Ask Before You Pet My Dog

Today, Archie and I were on our daily walk. We had just crossed over past the church and as we were making our way up the narrow path, a car pulled onto the kerb. When the passenger opened their door to step out, I halted, slipping my hand lower on Archie’s lead and holding him closer to my side because there wasn’t enough room for us to pass before the car door was closed again. The driver made her way around to the boot of the car as the man slowly got out of the vehicle. I didn’t mind waiting. I held back and smiled and told the lady it was okay when she apologised for stopping us.

As we spoke, a bus passed us, and did that loud, hissing thing buses do sometimes. Archie jumped backwards and was clearly afraid, and the lady said as much. “You poor thing! What’s wrong? Why are you afraid?”

“He’s blind,” I told her, reaching down to scratch his ears. “Loud noises spook him.”

“Oh, bless him!”

The man stood out of the way so that we could pass them, and I said goodbye and went on. We got to our house just as the rain started.

I was so relieved that the exchange went well. See, like I told the lady, my dog is blind – or mostly blind. He can see shadows and shapes but not well. When strangers approach him suddenly and try to pet him he gets a fright and begins to bark. When we’re out walking, he doesn’t really bark at all. Other dogs bark at him, and he definitely has a good nose at people we pass, but he doesn’t really make any noise – which is great because if he hears a noise in the house he will bark for ages.

Every time somebody stops me when I’m walking Archie, I’m holding my breath. It happens quite often, because my dog is (in more opinions than my own) the perfect mix of scruffy and handsome. He’s got “a lovely face”; a “handsome face”. And when we walk, he’s well-behaved. People stop us quite a lot. That’s fine.

But please don’t pet my dog without asking me.

Actually, please don’t pet any dog without asking the owner. And please teach your children to always ask first!

A couple of weeks ago on one of our daily walks, I could see a couple of kids up the road petting a dog. Their grandfather was talking to the owner, and then they said goodbye and went their separate ways. I took out one of my headphones as we headed towards one another in case they spoke to me. The children ran on ahead, and then hesitated a couple of feet in front of me.

“Can we please pet your dog?” asked the girl. She was older than the little boy. I smiled and bent down to pet Archie’s head myself, and he began to sniff the girl.

“Yes, but just don’t pet his face. He’s blind and he might get a fright.”

The children stroked his back and true to his lazy, dramatic self he dropped to the ground and rolled onto his back so they could pet his belly. The grandfather caught up to them and apologised to me.

“It’s fine!” I assured him. “He loves kids.”

He does. Archie adores children, and he’s always gentle and lovely around them.

“Dogs like to be stroked,” the girl told her grandfather.

“Yes, but you stroke them without asking and you can’t do that.”

“I asked!”

I assured the grandfather that they had indeed asked, but I was so happy to hear his criticism because even though it was unfounded, it meant he was teaching the children how to be safe around dogs.

Every time somebody stops me, I’m always afraid they’re going to try to stroke him without asking me and he’s going to get a fright and bark and they’re going to get a fright and think he’s a nasty dog. He doesn’t bite, but he does have quite a loud bark despite his size and it can be quite startling when people don’t expect it. Every time that they don’t pet him without asking, I’m incredibly relieved.

My dog is lovely. He loves attention and if you ask, I’ll probably say that you can stroke him. But please ask me before you do. Ask anyone before you stroke their dogs.

Do you have a dog? How do you feel when strangers approach you? Do you let strangers stroke them or would you rather they didn’t?

Until next time, stay cool.

-K

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Christmas Reading

The end of November is drawing near, and even all lf the Grinches are soon going to have to accept that the Christmas season has well and truly begun. With the American thanksgiving but days away, everywhere is about to be twinkling with fairy lights and unexplainable amounts of glitter, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Since my last post was about not being able to enjoy reading, I thought that for this post I would take some time to talk about a couple of books that I hope to find myself reading over the Christmas season. It’s going to be a short post, and I really do just mean a couple of books, but I’ll say a little bit about each of them.

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

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Despite thoroughly enjoying Terry Pratchett’s writing from the couple of works of his that I’d read, I’d never read any of the Discworld books until recently. Hogfather was a book that my partner loved and used to listen to the audiobook of every year at Christmas, so a couple of years ago I bought her a beautiful copy of it and at Christmas she read it aloud to me for the first time, and I fell in love immediately.

Reading Hogfather has now become something I look forward to all year and one of my favourite parts of the Christmas season. If you haven’t read it, then I encourage you to pick it up. You surely don’t need me to tell you what a wonderful writer Terry Pratchett was, but I will tell you that this immediately became one of my all-time favourite books. It’s funny, it’s exciting and thrilling and it’s honestly magical. It’s also not really, truly about Christmas – it’s set at Hogswatch – so if you don’t enjoy Christmas then you can still get into the Hogswatch spirit instead by reading this.

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

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I said during my Victober post that I had never really read any Dickens, and that I was going to save A Christmas Carol for Christmas. It’s still one of my favourite stories – I saw it a few times on stage growing up and I’ve seen countless adaptations of it (my favourite one is the Muppets adaptation because I love Kermit the Frog) and they’re a staple of my Christmas, but despite this I’ve never actually read the book. That’s really weird, because I love reading and don’t really know why I’ve never bothered to pick it up before now.

Since I’ll be reading Hogfather with my partner, A Christmas Carol is going to be my solo-read this season. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be reading it on my kindle or splashing out on a lovely copy, but I’m excited nonetheless. I already know that it’s a story I love, and I can’t wait to see if I love the book as much as everything else. I can only imagine that I will.

So those are my Christmas reading plans! Like I said, just a couple, but stories that I love. What are you reading this holiday season? Do you have any staples or are you trying something new?

Until next time, stay cool.

-K

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Book Burnout

I love reading. I know that it’s cliché to use the phrase, “for as long as I can remember”, and that it’s the sort of thing that your teachers advise against you including in a personal statement, but this isn’t a personal statement, and for as long as I can remember I have loved to read.

I love reading the Biff and Chip books they’d send us home with whilst in the infants; I loved reading Kipper the Dog; I loved listening to my mum read The Chronicles of Narnia to my sisters and I before bed. The first book series I fell head over heels in love with was A Series of Unfortunate Events and it’s still one of my all-time favourite series and the books which have had the most influence over my own writing style to this day. I read The Secret Garden every year from the ages of seven to fifteen. I read every book I could get my hands on – children’s books and middle-grade books and young adult and adult books. If it had words in it, I wanted to read it.

I loved reading so much that I ended up doing a mainly literature-focused English degree (although I did take some language modules because language is actually really interesting). For three years straight, I read book after book after book, and managed to even squeeze in a few books I read just because I wanted to.

Then, I graduated.

Since graduation, I haven’t been able to sit down and read like I used to. I’ve tried countless times to crack open a new book and get absorbed in it, but even when I am enjoying the story I can feel my brain shutting down. It gets tired so easily now, and for a while I was terrified that maybe I wouldn’t enjoy reading any more. That was a terrifying thought and it played on my mind and kept me awake when I’d rather be sleeping. However, a friend of mine that also studied English alongside me told me a couple of weeks ago that she was talking to a colleague of hers who studied English and told her that, yes, it took him a while to be able to enjoy reading for fun again.

When she said that, the wave of relief that washed over me was so strong that it could have sent me straight into a peaceful sleep right there and then.

I still haven’t been able to really kick myself back into reading like I used to, but there are so many books that I want to read, and so many books that I want to write. I’m trying to be patient and not to force myself (because I know that will only make the situation worse), but ‘reader’ has been such a defining part of my personality for as long as I can remember that I’m terrified to let go of that label, even for the tiniest moment.

My current theory is that my brain is still so exhausted from the last three years of nonstop reading, much of which I did not enjoy (which wasn’t bad for a degree – it meant I had a lot to say in my essays) that when I open a new book it’s too tired to wait and see if it gets good. I think my brain isn’t done relaxing yet, but I’m tired of not reading. My new plan? To read an old favourite. Something I know inside and out; something I know that I enjoy and don’t have to put too much effort into comprehending the story because I’ve already done the work. I’m thinking maybe Good Omens.

My bookshelf is still my favourite part of my room, even though it only holds a fraction of the books I actually own. I hope that if I can find that part of my brain that loves the effort of digging into new stories, we can begin to work our way through all of the untouched books currently glaring at me from their place at the foot of my bed.

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Have you had a similar experience with Book Burnout? Have you studied a degree and found yourself tired of something you once loved? Could you even imagine not wanting to read? Or do you not really enjoy it in the first place? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, stay cool.

-K

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Surviving The Pre-Christmas Christmas Season

If you’re like me, you’ve been excited for Christmas since September. You’ve bitten your tongue whenever you’ve had Christmassy thoughts and ideas; you’ve cut yourself off when you’ve caught yourself humming Slade or Wizzard; you’ve kept your purse pinched tightly closed whenever you saw a cute Christmas decoration in the shops because you know there’s no point in putting it away so it’d just end up left out and then everyone would have an opinion on it… but now it’s November, and we are so close to being able to unashamedly enjoy this wonderful, magical time of year.

My facebook and twitter right now are a mix of people jumping headfirst into the Christmas films and playlists and the people who are rolling their eyes and saying, “ugh, I’m still supposed to have a month before I have to listen to you all go on about Christmas”. Now, look – I get it. Not everybody likes Christmas, not everyone celebrates Christmas, and for some people, it’s an uncomfortable and unpleasant time of year. However, for me, it’s the best time. It’s the time when I’m happiest, and I feel most comfortable, and it makes every day a little easier for me to get through because the people around me are being kinder and are smiling more and it’s nice. Sure, it comes with its fair share of stress, but it’s one of the only times of year when I feel really, truly happy, and I want to celebrate that.

So if you need to mute or block or unfollow me on twitter, and if you want to unfriend me on facebook, that’s fine. I totally understand. But, I am trying my best to keep my Christmas chatter to a minimum for at least another week or so. And trust me, it isn’t easy. Here are a couple of things I’m finding are holding me over until I can go 110% Christmas…

HOW TO SURVIVE THE PRE-CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS SEASON: THE CHRISTMAS LOVER VERSION

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Get your shopping done early!

I’ve been Christmas shopping since October and I’ve been planning gifts since September. I’ve made a list of everyone that I’m buying gifts for and sorted them into two groups – Big and Small. This basically means – my family and partner get a bigger allowance than everyone else. I’ve already completely finished buying for two of my Big people, have half finished another two and there’s only one that I haven’t gotten anything for yet. I hope to have everyone on the list sorted (or mostly sorted) by December 1st.

My tips for shopping are: list your people. Think of multiple gift ideas for them – this might be easier if you make a little mindmap for each person and list the things you know they’re interested in and possible gifts relating to these interests. Decide your budget for each person! Make sure that the overall total is manageable for you and won’t break your bank (remember – you don’t have to spend a lot – or even any – money on someone to show them that you care, and your health and stability in terms of living should come before gift giving) and then pick out the gifts you want to give them from the ideas you came up with earlier.

And if that isn’t enough, wrap some of them. Or all of them.

I usually leave my wrapping until December, but I have a much smaller bedroom since moving home from university and that means I don’t really have space to hide gifts. Since my partner was coming over this weekend just gone, I decided the best way to hide them would just be to wrap them.

And listen – places like Home Bargains and B&M sell really nice wrapping paper. And I mean really nice and easy to use. Some fancy wrapping papers can be heavy and hard to fold and tape down because they keep wanting to pop open, especially if they’re foil papers and the tape won’t stick well. The wrapping paper I’ve used this year is from Home Bargains and it’s firm and sturdy without being heavy and frustrating. And it’s really pretty!

Look – having wrapped presents around is nice. And exciting. And it’s fun to tease people when they can see their presents are right there. Just make sure that you have enough willpower not to hand them over early.

Make lists of the Christmas activities you want to do throughout the Christmas season

This basically just gives you time to work out when you’ll be able to squeeze these activities in and gives you things to look forward to. Then you might actually manage to do all or most of them throughout the season instead of thinking of something you would have liked to do when it’s too late.

Start watching things slowly

Maybe start with the TV specials, and build up to your favourite Christmas films. Or watch the rubbish Made-For-TV Christmas films that are always on some channel right about now. There are probably a lot more Christmas films that you love than you can think of off the top of your head, so maybe start writing a list, too.

Hey, we’re making a lot of lists. Maybe you could buy a Christmas-themed notepad to keep them in.

Get organised!

Are you sending out Christmas cards? Double check you have everyone’s current addresses. Are you going away? What do you need to take? Who else will be there? Will you need to take an empty bag for the gifts you receive while you’re there? Do you have access to your favourite Christmas clothes or could your wardrobe use a good sorting through?

So, these are a bunch of things that are helping me not to talk about Christmas too much right now.

But, hey, if you want to talk about it? Go ahead. You want to watch all your favourite films? Do it. You want to blast Christmas music all day, every day? Rock on, then. Hell, if you want to put up all of your decorations? Go for it.

Do whatever you want to do to make yourself happy throughout this season. Take as much or as little time as you want and/or need.

Basically? Be happy.

So, are you like me, and are already vibrating with excitement for the Christmas season? Are you already going full-throttle? Are you trying to hold out to build excitement? Do you hate Christmas and wish everyone would shut up? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, stay merry!

-K

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November: 7 Little Things

Nine days into November, and I’ve yet to make a blog post with “November” in the title. Shock horror! So here it is. This isn’t going to be an especially lengthy post, but I wanted to spend a little time talking about seven little things that are getting me through November.

November to me is a lot of things: it’s NaNoWriMo month (I started NaNoWriMo, and then realised I hadn’t done nearly as much planning as I’d like to for my current WIP and it would be a waste of a month to force out 50k words and then scrap them, so I’m focusing on planning this month instead!), it’s the month before Christmas… it’s basically a month of anticipation and excitement and I love it. It’s not a month where anything special happens for me, but it’s at a good point in the year, and as I’m trying my best to focus on the positives right now, here are the seven little things I’m loving this month:

  1. My favourite show is back

I’ve mentioned RWBY many times on this blog, and will undoubtedly mention it many times in the future. It’s my absolute favourite series in the world, and November means we’re back into the swing of things with the newest volume! Which I am loving. Unsurprisingly.

  1. Winter mornings

You know those bright, clear mornings where there’s frost on the ground and you can see your breath and you’re absolutely freezing but it wakes you up? And you can bundle up in a big coat and a warm scarf and nice gloves? I love those mornings. I can tell it’s getting close to winter, and everything just seems clean and fresh.

  1. Christmas shopping

I try to get the bulk of my Christmas shopping done early. I start in October and aim to be finished with the majority of my gifts before December. I love finding gifts that I know people will love and I love knowing that I won’t have to worry about it when the shops are booming with panicked parents and last-minute gift-buyers.

  1. Christmas lights

Today, I’m going to watch them light the big Christmas tree in town. I adore Christmas lights – the entire town looks magical. November means the start of a season of magic and that isn’t just reserved for people who celebrate Christmas. Everyone can walk under the sparkling arches and admire the twinkling trees – there are fairies out tonight.

  1. The Good Jumpers™

You know what I mean. In preparation for the Christmas season, the shops are bringing out their stock of good jumpers. Plain ones, patterned ones, ones with Christmas characters on and ones that turn you into Christmas characters. Fluffy ones, thick ones, ones with holes in… every style of jumper is about to be flooding the shelves in almost every clothing store, and I can’t wait to get myself something new to snuggle up in with a nice festive drink. Speaking of…

  1. Festive drinks

I wait all year for the black forest hot chocolate to return to Costa. All. Year.

  1. Films

I don’t just mean that it’s soon going to be acceptable to watch nothing but Christmas films. The sequel to Rooster Teeth’s original film, Lazer Team, also comes out this month, and I can’t wait to see it and to spend the evening with the community that’s basically like a really large, extended family to me. I love films and I’m so excited for this cinema experience.

So, those are seven little things that I’m loving this month. Just a handful of things that are making me happy and helping to keep a smile on my face.

What sort of things are keeping you happy this month? Are you hating the pre-Christmas-Christmas season or loving it like I am?

Until next time, stay cool.

-K

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Shuffle The Music Tag

Okay, so I wasn’t tagged in this. That’s unsurprising – I’ve only been blogging regularly since September and I definitely don’t fit into a niche, so I haven’t really found a spot in the blogging community yet. However, when I was looking through my collection of post ideas and prompts today, nothing really seemed like it was the right time to post it. Then, whilst scrolling twitter, I came across this tag from Britt at Alternatively Speaking.

I listen to music every day and I’m always finding new artists and new genres to explore. However, I mostly listen to music on spotify now – playlists made by my partner and friends and a couple I’ve made myself. I thought it would be fun to do this tag using my iTunes because I haven’t used it for a  good couple of years now, and it would be interesting (and a little nostalgic) to see what I had to say about the songs that came up!

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THE RULES:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this tag and link to their blog.
  2. Shuffle your entire music library (no matter how old songs the songs are) and talk about the FIRST FIFTEEN songs that come up (anything like why they are there, if they signify something, any story, why you like them, etc.)
  3. Mention the songs as well as the artists.
  4. Tag 7 people or more to do this tag and please let them know!

‘The Bitch of Living’ – Spring Awakening Broadway Cast

This was the first song from this musical that I ever heard, and I knew nothing about the show itself but I really, really liked this song. A couple of years later I came across the rest of the music from the production, but this one is probably still my favourite. I love rock music and I love theatre music and this combines the two beautifully. Listening to it again now after a year or so since I last heard it has made me remember just how fond I am of it.

‘The Fighter’ – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder

This is absolutely one of my favourite Gym Class songs and it’s one I still listen to regularly. It’s a song that always makes me feel better – it motivates me and reminds me that I’ve already made it this far so there’s no reason to give up now. It’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to not always feel like you’re winning because that doesn’t mean we’ve lost yet. We can keep going and it might be tough but there’s no reason I can’t do it, and anyone that doubts me is in for a shock.

‘A Change of Heart’ – The 1975

The 1975 are one of my two all-time favourite bands (joint top place). I’ve seen them live three times already and I fully intend to see them every time they return to Liverpool/Manchester for the foreseeable future. I think this is one of the songs from ILIWYS that I don’t hear about as much, but it’s one of my favourites. There are so many throwback lyrics in the whole album but especially in this song – it really speaks to me about growing up and changing. Over the past couple of years I’ve changed a lot and so have the people around me, and it’s led to us having to let go of some friendships because things just weren’t clicking like they used to. It’s sad, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s okay to let go. Things don’t always go like we plan, but at least we have beautiful songs to share the changes with.

‘212’ – Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay

This is the kind of song that I can listen to in the day and enjoy, but if it came on while I was out with friends I know I’d have a totally different reaction. It makes me want to go to a club.

‘Push’ – Matchbox Twenty

I really love Matchbox Twenty. This is a really sad song, but I still love it. The music is just really familiar to me and even though the contents of the song are definitely unpleasant, the music itself just makes me feel really full. I think it’s the combination of them both. I can’t help but sing along.

‘She’s American’ – The 1975

Oh wow, another.

I love this song, but a lot of the time I see it interpreted in a way that doesn’t pay attention to half the lyrics. I feel like people only hear the ‘she’s American’ lyrics and not the rest of them. But, to be fair, just because I interpret it one way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct, and I wouldn’t try to tell anyone else how to interpret it. To me, though, it’s not a song about having a good time. I always heard it as being around someone who doesn’t really care what’s going on beneath the surface for you as long as they can enjoy these fleeting and shallow moments.

I really love this song, though. One of my favourite things about ILIWYS is how upbeat the music is and how that contrasts with the lyrics and content of the songs.

‘Raise Hell’ – Brandi Carlile

This song reminds me of my pirates. Over the years, as a writer, I’ve written a lot of characters who are pirates – some entirely fictional and some inspired by real historical characters. This is one of the songs that I’ll always associate with them.

‘Toy Soldiers’ – Marianas Trench

Ah, my other favourite band! These guys share the top spot with The 1975, and I’ve seen them live twice. This is one of the first songs by them that I heard. I don’t listen to it very often anymore because I kind of over-did it when I first heard it, but I still think it’s an absolute jam. It’s another one of those songs where the content is about an unhealthy relationship, but the music makes it almost impossible not to sing along for me. This isn’t one of my favourite MT songs, but it’s definitely one I’m fond of because it’s one of the first ones I heard and there’s a lot of nostalgia attached to it.

‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It’ – The 1975

Well done, Shuffle, you’ve brought me three songs from ILIWYS so far.

There isn’t a song by The 1975 that I can think of that I don’t like. I love the music in this, I love the soft singing; I love it all. The lyrics, few though they are, are so colloquial and I adore that. I really like the use of ‘the big light’ because that’s what I’ve always referred to it as, but I’ve never really heard it used in the media (TV, films or music).

‘What A Catch, Donnie’ – Fall Out Boy

This song is so important to me and to a lot of people around me. It’s a song that deals with depression and suicide and struggling, and to me, it’s a reminder that just because we’re struggling doesn’t mean we’re not doing great things, and most importantly, that we’re not alone.

‘You Could Be Happy’ – Snow Patrol

This song makes me really sad, and I’ve heard it in a lot of different places at a lot of different times, but the one that stuck with me? Gavin & Stacey. Every time it comes on I remember that episode. I don’t even especially care about their relationship (come on, it’s a story about Smithy and Nessa told through the relationship of Gavin & Stacey), but this song makes me want to cry… but I still never skip it.

‘Your Song’ – Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge soundtrack)

I really love this film, and this song makes me think of my partner. It kind of reminds me of a bad time in my life, when I’d just started college and everything seemed to be going wrong, but looking back on it I can only be happy that everything worked out.

‘Odds Are’ – Barenaked Ladies

I’m an absolutely massive Barenaked Ladies fan, and this is one of my favourite songs. It’s so uplifting! Yeah, there are a lot of bad things that could happen, but the odds are that everything is going to work itself out. A funny thing for me about this song is that I heard it, and then later realised that the music video for it (which I didn’t see for a long time after hearing the song) was made by Rooster Teeth. If you know me, you know how important Rooster Teeth is to me. What are the odds? Eh? Eh???

‘The Parting Glass’ – Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag OST

AC is my favourite game series, but Blag Flag is not one of my favourite games. That said, the side characters? My absolute favourite. Hearing Anne sing this at the end of the game absolutely breaks my heart. It’s a lovely tune, but I’m an emotional baby who gets too attached to fictional characters and listening to this song makes me feel like I’ve lost my friends, too.

‘What Are You Drinking About?’ – Florida Georgia Line

Catch me passionately singing this song whenever it comes on. Literally every time. I cannot relate to this song even a little bit but you wouldn’t believe that by the way I sing along.

Now, I don’t think I actually know any bloggers well enough to tag at this point, so since I’m already cheating in that I wasn’t tagged I’m going to cheat again and over this up to anyone who is interested in the tag.

Let me know in the comments if you like any of these songs or artists! And leave me a comment if you do the tag as well and I’ll be sure to check out your own post on it!

Until next time, stay musical.

-K

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Dear Diary…

[A selection of fictional diary entries surrounding the switch between Halloween-Season and Pre-Christmas-Christmas-Season]

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30/10/17

Dear Diary,

Final touches of Halloween costume: assembled. Sweets: purchased. Skeletons: spooky.

Garden entirely cleared of any items that could be used against us this Mischief Night.

Note: Book in dentist appointment for post-Halloween check up. Expected number of trick-or-treaters dwarfs in comparison to amount of sweets bought.

Note: 56 days until Christmas!

Note: Google ‘how to get fake cobwebs out of jumper’.

31/10/17

Dear Diary,

Already eaten a quarter of the sweets bought for trick-or-treaters tonight. MUST BOOK DENTIST APPOINTMENT.

No trouble from anyone out last night, which is a damn relief considering in the past few years I’ve noticed that people seem to have forgotten the definition of ‘mischief’ and the night has escalated from harmless pranks to full blown crime.

Note: Mischief Night is sort of like the Purge except you still get arrested – people are just terrible.

Finally finished putting up the last of the Halloween decorations, at least. Selection of scary films are ready and waiting. I can’t wait to be terrified by trick-or-treaters knocking during the anticipation of a jump scare.

Note: 55 days until Christmas!

Note: Ate two more fun-size bags of Haribo whilst writing this diary entry. BOOK. DENTIST.

1/11/17

Dear Diary,

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Still have two unopened bags of Maoams because I only received about 15 trick-or-treaters. Refuse to waste money so will have to eat the rest of the sweets myself.

Note: Sort it into bags of pick ‘n’ mix and force them upon friends so we can all rot our teeth together and I will feel like less of a failure of an adult.

Received three more parcels of Christmas presents today and am now £60 down but 40% finished, which I find very impressive (thank you, Wowcher). Have broken out the Christmas playlist but cannot yet find the energy to take down the Halloween decorations.

Note: Don’t have much storage space, but cannot continue to throw out £15 worth of Poundland decorations every year if I’m attempting to be thrifty so must find space.

Note: Remove all batteries before storage. Have pooped my pants three times already by accidentally triggering motion-sensor skeleton.

Note: Correction – one unopened bag of Maoams.

2/11/17

Dear Diary,

Have heard seven (7) people complaining that shops are already putting up Christmas decorations because ‘it hasn’t even been bonfire night yet’. Very true – cannot believe shops aren’t setting off fireworks every hour! It’s a disgrace.

Dog is very distressed by the noise of the fireworks being set off, though. Amazingly, his reindeer toy has retained its antlers despite this.

Have made little more progress in gift-buying as L won’t decide if they have a gift in mind or would like to be surprised. Have made notes of potential gifts but this work could be scrapped at any moment.

Note: Begin compiling Christmas card list and double-checking addresses.

Note: Do NOT be a Pam this year. Wait until December to post the cards.

Despite the abundance of Halloween sweets still available in my home, have already purchased mince pies (two (2) have been eaten). Have yet to book dentist appointment.

Blip.

Yesterday, I had what I can only think to refer to as a ‘blip’. I was eating food with my friends and I was having a lovely time (albeit I was feeling a little worse for wear after coming down with a bit of a cold), and then, rather abruptly, my head started to feel a little swimmy and everything seemed a bit heavy and just generally off. This happens sometimes. When asked why I was being so quiet, I responded, with a shrug, “I just feel a bit quiet.”

A few years ago, I had a really rough, difficult time, and I went to the doctor and I made some huge life changes and things got a little bit easier. Thankfully, since then, things haven’t been quite that bad, but sometimes things get a little bit off again. Sometimes they last for days or weeks and sometimes it’s just a few hours. I always feel a little bit guilty and I tend to keep it mostly to myself – I don’t want to worry anyone and I feel like it’s my responsibility to take care of myself. I must be doing a good job of it, because people have commented on how I have it “so together” and I never seem to have any problems, and all I can do is laugh and smile awkwardly and say, “Yeah, I mean, not really, but thank you.”

But the thing is – it doesn’t have to all be down to me. I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about this, and I remind other people of this constantly, but when it comes to me I have a hard time accepting help without feeling like an inconvenience. This is silly. I am not an inconvenience, and the people around me don’t see me as such. Anyone who does has been cut off; lopped off like the dead ends of bleached hair.

I do feel bad admitting I’ve been sad when I’ve been doing nice things with good people. I feel as if I’m letting everybody down – but it can’t be helped. Sometimes we get sad. It’s okay.

If you feel like you need to see a doctor, then you should see one. Being taken seriously by your doctor can definitely help you feel like your feelings are valid, and they are. When you start believing that your sadness is valid and important and real, it becomes easier to deal with. You’re no longer dealing with something that you’re denying is true.

If you aren’t comfortable enough to see a doctor, then talk to someone you trust. Just having someone assure you that what you’re feeling is important can give you the courage to take steps to change it.

My blip didn’t last long this time. Sure, I’m feeling sorry for myself today because I haven’t had a cold this bad for a while and I’m feeling rather pathetic, but it’s no blip. We’re coming up to my favourite time of the year, and I have a handful of exciting things planned, and even though there’s no guarantee I won’t  have those weird feelings (in fact, it’s rather the opposite), I’m confident enough in my support system that I’ll be able to cope.

I don’t have a point in writing this post this time. I just had a funny mental turn yesterday and it was playing on my mind, so I sort of just felt the urge to blurt this all out. I’m better than I was a few years ago, but I’m not better. Sometimes things don’t feel good. I’m not letting anyone down in admitting that.

It’s okay to not get better all at once. There are going to be blips and some blips will be worse than others. Sometimes, I might need to go back a few steps, and that is okay. I’m just going to take it all as it comes, and we’ll see how it goes.

-K

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Talk About Yourself

Given that twice a week I publish a blog post based upon my own life and experiences, you can probably assume that I’m a person who feels comfortable in talking about themselves. While I (obviously) do that quite often, I am far from comfortable with it. In fact, whenever I do find myself turning a conversation to a story about myself, a little voice in the back of my head pipes up:

Nobody actually cares, you know? They’re probably annoyed that you’ve made this about yourself. You’re being really selfish right now, aren’t you? You should have just said nothing, or told them their story was interesting. You should ask people more questions about themselves. Nobody wants to hear this. Wrap it up.

I hear this voice every single time I talk about myself. Somebody tells a funny story about their dog and I have a similar one about my own, so I start telling it, and immediately I regret it. I feel guilty for talking about myself. I’ve taken the shine off someone else. I’ve made it all about me. Every time I talk about myself, I feel bad about it.

But why?

Whenever other people apologise to me for “making the conversation about [themselves]”, I am quick to reassure them that there is no need to apologise. This is the way that conversations work, after all. When people talk they swap stories – we link them together as one long chain of tales, with big connections and small ones and ones that barely make any sense. There’s no need to apologise for telling me a story when I’ve finished telling mine. Sure, if I was interrupted midway through I’d be a little annoyed, but if I’ve finished? Take the floor; it’s all yours.

Sometimes, people apologise for telling me about themselves. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer and I’m always looking for little bits of inspiration and little things I can steal and adapt and twist into my stories and characters, but I love hearing people talk about themselves. I want to hear about the time you broke your leg or got lost in the supermarket. Please, tell me about the time your dog pulled you over and dragged you down the street, or how your brother once successfully backflipped onto his skateboard without falling down. I want to hear how you’ve had similar experiences to me, or how you haven’t. I don’t mind telling people that there’s no need to apologise, but it saddens me that they feel the need to do that in the first place.

I’m well aware that there are plenty of articles and studies and so on out there about the linguistic differences in the way women and men speak. How women will begin an email, “Sorry to bother you” while men are more unlikely (not that it won’t ever happen) to do so. If you type “Why women apologise” into a search engine there is no shortage of think-piece articles and research studies that will pop up, and they’re all written much more eloquently than the job I’m managing here. They discuss why we do it – that it’s linked to our idea of politeness, or that women see more acts as deserving of an apology than men do. I’m not writing this post to discuss why, though. I’m writing this post to remind you it’s okay to talk about yourself.

It’s okay to talk about yourself.

It’s okay to tell stories about yourself, and it’s okay to want people to hear about your day. It’s okay to make conversations about yourself, and it’s okay to want attention. It’s okay to want someone to validate your frustration if you’ve had a hard day at work. It’s okay to share a funny story – it’s even okay to share a funny story even if you’re the only person who thinks it’s funny.

You don’t have to apologise for existing and you don’t have to apologise for wanting to share your existence.

And if the people you’re talking to don’t want to hear it, then talk to me. You can tell me about your day. You can tell me what’s annoyed you and what’s made you happy. You should find people who want to hear about you because I promise you – you are worth hearing. You deserve to be heard.

You don’t need to apologise for talking about yourself.

Talk about yourself – more often, more loudly and with pride. You have stories worth sharing.

So, now, in the comments, feel free to say something. Anything. Tell me about your day; tell me about your trip to the dentist; tell me about something you’ve just remembered. Tell me about anything you’ve wanted to share this week but have stopped yourself because you didn’t think anyone would want to hear it. In the comments, talk about yourself without apologising.

Until next time, stay cool.

-K

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RTX Round-Up!

The weekend of October 13th and 14th marked the first official RTX London, and I was lucky enough to get to attend. If you don’t know what RTX is, it’s a gaming and internet culture convention hosted by Rooster Teeth – an online company that produces not only gaming videos (Let’s Plays, etc.) but web series’ (Red Vs Blue, RWBY, Day 5, etc.), podcasts, movies, games and much more. I’ve been following the company for years now and it’s been my dream to attend RTX, so when they finally announced they’d be hosting one in the UK there was absolutely no way I was going to miss out.

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All in all, I had an amazing weekend. There were some minor issues with queuing at the start, but the guardians did their best to keep everything organised and running smoothly and the twitter account RTX Queues did a good job at keeping us updated on the state of queues over the weekend. In the end, I made it to two panels and a RWBY Cosplay meet on the Saturday, and on the Sunday I had an autograph signing/photo op with Gray Haddock and Kerry Shawcross and snagged some cool merch from the shop!

The first panel I attended was for Lazer Team 2, and it was brilliant. It was definitely worth waking up at 6am so I had enough time to get into cosplay and eat breakfast before we headed over. I won’t spoil anything about the film, but the sneak peeks we got a look at have gotten me really excited for its release next month, and I’m very glad it’s getting a theatrical release because I love being with this community and I can’t wait to see my boys back up on the big screen. I can already tell that Nichole Bloom fits in with this cast brilliantly and her character, Maggie, looks like she’s going to be an amazing addition and I can confirm that I already absolutely adore her. I’m especially glad that the sequel isn’t just a rehash of the original film – it’s not just “Oh, and here’s Lazer Team back to save the planet again!

You can watch the teaser trailer for Lazer Team 2 HERE.

The other panel I attended on the Saturday was for RWBY, which, if you know me, you know is my absolute favourite series in the entire world. RWBY has been a really huge part of my life for a few years now and it means so much to me. I won’t go into too much mushy detail, but it’s kind of a big deal to me. I was so excited to get a chance to attend the panel! I cried from pretty much start to finish after we were shown the YANG CHARACTER SHORT for pre-volume 5 and then the entire first episode of the fifth volume! It’s looking to be an amazing season and I cannot applaud the animation team enough for the sheer amount of improvement they’ve made over the past couple of volumes. Seriously, volume 5 looks amazing. We also got to take a look at a sneak peek for the upcoming series Gen:Lock, which looks like it’s going to be something totally new and interesting.

If you haven’t seen RWBY yet, I urge you to give it a watch. A lot of people even watch it with young children, but I will stress that come volume 3 you’re going to want to give it a watch beforehand… it gets pretty… serious.

You can watch RWBY in its entirety HERE or on the ROOSTER TEETH WEBSITE. It’s basically about kids training to become huntsmen and fighting both monsters and humans as they do so. Volume 5 has already begun, and is released on Saturdays at 4PM GMT for Rooster Teeth FIRST members, Tuesdays at 2PM GMT for all Rooster Teeth site members, and the following Saturday on Youtube!

Before the RWBY panel we wound up, totally accidentally, at the RWBY cosplay meet. I met so many wonderful cosplayers who all looked amazing and I made a bunch of new friends. It was wonderful to have so many people compliment my cosplay (RWBY Volume 4 Blake Belladonna) because I was a little worried about it not being entirely accurate as I’d made it all myself, but everyone was so nice. I’m definitely excited to re-wear it now, and I remembered how much I enjoy cosplaying this character even after all these years. I feel really confident in this costume and I’m very proud of how far I’ve come. I love meeting fellow RWBY cosplayers and I hope I get another chance to do it before Amecon next summer!

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A TINY fraction of the RWBY cosplayers we met. Photo by Enthusiastic Walks Cosplay

As I mentioned before, on the Sunday I had the amazing chance to meet Gray and Kerry. They told me my cosplay was amazing, thanked me for cosplaying, laughed when I told them nobody believes my name is Kitty when I’m dressed as Blake and were super lovely. It was a really, really lovely meeting and I’ll treasure the items I had signed forever. I was really nervous, and I’m really bad at making eye contact with people when I’m nervous, but they were so sweet that they really did make me feel more comfortable.

Not only did I get to meet Gray and Kerry, but I was lucky enough to manage to meet Miles Luna, too. Miles is my absolute favourite person in the world and I didn’t think we were going to make it as he was short on time but we did, and he hugged me, told me I looked absolutely incredible, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried afterwards. I was really overwhelmed, you guys. I just adore him.

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I missed the second RWBY meet as I was in the queue for my autograph signing but I still managed to meet up with a bunch of lovely cosplayers and some of my friends from a RWBY cosplay group we have here in Liverpool, which was great because I never get to see them because I’m really terrible at finding the time to attend their meets. Regardless, they are always super welcoming, kind, lovely and funny whenever I do manage to see them, so I’m really glad we found each other at RTX!

The only merch I bought was a couple of Blind Box RWBY figures and the large Vinyl Figure Yang, and I’m super happy with all of my purchases. I don’t really have room for more figures right now, but I definitely want to collect the other larger vinyl figures so I can finally have a complete Team RWBY set!

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Overall, it was an amazing weekend. I really love being part of this community and attending RTX definitely reminded me of that. I can’t wait for next year and I’m already missing everyone so badly. I have never suffered post-con blues as badly as I am right now. I really hope some of you who aren’t Rooster Teeth fans will be willing to give something a shot (watch RWBY) and maybe I’ll see you there next year!

Have you attended any comic, cosplay, gaming, etc. conventions? Would you like to?

Until next time, stay cool!

-K

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