Friday, 30 September 2011

life in boxes

Packing. The bane of many people’s existences – but not mine. Not me, no sir, I love packing. You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m serious. Deciding what is important enough to go in a box is a joy.
Yeah, I was kidding. At first it was fun but now, as I realise that I really am a shameless symptom of consumerism (AKA I have too much stuff), I just want it to be over. Luckily, despite the mess seen below, I’m actually remarkably near the end. Another two or three hours and I’ll be free!
It’s actually quite surreal that in two days (pretty much exactly to the minute, as I’m writing this at 1:15pm) I’ll actually have moved in to my Uni room – or at least, I’ll be struggling across the quad with a box of printer in my arms. It would be untrue to say I’ve been waiting for over a year for this day; it would be untrue to say I can’t believe it’s real; and it would be untrue to say I’m more excited than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m not actually that excited, but that’s not to say I’m not looking forward to it. I’m just going to try to take it as it comes, really, and try to enjoy the last two days before one of the most stressful parts of my short life begins!
Funnily enough, I actually won’t spend my last day before University in the house – why? You’ve probably guessed it. Yes, guys, I have another job interview – I’m giving this whole “let’s earn money instead of relying on the parents” thing another shot. This time I’ll travelling to a hotel in London (a two-hour journey each way) for a five-hour long interview with a company which organises skiing trips in the Alps for schools in the UK. The job I’m interviewing for is a languages liaison – my job would basically entail getting paid to speak French and/or German for a week or two in the Easter holidays. Travel, accommodation and a ski pass are included, and on top of that I get a salary! It sounds like a brilliant job but I’ve learnt not to get my hopes up. Instead, I’ll do my best in the interview and hope for a job offer.
Still, though, what an exciting weekend, right? May I draw your attention to the horoscope I mentioned a while back saying that my love life, my social life and my career would take off in October?! Well, the 1st of October will be spent interviewing for a perfect student job; the 2nd of October will be spent moving to University and meeting loads of people; and who knows, perhaps on Monday I’ll meet the love of my life?
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

band crush: mama rosin

“Do you like to go to festivals?”
“Yeah, but I tend to just go to the ones nearby or the ones I can volunteer at.”
“But then what’s the point? Why go if you don’t know if a band you like is going to play there?”
“I prefer going to a festival having no idea who’s going to play.”
“Well that’s just stupid, not to mentioned a waste of time and potentially money.”
“What? I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you over the sound of… Mama Rosin.”
I’ve had this conversation several times in the last year, though I have to admit, without the suave ending. And I’m still not sure if the last line should be filed as ‘suave’ or ‘douchey’. Still, it’s a good summary of why I do festivals the way I do. Having no idea who’s going to play, and also going to smaller festivals, means you’re guaranteed an awesome experience meeting loads of new people – this is where the volunteering comes in! – and discovering some bands you might never otherwise have discovered.
Mama Rosin is this archetypical kind of “I went to this festival and discovered an amazing band” band. When I stewarded at WOOD Festival – an eco-friendly, small, folk and world festival held in a commune-owned field in the middle of Oxfordshire – I had several hours a day free, most of which I spent lying on the grass in front of the ‘main’ stage (a tiny construction of wood beams, smaller than an average truck). When Mama Rosin came on in the early evening I was blown away. I’m not very good at reviews, but I’ll try because I think they’re such an amazing band that they deserve a little effort.
This band is unfettered by needing to fit in to some mould. They do fit into a mould, but that’s not what defines them. Their carefree yet chilled out sound comes primarily from the lead singer’s raspy, slightly slurred, Louisiana-inspired voice combined in a delicious honey-mead with the the largely unrefined, slightly tipsy, gratifyingly simple arrangement of traditional American folk instruments upon which it rests. The banjo, the accordion, the guitar, the accordion, the washboard and the uncomplicated and imperfect harmonies pull together for a distinctly laid-back, smoky, weekend sound.
Mama Rosin prove that if you find something you love, something you can do well, you should just run with it. There is no straightforward reason why a Lebanese accordion player and a French-Swiss University drop-out decided to live in a duck farm in the Alps and spend their days making music which is plucked straight out of the Louisiana Bayeux, but I thank the powers that be that they did.
Anyway, that’s enough talking, so here’s a song for you!

It also bears mentioning that when I saw these three alpine neo-Cajuns hippity-hopping about on a stage made of sticks, I developed a minor crush on this guy:

Ok, I know that he’s not hot. Even I am not that blind -- but he is my type.
On second thought, he does resemble a skinny Wolverine with a tambourine.
Well, it’s like I said.
My type.

Friday, 23 September 2011

should they stay or should they go?

I’ve never really been one for trinkets or pointless possessions. Kitsch has no place in my space – sure, I had a ceramic angel phase when I was about eleven, but I quickly realised that the combination of two things (the size of British houses and my dislike of all things impractical) meant that nothing in my room could be superfluous.
Of course, there is the occasional purposeless Lebkuchen heart, or the collection of touristy fans which I really can’t justify keeping in the same pot as my silk daffodils (come to think of it, the silk daffodils aren’t really earning their keep either) – but other than that, all the stuff which stands around and takes up space at least has to be able to pretend to be vaguely useful.
Enter the list of vaguely useful items I cannot bear to part with:
  • a tin of novelty knives (justification: what if I need to cut up an apple and I can’t find any other knives in the house?)
  • the aforementioned souvenir fans (justification: it gets hot in summer)
  • dozens of toiletries (justification: what do you mean, I don’t need age-defying night cream?)
  • felt tip pens in all colours (justification: you never know when you might need a brown or a green felt tip pen. What if I need to draw a tree? Am I right?)
  • a small mountain of touristy leather bookmarks (justification: I read books)
  • candles (justification: it gets cold in the winter)
P1020805 P1020804
As you can see, my clutter isn’t really clutter. Or I guess that depends on your definition of clutter, but it isn’t really to me. And yet, preparing for University, I find myself having to make some decisions. Decisions like should I take the red felt tip as well as the pink, like does the turtle-shaped cushion need to make an appearance in my Uni room, and like how many souvenir fans is too many? The answer to that last one, I’ve come to the sad decision, is one. That’s right, people. No souvenir fans are making the move to Cowcrossing*.
It’s interesting how the decisions I make about what should stay and what should go make such a clear statement about me, and how I have a control over that statement. Do I want to take my Aragorn knife? If I take it with me, it’s a kitschy souvenir I won’t use, which ties me on to my far too intense LOTR obsession; on the other hand, if it stays here, does that mean I’m callously rejecting that part of my nerdy past and – let’s not lie, and why should I – present? It also means I have to make the hard decisions to leave some of my mugs, some of my books, and all of my candles behind.
Decisions, decisions. But to be honest, ione of my favourite things about travelling and moving is getting that chance to to live without the luxury you’d built up. It’s unburdened.
So here we go. Silk daffodils stay home, felt tip pens come with; Aragorn knife stays, touristy leather bookmarks come ; age-defying face cream stays, souvenir fans…
They stay too. Come on, dude. I won’t need a fan at University.
It’s a good thing I’m not going to IKEA tomorrow with the hope of buying even more stuff. Hmmm…
*new nickname for Oxford, Y/Y?

Folder-design related sidenote: One of the things which are coming with me to University are obviously my ring binders. But I don’t want them to be boring – oh no! So to spice up the folders, I cut out some designs in craft paper and stuck them on, one folder per module. The modules are: Plays and Film in the first term; Prose and Mediaeval in the second term; and Poetry and Philosophy in the third term. Don’t they look pretty? You might also be able to spy that the side of the philosophy folder has a back-sticker on it. These are things which I’ve only seen in Germany, and I think they’re amazing. You get seven stickers, and when you put them on thee back of your ring binders, they make a picture! In this case, a map of the world. I think you can spy Australia and eastern Russia on philosophy!
Tattoo-related sidenote: Not so hot on the idea right now as I was last week. Still pretty sure I’ll get one in my life, just not anytime soon. They’re just so… permanent. I am liking the idea of white tattoos though. Firstly, because they do tend to fade a lot (which is good), and secondly because they’re not so easy to see unless you know they’re there. They just look like scars unless you point them out. And since this really is a tattoo primarily for me, that seems appropriate. Just thought you might be interested!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Got Ink?

I’ve not stopped thinking about getting a tattoo since I made a post in which I listed some of my favourites. . I’m not planning on getting one right now, but it's fun top play around with ideas. And anyway, who knows?

1) Heritage flowers. The first idea and one I’ve had longest is this one, to get the two flowers of my heritage tattooed on my body - that is, of Scotland and Germany, more specifically, Bavaria. I don’t think I need to go into much detail, since flowers and heritage tattoos are both realtively common and self-explanatory, but as I’ve always been rootless between these two roots, I am strongly drawn to them.

What are the flowers? An edelweiss for Bavaria (the alpine bit of Germany where I’m from), and a thistle for Scotland.

I’ve done a few little sketches to show the designs: I’d want the tattoos in brown, and in more of an outline than a true-to-life style. It’s important that the tattoo is hideable, yet something I can see and show without too much difficulty – that means no wrists, but also no inner thigh.

tattoo flower tattoo flower2


2) Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis. This tattoo idea came to me more recently so it’s something I’ll definitely let grow for a while longer. Obviously Scandinavia and Iceland are extremely important to me and have been for quite a while, so I think this is a very good and beautiful way of showing my love to the world. I also think that, as with the heritage flower tattoos, this would be comforting for me.

northlight tattooo

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Please let me know what you think of the designs, the placements, even the very idea of getting a tattoo! Would you get one? Have you got one? If so, what would you get? I’m really curious!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Viva Barcelona!

Adios, amigos! I’m going on holiday tomorrow, and I won’t be back until the 14th of September. Where am I going? You guessed it – Spain! First I’m visiting Sony, a friend I met in Iceland who is a German ex-pat living in Barcelona, after which I’ll spend ten days in a holiday cottage on the Costa Brava with two old school friends. It’s going to be muy bien, I hope! (Maybe I'll even learn to speak Spanish, though if that were my aim I'm going to the wrong part of Spain - the part where they hate Spanish!)

This is me when I was there nine years ago. I liked climbing on rocks. I still do!

2002-04-Begur 007

Until my return, please don’t pine – I’ll be back! xxx