Thursday, 31 July 2014

Greece Lightning: The Curse of Zeus

Greece Lightning
The Curse of Zeus

I am sitting in front of my computer, drinking a delicious banana smoothie and blogging away when I notice a man outside the apartment sweeping his balcony in nothing but a tiny black speedo. With absolutely no shame whatsoever. An absolute legend. I must be in Greece!


By now most of you are probably wondering where the hell I've been for the last few months. I kind of dropped off the radar for a bit and postponed my blogging.... Yeah, sorry about that! But the good news is that I now have a lot of things to share with you! So you should be looking forward to a few new blog posts within the next couple of weeks focusing on  the beautiful country of Italy and a little bit of insight into the AuPair experience. Hopefully this will make up for my absence, but then again "Absence makes the heart grow fonder".

Yes, I totally used a cringe-worthingly cliched quote right there. Deal with it.

So on to Greece now shall we? 

If you haven't already gathered this from the title or first sentence of this post, I'm in Greece right now; specifically Athens. Coming to Greece was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing but in all the crappy things that have happened since arriving, I'm still grateful that I came. Okay scratch that...frankly, things have sucked but there is always a silver lining!

Before I delve into my particular case of bad luck in this country, I should give a little bit of background into my bad karma and the apparent curse of the gods. As most of you know, Greek mythology has always played an important role in Greek life. These being from the myths and legends of the many Gods and Goddesses of Olympus who rule over the lands and possess the power to control the weather, the waters, the earth; and also our fate, our fortune, our life and our subsequent deaths. Now being a huge comic book nerd, periodical freak of nature, and huge appreciator of Homer's The Odyssey, I have always had a deep fascination with greek mythology. Partly because the history and the brilliance of each god and divinity is well thought out, but mostly because it is just so freaking cool! Yes the thought of having these giant, immortal and all-powerful gods ruling over us and controlling our lives is quite terrifying, but you have to admit that there is a sort of allure to the whole thing. And it isn't really scary as long as you don't get on one of their bad sides.

Now I have been known to have a certain misfortune when it comes to luck, love and the elements, and while I don't believe I personally offended the almighty gods in past occurrences, they all seem to have it out for me. Particularly Zeus. This seems to be the only explanation to the fact that I bring the bad weather wherever I go. 

I know. I know. You're probably thinking that I am being overdramatic and paranoid, and that it's just coincidence that bad weather is attracted to me, but let me give you a couple of examples:

I'll start with Los Angeles, California as it is the place where I first noticed that I brought the bad weather. Now if you know anything about California, you've probably heard that it doesn't rain very often...if ever. Seriously though, forest fires and earthquakes are more common than rain is. When it does rain people genuinely believe that the apocalypse is coming. I kid you not. Even if it is just a few rain droplets! Well you can imagine everyone's surprise when I come to visit the state for a week and it rains 3 days during the time I'm there. Very strange indeed.

Okay now lets talk about this summer in particular. Throughout my time in Italy all I kept hearing was people exclaiming that the weather is very strange this summer. Usually it is 30 degrees out, clear skies and nothing but sunshine...this summer however was a lot of rain and chilly mornings and I think we only had less than a week of hot weather. When I explained my bad luck with weather to my AuPair hosts they just laughed and said it's just coincidence. That was until they checked the forecast for the day after I left: clear skies and nothing but sunshine for the rest of the summer. Coincidence I think not. 

Then I come to Greece and am informed of a major storm coming my way ironically just as I am landing into the country. Then rain, rain, rain. As soon as I told of my affinity to bad weather to my couch surfing hosts they laughed and said, "That's why! Okay which way to the airport?" 

To be honest I actually quite like the rain. Maybe this is why I like England so much...I'm a bit of an enigma when I come there as it's always raining regardless if I'm there or not.

So that is my curse from Zeus, and we all know my curse from Aphrodite in the love department, so now let's look at a product of their union: Tyche, the goddess of fortune and luck (okay we don't know if Zeus was actually the father, it could have been Hermes for all we know as the gods liked to get around, but either way I'm clearly cursed in the matters of fortune.) I really don't want to get into this a whole lot as it will turn into a long rant and I'm not fond of airing my dirty laundry to the public, I will just summarize my misfortune by saying this: I was scammed. I was promised a job that never materialized and instead was left stranded in Athens with little to no money and a massive cloud of stress over my head. Oh yeah, and it was also raining...

Fortunately I was able to catch my bearings and adapt to all this, and for that I have so many people to thank for supporting me during this tough time.

This past month has been a roller-coaster of epic proportions...and not one of the good ones. More like the ones you have to wait in line for ages for but are able to claim the golden front seat, so it was worth the wait. However when you finally get on the ride you find out midway that you have a faulty seatbelt, so you spend the entire ride with your eyes closed, hyperventilating like a lunatic and clinging on for your dear life. You breathe a sign of relief when you survive the twists and turns, and praise the heavens above for not plummeting to your death, but as you come to the end of the ride your seat mate conveniently turns to your side and unloads their lunch onto your lap.

Yep...that pretty much explains it.

But enough of the bad things... let's look at all the good things that have happened since I arrived:

  • I met some awesome people while couchsurfing who have become close friends to me and who were able to help me out when I was at my lowest.
  • I had my first drum lesson with my first host in Athens and in turn was able to fulfill an old childhood dream.
  • I learned to seriously budget my money so that I only spent 1 or 2 euros on each meal. This is an invaluable asset to have when backpacking and it has taught me to be resourceful. Instead of going out to eat I would cook at home and if I had to eat while in the city I would buy fruits and vegetables at the market, haggle with the merchants at the bakery to get cheap bread, and then buy inexpensive tzatziki or hummus at the grocery store. Also, I mostly drank water while travelling and since Athens has clean tap water (which actually tastes good!) I was able to refill my bottle up wherever I went!
  • I got to see some of the amazing historical sights that Athens has to offer and delve into my passion for greek mythology.
  • I got to fangirl when I went to the Ancient Theatre of Dionysus and saw everything that I had studied in my major, come to life in front of me.
  • I got to explore Athens on the back of a motorcycle
  • I got to swim in the sea for hours and relish the perfect temperature of the water.
  • I got to eat LOTS and LOTS of souvlaki which were all super cheap, super delicious and still happened to taste completely different from one another.
  • I became an expert of the Athenian metro system.
  • I learned to haggle my way into getting cheap jewellery at the markets.

And most importantly...

  • I have learned that people will continue to surprise me. Yes, sometimes for the bad..but mostly for the good.
So yeah, things kind of went sour when I got to Greece but I've met some awesome people who were so incredibly supportive and while life has continued to kick me in the proverbial balls, I have had no other choice but to suck it up and learn from it. I guess this is just to let everyone know (who has ever told me that they are 'jealous' of my travels /or/ wishes that they were in my place /or/ is just curious to find out what I'm up to right now) that things aren't perfect. I'm human and bad things happen to me. This isn't saying that I regret my travels (hell no!) and am warning people off travelling (obviously not!), it just means that you should always be prepared for the unexpected. I wasn't, but I am now. We live and we learn.

Now my big problem is getting back to Canada with the little to no funds that I have left (as the job I was supposed to have was supposed to fund for my flight home). I have created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for my journey home and have even been working odd jobs when I can ...unfortunately not everyone wants a Girl Friday. I hate asking people for things but sometimes we are left with no other option.

Here is the link to my GoFundMe page if you want to help me out:

Thank you for everyone who has supported me on this adventure and who have followed me through the ups and downs of life. I'm sorry if this wasn't the happiest read but I can assure you that I have plenty of funny stories to entertain you with in my next few posts. Also I want to stress that by posting my GoFundMe page I am not asking people for charity. Do not in any way feel obligated to help out! Also, do not feel the need to feel sorry for me! Sometimes shit happens. If you do want to help my cause, great! I am eternally grateful :) If you can't, don't worry about it! I completely understand and I will love you all no less :) xx

And on the bright side, the clouds have lifted (metaphorically and literally) and the rain has stopped! Maybe this is a sign of good things to come?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

20 Reasons Why...Sleeping in an Airport Sucks

20 Reasons Why...
Sleeping in an Airport Sucks

  1. It's noisy
  2. There are crying children
  3. They are also sitting right next to you
  4. The ground is hard
  5. Your butt is now numb due to said hard floor
  6. You can't actually sleep for fear of having your stuff stolen...even if you don't have anything worth losing (except your dignity but you are sleeping in an airport for Christsake so you've already lost that)
  7. You are in a bloody airport so it's not exactly 5 star accommodation
  8. Food and drinks are really expensive...and while you REALLY want a beer right now, you can't afford the 10 quid for this liquid goodness so instead you resort to inhaling the air around you (Spoiler Alert: it isn't as good)
  9. The lights are fluorescent and completely blinding/irritating to the eyes
  10. You are also sitting underneath a giant neon billboard
  11. And you can't move as your butt is numb
  12. And there is this metal pole jabbing into the small of your back making any and every position you move into, incredibly uncomfortable.
  13. There are never any outlets so you can't charge your electronics and watch a movie to kill time
  14. Instead you drain every tiny bit of your battery on useless apps until they refuse to turn on and you need to resort to other mediums of entertainment
  15. This leaves people watching and writing/reading
  16. You don't have a book so reading is out
  17. People around you are all either sleeping, reading or crying babies, and not exactly stimulating entertainment
  18. Also they all have sleeping bags and seem much more prepared for this than you are
  19. You resort to writing but it turns out that you have nothing better to do than write this list and think about how depressing your life is at the present moment
And Finally...

   20.  It's a Freaking Airport, what did you expect Woman?!

...dear god I need sleep.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Challenge #1: The Happiness Project

Challenge #1:
The Happiness Project

I mentioned ages ago that I was going to incorporate a new series of challenges into my blog but that idea got pushed aside for awhile and then I forgot altogether (Unlike my Youtube Odyssey which I completely abandoned for reasons being...well I am a complete tool, that's why). But now that I have some time freed up, I decided to start it up again (the Challenges, not the Youtube videos...that's a lost cause, for now). I am not sure how many challenges I will end up doing but for now I am just going to make them up as I enjoy! 

I am not sure if any of you guys noticed the new page on my blog entitled 100 Happy Days but if you haven't had the chance to check it out I will give you a brief introduction to better acquaint yourselves with the purpose of this challenge. 

There is a website called 100 Happy Days which challenges people to be Happy for 100 consecutive days.

The Challenge is plain and simple. Find something every day that made you happy! And if you don't have time to post a picture everyday at least jot it down. Make time to be happy. It is probably one of the easiest and most rewarding thing you can do.

So I decided to start this challenge on my 21st birthday to celebrate another year older, and in turn, another year happier. If I can do this challenge, so can you!

To find out more about the Challenge check out their Website and I also go into better detail on this page in my blog.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Crimson and Clovers: A St. Patrick's Day Adventure in Dublin (Part 1/2)

Crimson and Clovers:
A St. Patrick's Day Adventure 
in Dublin, Ireland

A Two Part Read...

As I step foot out of the massive flying contraption that landed me onto this beautiful island, I take a deep breath and soak in the fresh Irish air. Butterflies flutter inside my stomach when I think of how much excitement this week has in store for me. All those years of dreaming and now I am finally here in the glorious land of luck and leprechauns! Nobody pinch me.

I carefully walk down the steps of the aircraft and shuffle behind the other passengers as we make our way to customs. Even though I try to keep a calm and cool composure, I can't help but feel my lips curling up into a smile and the rush of euphoria at a new adventure! After months of sitting static in Scotland, I am finally breaking through those chains and embracing freedom *sigh* it is such a relief to be somewhere new.

I practically float through customs, showing the Irish officers my passport. "Welcome to Ireland!", the man says to me with a sparkle in his eye. "Have a Lovely St. Patty's Day Weekend." My conservative, one-sided smile (one that I use to appear professional and friendly in certain circumstances like airport security) falters for a second as I am slightly taken back by the gracious attitude. After a moments hesitation, I quickly right myself up and flash him my pearly whites. Of course! I think to myself abashedly. How could I even question the famous Irish hospitality? I think I am going to like it here!

I hop on the Airlink bus heading towards the city centre and take a seat at the very back near the window. Placing my knapsack tightly between my feet I delve into my coat pockets to retrieve my earbuds and place them into my ears. Scrolling through my playlists I search for the perfect song to start off my journey. Mentally kicking myself for not having of made a playlist already for this trip (a total amateur mistake), I have to resort to my library of songs. Thank goodness I have such an eclectic taste as there is always a song to fit my mood.

After debating between the relaxing and chill tunes of Rudimental's Home Album (always a perfect choice for any trip) and the brilliant works of the Who (of which I am most partial to), I come to a standstill. While both were perfectly sound choices, I opted instead for a little Chuck Berry because while I'm not in Louisiana, I'm still feeling pretty Johnny B Good right now. As the first couple of cords ring through my ear, I sit back, pop my shades on and enjoy the journey. Hello Dublin! Jocelyn has arrived. 

It's not too long before Chuck's smooth vocals are interrupted by a commotion and I open my eyes to an elderly couple sitting directly across from me. They are arguing about the lack of comfort offered from the seats of the bus. The lady adamantly tries to cause a scene while the man is cowering his red-faced embarrassment in his hands.

My internal cynic starts working in overdrive: Are you seriously upset about the bus seats? Where do you think you are lady?! You are on a bloody bus for christsake not a 5 star chauffeured limo. Pull your 5 cent bump-it quiff out of your arse and smell the daisies! My Goodness, some people...

I roll my eyes behind my shades and start to turn up the volume on my iPod when all of a sudden I catch a slight movement out of the corner of my eye. The Lady thought it would be perfectly okay to put her 50lb duffle bag (something made out of fabric found in goodwill curtains) on the seat next to me instead of on the luggage rack. And if this didn't tick me off enough she then declares, quite loudly if I must say, "Some people are so rude and cannot respect the elderly. How am I supposed to move my arthritis-ridden feet when I have this bag in the way?" She says it with a jab and I feel her eyes directed at me. I look down at my feet and see a good 3ft distance between my bag and her feet. My eyebrows furrow and I go back to listening to my music intent on ignoring her pettiness. No way is some lady going to ruin my trip! Hell no. 

Drawing my attention back to my music I note that Chuck's voice has faded into Ian Browns and I fall right back into the lyrics.
Your knuckles whiten on the wheel
The last thing that your hands will feel
Your final flight can't be delay-

"Excuse me?" I am interrupted once again and start a bit in my seat out of surprise when a slight southern drawl catches my ear. Ah, American. Now, I am not one to stereotype but woman you are not helping the case. Okay I know it's incredibly childish but my imagination decides to work on overdrive. Next thing I know it I'm picturing a giant bucket of KFC chicken in her hands and a thick handlebar moustache on her face. With this absurd image burned into my brain I can't help stifle the snicker that escapes my lips. I feel her eyes narrow at me and shoot daggers into my lens. A crippling feeling starts to build within me and the urge to fight rises to my throat, but I chide my petty thoughts aside and decide instead to concede. There really isn't any point is there? I lift up my knapsack and rest it onto my lap while the lady breathes a satisfied *huff*. Oh boy, what a great start to the week!

In amidst this juvenile feud I now notice that I have missed my stop. Absolutely fantastic! I pull out my phone and text Corin (my couchsurfing host) this information and she informs me that I can easily get off at the train station and take the tram back to Connelly. As the bus pulls up to Heuston Station, the last stop, I quietly pick up my bags and without a second glance at the immature lady and her poor husband, I make my way off the bus. I say a polite Cheers! to the bus driver and he gives me a knowing wink and nods his head in the direction of the back of the bus. I laugh and smile at him in return. Well, at least some people can understand my pain.

The tram station is located directly across from the rail station so I don't have to walk very far which is good because I am now in no mood to navigate myself, and god knows what I will do if I happen to run into the couple again. I purchase my ticket and sit down on the bench next to the timetables. It's only a 5 minute wait for the next tram so I pull out my iPod and turn the music to Sweet Child of Mine. Guns n' Roses always pumps me up when I am feeling out of sorts so I knew I could definitely count on it to pull me out of my bad mood.

When I reach Connelly station twenty minutes later, I look around for Corin. I must look like a complete nutter because I have no idea where to go. Thankfully I see a girl walking up to me with bright red hair that frames her face like a lion's mane and I am sure it is her. Not wanting to be wrong though, I wait until she waves in my direction and breathe a sigh of relief.

We take the Dart (Irish interrail) to her house in Blackrock but before we stop by her place we head over to a restaurant for a bite to eat because I was starving. I had eaten earlier in the morning before I left for the airport since the student union was open for breakfast and I just couldn't resist. I mean really? They make these awesome breakfast rolls with eggs and bacon that literally melt in your mouth. Pair that with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (or in my case, concentrate...) and I am set! Unfortunately I have a stomach of a growing prepubescent boy so it usually doesn't last me long until I am famished once again. Since I left the airport and went straight on the bus ride from hell to meet Corin, I hadn't had time to eat any lunch so you can bet I was starving come dinner time.

She took me to a place called Johnny Rockets (of which I recently found out is actually a popular
American restaurant franchise but since I have never been there I disregard that knowledge). It was an adorable diner-style restaurant that had a 60's soda pop vibe to it. I absolutely adored it. We ordered these amazing Oreo Milkshakes and they tasted like heaven in a cup. I think I have reached Nirvana. They were that good!

After we finished up our meal we headed over to her place and well...this is where things got a little complicated.

As we walked up the steps to her place my heart raced in anticipation. She had told me that she lives with a couple of guy roommates so obviously the first thought that runs through my brain is: I hope they are hot. I mean c'mon! I am only human! She said that one of the guys...lets call him Bob for anonymity (but in all honesty, I actually don't remember his name), had recently gotten surgery and was a bit apprehensive about me staying at their place for a couple of days as he wanted to be able to walk around in pj's (like I would really care) and there was also the matter of me being a relative stranger (of which I can totally understand to some extent). So I was ready to dazzle them with my Canadian kindness and sweep them off their feet, but nothing prepared me for what happened next.

As Corin opened the door we are greeted to a guy wearing a neck brace and looking ever so slightly worse for wear. He is staring directly at the feet and refuses to make eye contact with either one of us so I can only assume that he was feeling a bit embarrassed. Without looking up he says to Corin, "You didn't get my message" (a comment that should have been a question came out as a statement. As if he was so bloody sure of himself). He then goes on to moan about his surgery and how he is in pain and licking his wounds like the little - okay I am getting agitated just thinking about him.

Basically Corin takes him aside and discusses matter privately in the other room while I wait around awkwardly trying to make conversation with the other two guys in the room. They, unlike Bob, seemed pretty normal and not at all agitated that I was there. Seriously, I have no idea what was up with the guy! Someone pissed in his cheerios.

While Corin was still talking with Bob I put my bag in her room and then went to the bathroom to freshen up. Fifteen minutes later Corin comes back and she takes me aside in her room. She seemed ruffled about something so I can only imagine what Bob had said to her. I thought maybe he wasn't feeling well or something happened...but what I didn't expect was what she said next: "So apparently you can't stay here." My jaw literally drops. I am completely and utterly speechless.

"I know." Corin says red-faced with embarrassment. "Oh my god, I am so sorry. I have no idea what to do! He is just being completely unreasonable."

I am still in shock from the whole situation so it took a while for me to formulate an adequate response to the matter...and a couple pints of course. Which is why we grabbed our stuff, said our goodbyes (of which Bob was sitting nice and pretty in his room, nowhere to be seen of course) and headed to the pub. I felt so bad that Corin had to deal with that nutter as a roommate! If he was my roommate I would have beat his scrawny arse for talking to a person like that, let alone a lady! Oh I had some words to say to him but I kept my mouth shut because Corin was in a bit of a tight situation.

See she only recently moved in to the place a couple of weeks ago and she pays rent to Bob (the freak of nature). But Bob isn't the landlord exactly, he sublets the place and pays the rent to the landlord. She also never signed any rent agreement or contract (big mistake!) and so she was in a relatively awkward situation as she didn't want to get kicked out herself.

I felt so bad for her but it also left me in a bit of a predicament..I was now in desperate need of a place to sleep for the rest of the week and it being one of the busiest week/weekends, finding a place that was cheap, let alone available, was next to impossible. But Corin, who felt really upset and embarrassed for the scene that her roommate caused payed for me to stay in a hostel out of her own pocket! I had no idea she did this until we got to the hostel and while I definitely appreciated it, I never expected her to do something like that. Goes to show you how many awesome people you can meet travelling!

The next few days were much better. I met a fellow Canadian girl at my hostel and we went out for dinner at this place called the Bison Bar near Temple Bar. We were recommended this place by the hostel receptionist and were told that they marinate their meat for 15 hours each day so when it's gone, it's gone. The restaurant was very busy but it had an awesome rustic, western vibe. Luckily we found an empty table and then went to the bar to order our food.

I ordered the half rack of ribs, onion rings, potato salad and an iced cold pint of Carlsberg. I know what you're thinking, it's Ireland! I should be drinking Guinness. But honestly, guinness is not my drink. I had a pint while I was here but I am not a fan of stout, as I prefer to stick with my lagers.

Okay the ribs though, were godsend! They were so juicy and tender, and the meat literally fell right off the bone! I will have dreams about these ribs for the rest of my life, they were that good!

On Friday I went exploring throughout the city. A friend of mine recommended the Abbey but unfortunately it was closed until June, so instead I went to the National Gallery as it was free and I love art. There was some really nice artwork at the gallery; a bit of Picasso, a few Monet and more than a couple Rembrandt...but the gallery was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. After going to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam I guess my expectations were a little high but I thought it would be slightly more than 1-2 levels...I was wrong. But it was still a pleasant experience!

I had gotten through the entire gallery in under an hour and still had a lot of time to kill so I went to a nearby bakery and grabbed a quick lunch. Then I went back to my hostel, took a short nap and decided to head over to Temple Bar to join in on the festivities.

Even though it was still only 6:30pm people were out celebrating! It was lovely to see everyone in green, chugging pints of beer and singing (really bad) renditions of Chelsea Dagger (not an Irish song in any sense but you can't really blame them as they were all foreign). I even joined in on a few beer funnelling shenanigans...yes in the middle of the street! Gotta love the Irish! :)

I decided to make this a two part read as it was getting quite long, so look out for the next part of the adventure! It involves a load of pints, a few killer dance moves and a crippling 3-day bender...Stay Tuned :)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Tales of Scotland: A Ceilidh To Remember

Tales of Scotland:
A Ceilidh To Remember

I have officially been in Scotland for over 6 months and throughout this time I have explored the Scottish Highlands, ate a delicious meal of Haggis and Cullen Skink, wandered aimlessly through the gothic streets of Edinburgh and celebrated Hogmanay (of which my recollection is only 10% of the night), but I had not had the chance to experience the quintessential Scottish tradition: a ceilidh.

This being said, when my mate (Scott) from Glasgow invited me to a ceilidh he was hosting at his student union, I jumped at the chance! And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

A Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is a social gathering where a band is hired to play traditional gaelic music while everyone dances along to the songs. Now this isn't an event where you can show off your superior dance repertoire of running mans and MC Hammer dancing. No, these dances are set.

Don't worry, this isn't like a 90s movie scene where everyone knows all the dances and just breaks out randomly without explanation or instruction. Well, to be fair a lot of Scottish natives do know most of the dances already but this is because they were taught them all through grade school. Fortunately, if you aren't familiar with any of the dances like I am, they explain the moves before each song. They are relatively easy dances and even if you struggle at first, you usually end up getting it by the end of the dance.

Hey if I can do it, you can do it. Believe me, dancing isn't exactly my specialty...

If you ever get the pleasure of attending a ceilidh, I will give you a couple of tips that will better prepare you. This is based off of similar advice I was given before attending, and my own observations after.

1. Wear comfortable clothing
  • Most ceilidhs are semi-formal events but that doesn't mean you need to dress fancy. However I would advise you to leave the grubby slacks at home.
  • Ladies, this is not the time to show off your 5-inch stiletto heels that you got on sale at Primark. Nope, you will not be able to move and you will fall and break your ankle no matter how much you insist that they are 'comfortable' or that you are 'a pro at walking and dancing in heels'. Substitute for flats or nice trainers. Believe me, your feet will thank you afterward.
  • Also, if you are wearing a dress I would advise you to put on spandex shorts underneath because you will be picked up and spun around during the dances and no one wants to see your new thong no matter how cute you think it is. Let your privates stay private; not everyone has to be privy to Victoria's Secrets...
  • Men usually wear the traditional kilt but it definitely not mandatory! Just don't come in shorts and a t-shirt.

2. You WILL be bruised afterwards
  • Ceilidhs can get pretty violent. I don't mean people bringing out the brass knuckles and nun-chucks and starting a brawl. I mean be prepared to be swung pretty aggressively especially during the final dance of the evening called Strip the Willow. It is the easiest and definitely the most fun dance of the night (also the most exhausting!) but some of the guys find it hilarious whipping the girls across the dance floor. Believe me, I have welts to prove it!
  • But don't let this scare you off. Ceilidh's are totally worth the battle scars and if my experience frightens you, just remember that I have skinny chicken arms and the upper body strength of a paper clip so obviously I bruised much easier than any normal person.

3. Do not get drunk and ceilidh
  • Sure you can drink, this is a party remember? But be cautious with how much you consume. I can almost promise you that you will have trouble doing the dance moves if you are completely wasted. And if you collapse on the floor, no one will shovel your arse off. No, they will just dance around you (and sometimes on you). So be aware!

4. Wear deodorant
  • You WILL sweat. So for all you pompous ladies who insist that you never sweat...stop lying to yourself. This isn't just a warning, it's a fact. So deal with it.
  • And men, please for the love of all that is holy in the world, freshen up those pits! No one likes BO. This counts for you too ladies, clean pits make for happy ceilidh!

5. Stop stressing!
  • If you are a perfectionist like me and get incredibly stressed out when you mess up, stop! 
  • Ceilidhs are meant to be fun and if you mess up, who cares?! You're human and no one is going to judge you. 
  • And the truth is, you are definitely not the only one messing up! Believe me, even the veteran ceilidh dancers mess up at some point or another. The point is to have a good time not to showcase your skills on the dance floor!

If you get the chance to go to a Ceilidh, I strongly recommend it! It is unity and a genuine love of Scottish culture in it's purest form. Especially at the end when everyone joins hands and sings the traditional Auld Lang Syne. 

*sigh* It was a truly magical and heartwarming experience.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

How To Cure Writer's Block

How To Cure Writer's Block
Let's Kick The Curse!

Every once in a while I get into a bit of a 'brain funk' when I start to feel unmotivated, uninteresting and unoriginal. It's as if every ounce of creativity in my entire being disintegrates, leaving me empty, hollow and staring blankly at the computer screen waiting for a spark of genius to hit me.

Now there are a few reasons this occurs:
1. I'm lazy and thus I am always finding myself in a rut needing motivation to get the gears in motion. 
2. I have this terrible problem where I start things but never finish them, and maybe this is me repelling every ounce of productivity because I am starting to commit to an idea.
But the most accurate:
3. I'm human

Everyone get's writer's block at one point or another, it is an inevitable and inescapable fate. But what separates you from being a good writer to just being an average one, is how you go about dealing with it. To quote Penelope, "It's not the power of the curse, it's the power you give the curse".

So let's evaluate your options:
You can choose to ignore it; pretending that such a thing does not exist and thus suffer silently through it.
You can give up altogether.
You can grow some balls and confront the problem head on. Once you embrace being human, then you can find a way to make the best of the situation or "make lemonade" if you will.

But I say screw lemonade...let's just head straight for the shot of tequila. There is no room for pansies here.

So lets take writer's block as a challenge and kick it right in the proverbial balls.

Without further ado, here are some things you can do to kick the curse:

A Change Of Scenery

Sometimes being stuck in the same room day after day puts a strain on your creativity, and all it takes is a change of location to shake things up a bit and get the creative juices flowing. So I encourage you to get out of your usual routine and refresh yourself with new surroundings. All you need is yourself, a sense of adventure and a good ole fashioned pen and paper.

1. Go to the park, sit on a bench and embrace nature.

  • Write what you feel.
  • Write what you see.
Not only will this reawaken your creativity but it will also add life and substance into your writing.

-If you happen to live in Scotland or another place with less desirable weather conditions and sitting outside isn't such a good idea-

2. Go to a coffee shop, order a steaming cup of brew and people watch.

  • Choose a seat next to a window or on a comfy couch. 
    • Avoid any tables that are situated in a corner or away from people. 
      • First of all, you don't want to seem creepy 
      • And secondly, you are trying to get out of your funk not remain in it for eternity 
  • Now people watch. 
    • **Just remember to be stealthy or else you will look indefinitely creepy and may warrant a restraining order if you cross any boundaries**
    • As you are people watching, make up stories about their lives and use bits and pieces of their conversation as a starting point. 
    • Be observant and catch all the tiny subtleties: 
      • Details in clothing, facial expressions, posture, tone of voice, etc.
  • You can also pretend you are a private investigator and give yourself a backstory and identity. Have fun with it!
It doesn't matter where you go just make sure that you get out of your usual routine!

Clear Your Mind

For some people meditation is the best way of clearing the mind. I however, have a problem with focusing and staying still, and thus meditation isn't a good solution for me.

I also let stress build up over time instead of dealing with it right away. When this happens, I start to devalue myself and my surroundings and this reflects, not only in my state of being, but in my bedroom. What I find clears my mind, is literally clearing up the clutter. The saying, "Tidy Room, Tidy Mind" is all too true in my case.

This is my 3 step solution to clearing the mind:

1. Start by removing all distractions.

  • Take away the clutter
  • Put your clothes away
  • Throw away the rubbish

2. Light some scented candles

  • I use cranberry because it has a calming and nostalgic effect on me but vanilla and lavender are good substitutes.
  • Try not to use anything too strong, you don't need a headache.

3. Put on some relaxing tunes

  • For me, a little Frank Sinatra or Otis Redding works wonders
  • Avoid anything that "drops the bass" this is not the time, nor the place
Now you should be instantly calm and ready to focus. If not, you are doing it wrong...maybe you should stop listening to shite music...just a suggestion.

Set Yourself Deadlines

Okay, I am literally the worst person to suggest this because I never follow any of the deadlines that I give myself. In fact, I usually use them as an excuse to get out of doing any work. But if you are more structured and progress well under discipline then this might work for you.

Reward Yourself For Progress

We all have childish tendencies and sometimes we need to reach out to that inner child in all of us that craves recognition and rewards for our accomplishments...and I am not talking about Nobel Peace Prize worthy achievements, I mean the simple act of writing one paragraph or page of work.

Acknowledge the fact that you were able to focus on something and actually be productive for once. You deserve a cookie!

For example: Every time you get a page written, you can watch an episode of Suits (or whatever other show you are interested in)

Just make sure you limit the amount of time you have your rewards because it is easy to get caught up and sucked into the internet trap ("oh just one more episode won't hurt'...*3 hours later*..."just one more"...and so on).

It's all good to coddle yourself once in a while but be careful because you can easily take advantage of yourself and get nothing done. I speak from experience.

Dance Break

I find that these are one of the most overlooked and underrated solutions to life's problems. In fact, I would go as far as saying that they are essential to keeping your sanity intact. You would be surprised how much stress you can shake off after a 3-5 minute dance break! 

Step 1: Set an alarm every 30 minutes or every hour
Step 2: Drop your pen and stop writing
Step 3: Get off your arse
Step 4: Put on some funky tunes
Step 5: Bust a move

**Keep in mind your surroundings**
For example, if you are in a library or coffee shop (or any other public place for that matter), I would rethink this step. As much as I am all for PDD (Public Displays of Dancing), not everyone is so forgiving and it might get you kicked out of the establishment, which wouldn't be very good. On the contrary, however, it would be a funny story. So if you do decide to PDD, then write about your experience! If not, maybe just stick in your earphones and limit it to a conservative tapping of the foot, shimmying in the seat or a simple nod of the head.

The best thing about Dance Breaks, especially if you are in the privacy of your own room, is that you don't have to care about what people think. You can be the next Chris Brown or Beyonce and have dancing down to an art. Or you can move like Mick Jagger on acid...or Mick Jagger period, mind you. The point is, you can release all your inhibitions and stress through pelvic thrusts, funky chickens and running man grooves, and no one can judge you!

Need some dance tips? Carlton can show you a few things, and so can Will. Go Wild!

Sleep On It

Sometimes the solution is as simple as catching a few z's. Allow your brain the chance to relax and rejuvenate, and maybe you will wake up bursting with new ideas!

Word Vomit

Sometimes there is so much going on in your mind that you can't begin to make sense of things. In these cases, do what I call Word Spew -or- Word Vomit.

1. Sit down and write whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn't make sense.

  • Write about what you did today, what you ate, etc...
  • I find that the hardest part is the first draft. After you get everything out of your jumbled mind, then you can start polishing the edges and make sense of the chaos.
2. Forget about your grammar, punctuation or sentence structure; just write.

  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, allow yourself to make mistakes. Stop trying to be a perfectionist.

Do A Couple Of Writing Prompts

If your mind is completely blank and none of the solutions above have helped you, consider trying a couple of writing prompts to get yourself back into the swing of things. For example: One of my mates from school, Evan Bawtinheimer, had a brilliant idea of putting a new question each day onto his Facebook page as a means of stimulating conversation and discussion. Sometimes all it takes to find inspiration is putting pen to paper. You never know what magic will ensue! :)

Here are some great writing prompts to get you started.

And last but not least...

Have A Night Out

Now I am in no way promoting alcohol consumption as the be all and end all solution to life's problems. We all know that is not true. In fact, you don't need to be drunk to have a good time. Sometimes it is hilarious being the sober one and watching all your drunk friends make arseholes out of themselves. Every time I go out (whether I drink or not) I always, without a doubt, have a story to tell the next day.

On the contrary, however, I will say what it may, sometimes my best ideas come at the bottom of a pint glass. Some of the world's greatest writers can agree with that:

Tennessee Williams
Dorothy Parker
Edgar Allan Poe
Jack Kerouac
-and most notably-
Ernest Hemingway

They, however, were alcoholics and none of them had good fates....I wouldn't follow in their footsteps if I were you.

So while a couple of pints won't do you any harm, don't make this a ritual and try not to overdo it because those very same ideas may not seem so great the next morning as you are dry heaving overtop of a toilet bowl. Again...I speak from experience.

And if all else fails, just remember to limit the amount of time you feel sorry for yourself because sometimes the best way to get out of your funk is to pull yourself out of it.

Good Luck Kicking The Curse! 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Chronicles of Stupidity: Jocelyn's Hogmanay Misadventures

The Chronicles of Stupidity:
Jocelyn's Hogmanay Misadventures

Okay this one is going to be a bit of a short one because frankly...there isn't much to tell as I don't remember much from that night but it is still a story worth sharing. and it also gives you a bit of a laugh at my expense so that's always an added bonus!

So if you never heard about the famous Hogmanay celebration, I will give you a little background information. Hogmanay is the biggest New Years Eve celebration in the world (yes, it is bigger than Times Square) and it takes place in Scotland (Edinburgh has the biggest celebration in particular).

There are street parties, ceilidhs, flat parties, fireworks, concerts, the works! And the evening always concludes with the traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne.

So this was my night (or more accurately, what I can remember from it):
  • I pre-drank with my friend and her flatmates
  • We took the train into Edinburgh
  • We split up
    • They went to the Street Party and I met up with my mate Edna at her work (we worked together on a short film a couple of months ago and have become close friends)
  • Then we drank, partied, drank some more, etc...
  • The clock hits midnight, we opened a celebratory bottle of champagne (bad idea for me seeing as I was already heavily intoxicated and wine does terrible things to me). Then we danced and sung Auld Lang Syne and after that....things start getting kind of hazy.

Next thing I know it I am wandering the creepy dark streets of Edinburgh alone, partying with randoms and generally oblivious to everything around me. Apparently what happened is that Edna went to the washroom and in my state of confusion I just wandered off...I have no idea why as I was drunk.

There's not much that I remember but I do recall ending up in a Rickshaw at some point. I have no idea how...but that did happen, I assure you.

The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed with no recollection of how I got there and I checked my phone to find 75 missed calls on Viber from my parents.

Apparently intoxicated and stupid Jocelyn decided to drunk call her family and speak to them in English, French, Italian and German (This is coming from them...I don't even know Italian or German!). Now before you think I discovered my drunk talent of being a whiz at languages, it was apparently awful and incoherent. So there goes that!

The worst thing was that I had my parents all worried and my poor brother was up all night worried sick on his birthday. I had made an absolute arse of myself!

I also had bruises everywhere and I ripped my jeans (again) suggesting that I must have taken a few tumbles during this drunken stupor.

Safe to say I started off another year with a terrible hangover and an idiotic tale to tell...although the fact that I ended up on a Rickshaw is still a bit hilarious.

So what have we learned from Jocelyn's stupidity kids? Don't be an idiot. Don't drunk dial anyone. And don't drink it does terrible things to you.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Years Eve (one that you actually remembered unlike mine) and made your New Years Resolutions. Just curiosity, but how many of you have actually stuck to those resolutions? Or by now are you sitting on your couch with a bag of Doritos starring longingly at the models on your magazine cover wondering if becoming bikini body ready is a state of mind or do you actually have to go to the gym...okay maybe that's just me.

Happy New Year Everyone! Let's Make 2014 A Year To Remember :)


If this is your first post that you have read from the Christmas Chronicles, I will post the rest of the links below so you can read the series in it's entirety. Cheers! Joss xx