We Are What We Do

Monday, 28 April 2008

In the Interests of the Intro

Hello, my name is Hannah, I spend a lot of time drinking coffee and talking rubbish with my friends. It takes me several attempts to get out of bed in the morning. Every night I convince myself I'm going to get up at the crack of dawn and go on an early morning run, every morning I convince myself that I'll go for a run tomorrow, and so begins the vicious cycle. I do not believe in God and get annoyed if anyone preaches to me, yet the concept of religion and faith interests me to the point of reading a book entitled 'The End of Faith' which I don't really understand but try to. I enjoy everything about art, textiles, drawing, painting yet I feel guilty if I indulge too much because I 'should' be doing something that will actually help towards a good degree. It is not so much I dislike sport, it is more the case that it dislikes me and I was never a firm believer of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. I want to travel, partly to get away from the real world, partly to experience the real world. I enjoy meeting new people, that is why I've stopped to chat.

So, enough about me, what do you do?

What do you do... that is what a guy recently asked me. I had just met him and we were still at the awkward, judgmental stage of the meeting. Embarrassingly I misheard him and started reeling off my favorite alcoholic beverages, luckily he ordered me a drink rather than ringing AA. But it started me thinking about what it was exactly that I did? Also how much should you tell someone you have first met? Do they form an opinion of you on how much or how little you say?

What if rather than simply stating someones name you provided your own introduction to that person? A classic British introduction would consist of name, occupation and relation. Laugh in the face of politeness and you could say anything you wanted to. Oh how I could have my revenge on those whom I never was given the chance to.

So in my hazy memory I am pretty sure I gave him an exact listing of my life, in bullet point format. I had been confronted and so I panicked. You feel you almost have to sell yourself when someone asks you something like that. All spotlight is on you to perform, almost like a Gillette advert minus the foam. I attempted to disguise my non-sporting C.V with a lousy comment about the occasional trip to the gym, which takes place once every year when Saturn passes over the Sun. The next day I realised that whoever would ask a question like that probably lacked the spontaneity element that comes with a chance meeting. Who needs to know what you do? It should be what interests you and what you're passionate about.
I doubt I'll loose too much sleep over what he does or doesn't do.

Until the next thought...

Hannah xx

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The Story Behind the Gaze

Whenever I see a photograph what really brings it to life is putting a story behind it. It provides a reason why the person is smiling at the camera or why they are gazing pensively into the distance. I don't always put stories behind faces, if I did my time spent on Facebook would most certainly become a cause for concern. But every now and again I come across a photograph and my mind races.

I have to admit I'm a self-confessed people watcher. I could sit in a cafe and watch people hurry to and fro all day. It's almost like watching through the window at a make believe truman show. You can decide who's world evolves around shopping for tea-cosies, who's rushing to satisfy their strawberry ice-cream craving and who's truly, madly in love with the woman at the pick'n'mix stall in St. Davids. It doesn't matter how crazy the story is, for that fleeting minute when that particular person walks by you can believe anything you want to believe. It is only you who knows the truth behind who will receive the forget-me-nots from the stud in the leather jacket. That is the whole fun of creativity. Unfortunately I do not have all day to watch people dizzy back and forth in front of me, that is when I start with photographs.

One photograph really struck me the other day and that is how this blog came about. On the Times website they have certain slideshows on different countries. Normally I cling to the places I've been to in a hope to catch a glimpse of somewhere familiar to me. I have never been to Paris but I would love to go. Paris brings dainty cafe's surrounding the Eiffel Tower, the power of the french language to make my heart melt, pain au chocolats in the morning and cherry red berets. There amidst the woman who made money from making public her love affair was a couple sat at a table in a French cafe looking intently at a laptop screen.

It was all there, the dark red walls which made the cafe reminiscent of a moulin rouge boudoir minus the seediness. Outside you can imagine a woman tottering along with brown Mary Jane shoes and a classic polka dot dress like the scene in Sex and the City where Carrie took on Paris with her unique style. The man and woman in the photo look comfortably in love. Perhaps they are booking to go on a trip around Europe or looking for an apartment with french shutters and quirky retro wallpaper. Or perhaps they are reading the news together, as it is early morning and it is a tradition which takes place everyday before they say their goodbyes and head off to work. Him a freelance writer, her a photographer. Both taking in the culture of life everyday and then meeting again after work to discuss what they have seen and who they have met. Maybe they are saving to set up their own business, put their skills together and create a story about a European summer romance.

See...it is not hard to get carried away with someone elses life. Obviously I do not know who they are, I probably never will, but it sets the scene to really appreciate a photograph. To see the potential the photographer has seen. I like the tiny blue teapot and the way she is slightly leaning into him to see the screen on the laptop. It is every part of a photograph which makes it what it is.

So next time you see a photograph which catches your eye spend time looking behind the photograph and make your own story.

Until the next thought... (or when i have time!!)

Hannah xx

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Nostalgic Childhood

Every time I go in the Spar on the corner I have to buy a drumstick. It has become one of those day to day traditions that perhaps is getting slightly out of hand. I have no reasoning behind buying them, all I can think is that it is almost a gateway to my inner child. It's on par with midnight feasts, jumping in puddles and climbing trees. I just can't let go of this weird nostalgic kick I get from doing these sorts of things.

I went to the park with my niece the other day and ended up on the monkey bars. She can't go on them because she's unable to reach but that didn't stop me. No, I was going to swing to my hearts content. I am not sure whether it was for personal gain or because I wanted to tell myself that deep down I hadn't grown up one bit. There's something incredibly liberating about dangling, legs in the air, swinging bar to bar in probably the most unattractive manner possible. Then came the stepping stones. I haven't stepped foot on a stepping stone since the time I fell face first into the pond and nearly knocked myself out. But it started me thinking, why do you need to grow up?

Obviously perhaps things you used to do when you were younger aren't as exciting or appealing as they used to be. The idea of gardening makes my fingernails tremble with fear and I much prefer spending an hour deciding which pepper is better value in tesco's than actually growing my own. There is, however, a huge part of me that craves the days when you could get away with anything. A huge toothless grin got me through accidentally sticking an ice-cream in someones face and a teary 'sorry mummy' got me out of trouble when I accidentally set the parking clock incorrectly and she got a parking fine. Those days seem to be a lifetime away, now I keep being told I have to be 'responsible'. Eurgh....but why? Why do I have to have enough money in my bank account to buy a new dress? Isn't that why credit cards were invented, because someone out there decided it was more fun to spend money that you don't have? And when it comes to careers my "When I grow up I want to be an astronaut" is increasingly becoming "Next year I'm a real grown up and it's looking increasingly like I'm going to become trapped in the world of offices, ties and old men".

Perhaps responsibility is something which comes with time? University is definitely a very comfy stepping stone into the adultworld. I love saying "I'm a student", it offers you a wall to hide behind. "I'm sorry madam your card has been declined"...."Oh it's ok I'm a student, my fees must have come out". There's so much less judgement, I love it. No wonder Van Wilder didn't want to leave university...

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Who invented lime and vodka anyway?

My days been an absolute waste. I drank green drinks last night and now I look an unflattering tinge of green myself. I've also almost drank an entire 2Litre bottle of diet coke in a desperate attempt to shift my hangover, because somewhere in the back of my mind I remember reading something about it restoring sugar levels when you are hungover. However, it's diet, so that probably doesn't work really does it?

On top of a hangover from hell my mum has been openly telling me what a disappointment I've been today because I haven't managed to move from the sofa and help her with my nieces. That is literally the last thing I needed to hear in my state. I realise it is self-inflicted but when I have a hangover I treat it as a proper illness. In my eyes I don't get ill very often and so if there was such a thing as sick days in life, as in work, a hangover day would fall under the same category as flu. It is a little like mans flu, I roll around the house all day moaning even though nobody cares; I want to eat the biggest, fattest burger invented because sod the diet, all I want is to feel normal; and I expect everyone to rally round me because if I move from my spot on the sofa I get the distinct feeling the floor is going to come in contact with my face. As with mans flu, hangover day results in myself not getting any work done and so here I am, a bloody disaster area.

I do normally love it though. The girls and I normally lie around on Lynds's bed laughing hysterically about the previous night's antics. Then we scrutinise the photographic evidence and begin piecing the night together. It's like a club, without a hangover there is no membership. However, at home I'm always the only one is my house feeling crap, so I have to just wallow in my own self pity and cringe at who would have seen my queen stylee nose dive off the stage or my 'sexy' (most definitely was not sexy) solo pole dancing in Follies. Follies, the local classy establishment, full of sophistication and eligible bachelors. Careful, you almost believed me then.

A morning after a night out will most probably involve a lot of Facebook apologies. I don't know where I'd be without Facebook to sort my life out. Apparently there's going to be a monthly Facebook magazine, that should be interesting... Perhaps they will have random peoples profiles to nose through. I would say this would bore me, but then it's more than likely I would pick it up and read it if I saw it in WH Smith. Obviously hidden in a corner under a sheet of newspapers just incase people thought facebook had actually taken over my life.

When I was working in the city centre last week the audacity of the people who stand reading magazines in shops without buying them amazed me. That concept has just never entered my head. Perhaps they're the modern equivalent of a book club? Maybe they meet on Friday lunchtimes to discuss their magazines and rate them out of 10. After all, stealing is not classed as stealing unless you have left the shop without paying for an item. However, there just seems something wrong about what they are doing and perhaps a little sad. After all the people who stand around the aisles of WH smith and other newsagents seem to all be working men. If it was me I would rather relax on the sofas in Starbucks, cafe latte in one hand, marshmallow dipped in chocolate with hundreds and thousands in the other and a big, fat magazine on my lap. My idea of heaven. I guess it must be to save funds, perhaps when Amy and myself are bigshot magazine journalists we can go and blast them all out of there at lunchtimes. Or not.

Until the next thought...

Hannah xx

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Life is for Living

I was on the Press Gazette website yesterday and read an extract on the Student Journalism blog by Dave Lee entitled "Student journalists want whats best for this industry, so use us!"
(http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/students/2008/03/21/student-journalists-want-whats-best-for-this-industry-so-use-us/). In the blog Lee exposed his desire to be sent to a 'grotty, horrible' corner of the world to report on the realities of war, conflict, and life. In response blogger 'Martin' said that it was dangerous to send inexperienced journalists out to cover events as they might be killed. I do understand what he is saying, however I can't help but think that stuffy ideas like these mean that journalists who have just come into the field of reporting are being shot down before they have the chance to shine?

Life is for living, and in my opinion this is the height of living. Obviously everyone has different ideas about what they want out of their careers and life, but for me it's growing increasingly apparent that if I was actually situated in the country I would be able to see first hand accounts of the action. If more journalists had the opportunity to go out to the countries they were reporting on, I don't believe there would be any more debates on whether the quality of journalism had decreased.

On a different note, how interesting would this type of reporting be? Wherever I go travelling I crave the culture that's surrounding me. When I have the chance to go to Ghana this summer I'm hoping to become much more absorbed in the country than I have been previously on my travels. It's also the people you meet on the way, the dramatic contrast of their life to mine.
I'm getting flustered just thinking about it!!!

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Amy what do you reckon? xx

Monday, 7 April 2008

Put out the Flame

I never normally come over all political, so this is quite a new venture for me. When I started my degree the lecturers told us to "go get passionate about something". My friend and I used to turn to each other and shrug. Its not as though I don't have opinions about world issues, it is just that I've never had the urge to write my feelings on a placard and start stabbing it in the faces of politicians. That is until now.

I'm not sure whether it was the combination of being delayed in Bristol airport for 5hrs (when it probably would have been faster to swim home) but when I saw Gordon Brown on the television next to the Olympic torch, I had an overwhelming desire to hit him over the head with it. Oh how very big of you Mr. Brown that you did not hold the torch. That really makes all the difference to the Tibetans.

It's difficult to say whether the West would be reporting on Tibet differently if the Chinese didn't have such a large hold on who goes in and out of Tibet. The British government announced they didn't want to get involved with the 'political side' of the Olympic Games. The fact they spent one million on protecting the Olympic flame and violently tackled to the ground anyway who trying to extinguish the flame, has been ignored. I have a lot of admiration to those supporting Tibet and protesting against China. Perhaps if Tibet had oil then the conflict would become political for Britain.

On the Guardian website Gilady, NBS Sports, offered 'wise' words for Olympic athletes:

The important message is to tell our athletes that some people are trying to use them and to ride on their backs for solutions that the world has to find in other places like the United Nations.

Are the Tibetans really that manipulative? Have they not been trying to make the West or United Nations or whoever listen to them for the last few decades with no success? The Tibetans have been through years of torment and violence at the hands of the Chinese government, their homeland, their culture is being destroyed and they needed help. That is why it has come at this time, when all the worlds eyes are on Tibet, that is when they realised at last they have their chance to be heard. Not because they want to spoil our Olympic athletes moment to shine!

What has upset me the most is the way journalists have reported on the Tibet-China conflict. I do understand what they're seeing, but they are the journalists, they're the one who should be supporting justice. Lhasa is the main capital of Tibet, to go to Lhasa now you couldn't tell this. From spending a week traveling through Tibet and slowly seeing how the Chinese are moving in and destroying it I saw a completely different side of it all. To simply arrive in Lhasa and hope to see the same picture, journalists have failed miserably. In articles written on the conflict, the only ever sources they use are sources from the Chinese. Do they seriously expect the Chinese people to give a rational view of what's going on? They're terrified of saying anything against their government, and many are so brainwashed they would not even question the actions of state.

The Chinese are so afraid of loosing face against the West that they have done everything they can to contain the Tibetan threat. I'm not sure whether 'threat' is the correct term to use seeing as the Tibetans use peaceful protesting, unlike China who have slaughtered Tibetans in the past. They have blocked the BBC website, they have stopped access to Tibet, and they will continue to try and quarantine the problem until it's out of their control. I don't think they really need to worry about blocking english newspaper websites, they are generally on the Chinese side. Did they ask any of the Tibetan protesters why they tried to extinguish the flame? No. Instead they quote a Chinese student, Xiao Zhang, who said he had been attacked after he and his friends had chanted "liars" at pro-Tibetan campaigners. "They grabbed my flag, my Chinese flag, and put it on the ground. I don't know who hit me."

The West need to do something to help Tibet, the Chinese can not get away with destroying Tibetan culture and religion. The Dalai Lama isn't looking for complete independence in Tibet, they just want more autonomy and a right to continue they're practices without the Chinese controlling them.

Woooo...theres all my vent up anger out in the open!! It had to be said...

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx


Saturday, 5 April 2008

Perfect Proposal

Enjoyed a lie-in until 12 pm today. I can't say I was even that tired, it was just the fact I had the choice to stay in bed.

I survived last night's 'one missed call'. I'm not sure my friend was too impressed when he turned to see me cowering next to him with a pashmina over my face and my fingers in my ears. Technically I could still see what was happening, it's just the pashmina acted as my comfort blanket, and a sort of shield from what I was seeing. It's always quite exciting going to the cinema in the dead of night and then ending up back home at 2.30am. I almost felt this justified me wandering up the road and getting cheese and chips from the Woodville Chip Bar, but then I think I'll save that until the next time the alcohol takes control. The film was rubbish, I cracked jokes pretty much the whole was through in a weak attempt to make the whole experience less horrifying. What can I say, it must have worked, I went out like a light.

Friends is definitely an ideal antidote to hard days slog in the library. They're talking about perfect ways to propose...hmmm... that gets me thinking. I realise I'm no where near that stage yet, I need to concentrate firstly on getting a man and I can't say I particularly want one. But I don't think any girls can say they haven't thought about that moment when their man drops to their knee. I've got high hopes for my wedding proposal and I have to say that if the whole things a let down then in my eyes, the man probably will be in the end.

Never mind 'indecent proposal' more like 'perfect proposal'. I partly blame Sweet Home Alabama, and my trip to Tiffany's for my vision of the perfect proposal. The endless chic flicks I've watched with my friends, swooning over the perfect man and questioning why chivalry is so dead certainly haven't helped. I selected my engagement ring when I was 15, a sparkly, expensive, pink diamond courtesy of Tiffany's. The perfect location was found last year in China, a place called Lijiang which has gorgeous red lanterns hanging everywhere and streams where you can place wax flowers on whilst making a wish. I'm not sure how my future hopeful will find out about all my secret wishes, perhaps it might be a case of subtly planting my diary where he can see it, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it...

Random thought of the day but I'm in one of those moods!!

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Friday, 4 April 2008

They think it's all over...It is now...

Last day today, it's strange but I almost feel like I've been made redundant. I've enjoyed having the power of the notepad and my 'Temp' badge to go up to anybody in the street and start talking about whatever topic is considered H-ot. For now I have to be happy with dreaming about a job in the media, but I can say with complete sincerity that if anyone mentions the words 'hot' and 'topic' to me again they'll need to run pretty quickly to catch up with me.

This weeks also got me thinking about what I want to do after university. The big question which usually knocks me sideways is becoming steadily more bearable. Amy has also given me an idea to which I can entertain myself with, it involves taking one photo a day for a year. It's really interesting how much more you notice things when you're clutching a camera ready to take a shot. It also encourages creativity as everything you look at you look at in the way of, will it make a good photo? Perhaps this will get slightly tiring after a while as you're analysing things in a way that noone else is, but for the moment I'm really enjoying it. From looking at an overview of the week you can also see which week has been most entertaining, work-orientated or random.

One thing I have to admit though is...I am a hoarder...there, the first step is admitting it. However, I definitely won't reach the second step of throwing anything out. No one can make me, my Dad complains all the time about the state of the loft but say one thing about his shed and he sheepishly backs away. I don't understand the problem with cherishing keepsakes, such as theres the cinema ticket I kept from my first date with my ex-boyfriend. Granted we're no longer together, but whenever I look at it I remember the butterflies I had in my stomach (or maybe thats the slight nauseating feeling I have?). Then there's my clothes I had when I was 15, I'm convinced they'll come back into fashion. My mum's always saying how she's lived through all the fashions, mustard 60s style dress? Been there done that. But did she keep any of these items? No. If she had I probably would have emerged as a Vintage Queen by now, my daughter definitely won't have the same problem. Maybe when I no longer have my parent's house to store things in then I'll need to have a big clear out, but until that day comes it doesn't bare thinking about.

It's a short blog today, I'm preparing myself for the cinema. My friends managed to persuade me to see a horror film, he doesn't know what happened after I saw The Ring. Being scared would be an understatement, slowly turning insane through the lack of sleep and being convinced someone was going to climb through the television is another matter. He half joked I'd have a different experience as I was going with a 'big, strong man', all I can say is God be with him. Once he sees the state of me after he'll wish he had never asked me to go with him!

Under the next thought...

Hannah xx

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Name in Lights

So how does it feel to be a hot-of-the-press journalist? Amazing.
Ok so perhaps hot-of-the-press isn't the best way to describe a half a page spread, page 10, in the South Wales Echo, but as Armstrong said 'it's one small step for man, one giant leap for...' well me actually. And so what I rang/text as many people I knew to go out and buy it? I wanted to share my excitement with everyone, even the mustache-man at the newspaper stand who I'd met for about 5 mins. I appreciated his congratulations, even if he repulses me slightly.

There is something about the sun shining that makes everything seem brighter. You can stroll along, head held high...strutting, slightly. It's been one of those days where you're wearing an enormous grin on your face and you don't care if you look a tiny bit insane. I'm always a little conscious when I'm walking along that I look like I have the world on my shoulders. The main reason for this was when I was wondering along, feeling slightly sorry for myself because it was raining and my shoes were disintegrating, and a Big Issue seller shouted to me 'Cheer up love, it can't be all bad'. What do you say? I mean actually? Apart from putting things in perspective, in that moment I felt completely exposed. The question which hung over me the whole way home was, "Do I look like a miserable sod when I go solo?". A friendly smile is definitely the way forward, unless you're getting approached by the Phones4U man, then it's best to look at the floor.

I keep being faced with the question "So what do you want to go onto do after uni?". It's normally asked by people already stuck in job titles they hate who ask me this, oh and obviously my parents. Exempt my parents, I think people ask me because they somehow want to stamp on my student life. The lie ins, the endless partying, the no interest over draft, they feel the need to put a stop to the secret student world I live in by asking me the one question I dread the most. I stutter, I ummm, I ahhh and then finally "well, I'm not quite sure yet". My response? A raised eyebrow, a slight snarl and if everything was silent I think I'd hear a 'tut'. This isn't because they care what I'm going to do after uni, I doubt they'd loose sleep over the mountain of debt, or my lack of career direction. No. They want to justify to themselves that their life is somewhat better. It does, however, start a cold sweat for me. I begin panicking, and then instead of my usual time of the month chocolate ice-cream binge, I begin my 'work-experience binge'. This involves frantically applying to anything and everything which is out there in a hope to kick some direction into my life.

A product of my 'work-experience binge'? My name in lights (well print, but who's being picky?). Now thats better than adding 2 inches to the waist, which would have been a result of a Ben & Jerrys binge. So perhaps the anxiety of what I'll do with my life produces good results? It kick starts me into action as well as getting me smiling stupidly all day.

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Nearly 21

Hello, hi, how are you?
It feels strange being a 'blogger', almost like I'm entering the unknown. I've never been one to keep a diary, when I was younger my Mum used to set aside an hr an evening for me to write a diary entry:

'Today I went to school, I had my favorite marmite sandwiches for lunch. At lunchtime I had to play kiss chase again. I hate boys."

That was a day in the life of a 10 year old, my diary entries didn't really differ but it helped me get my thoughts down and learn how to express myself. I haven't managed to keep a dairy since then, apart from the odd travel journal. I'm embarrassed to say that my travel journals, which started off enthusiastically at first, didn't last more than a week each time.

I loved having one though, carrying it around with my like it was my own special project. All mine. When I first went traveling in India I begun writing down everything I saw, smelt, heard and tasted. The first thing which hit me in India was the smell, incense mixed with spices. The smell curled around the streets, up the twirling staircases, through the mosquito nets and into all the houses. I didn't know you could smell heat until I went to India. Its what's stayed with me as almost a trigger which is hard to explain. When I visited Nepal last summer, the first thing which hit me in the airport was the smell. Emotions flooded back to me, eager excitement, happiness, and anxiety hit me just as the heat in India.

It's things you think you'll never forget that you should write in a diary. It's what you write and how you write it that will allow you that small insight into the past. Without first hand experiences of certain historical events how would we know what really happened? What people really felt? My travel journal didn't last long, unless something really struck me and I had to write it down. I think the cocky side of me questioned "why write a once in a lifetime moment on paper, when it's written on you". Almost like a tattoo, but then unlike a tattoo memories fade.

So I stopped, probably more out of laziness than anything else. A small pang of jealousy crept over me every time I saw Emily (my friend in India) write in her journal. There's something therapeutic about flicking through pages and pages of your own writing. Photos took over instead, everything I wanted to remember, I'd take a photo. It helped with my memory, but I'm not sure whether it was the same. In Thailand I began an online journal, it was more a "Where's Wally" than "Secrets of a Call Girl". In Nepal, Tibet and China my travel journal lasted slightly longer, but again it grinded to a halt.

So this is my final venture, the Twinkling 'This is you life' Twenties . A written mission undertaken at perhaps the most emotional, difficult, craziest period of life. They say life begins at 30 but if I waited until then that would be a whole decade of good times and bad times forgotten. I also get the impression they only say that to the 'twenty-niners' afraid to jump into the next big one.

So, this is how it feels to be a 'blogger'? For a moment there I was nearly speechless.

Until the next thought,

Hannah xx