Since I last wrote I…

 

  • Tried to exercise more.
  • Made a pact to travel more and…
  • …booked a trip to Amsterdam!
  • ….and am planning a trip to Prague (fingers crossed!)
  • Saw two old university friends
  • Contemplated my life thus far. No comment.
  • Read The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker – amazing!
  • Watched all seasons of American Horror Story on Netflix. Freak Show is my favourite.
  • Missed New York like nothing else. Take me back.
  • Finished a pack of Almond M&Ms. Why are they not available in the UK??
  • Worried about my weight.
  • Bought a new shirt with cats on and some dinosaur earrings. Why am I still single?
  • Downloaded spotify. Lifechanger.
  • Still have not downloaded dating app (why is it so hard to meet someone in real life?!)
  • Went on a university open day with my sister (so weird! I want to do undergrad again!)
  • Voted in the general election. Sigh.
  • Tried to get back into poetry and blogging
  • ….And continued plodding on the path of life. What about you?

The City with the Same Name Twice (New York Travel Tips)

 

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At the end of April I flew out to New York, this was a big deal for me having developed a fear of planes and the fact I cannot get off them. New York is like a postcard of different films, I feel like I relate every bit I have seen to part of a film: the pond in Stewart Little, Grand Central from Madagascar, Midtown from Ghostbusters, Friends, Sex and the City, Night at the Museum… it is incredible how much you recognise.

Day 1: The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and some serious drizzle.

I wake up at 5 after not sleeping at all. By 7, when my friend is awake, we head out for breakfast and a meander down to Battery Park – which is a very long way. I tend to prefer walking when on holiday as it is easier to see things, but in hindsight, New York is little big to do this all the time.

It is miserable weather, which makes for dramatic pictures of the view and windy pictures of us, but we board the boat to the Statue of Liberty (we had pre-booked) and braved the weather. It was fascinating, but the real gem of the trip was the Ellis Island Museum. If you are not interested in going to Ellis Island, get that free Staten Island ferry which has a pretty good view of the statue.

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The Ellis Island museum is incredible, with such a rich history. Someone told me that you could feel the ghosts in that place, and I kind of agree – those walls have seen so much and the building is astonishing. I wish we had done the hard hat tour of the hospital wing, but we didn’t know it was available at the time.

We spend most of the day here before heading back out to the city and doing some more sightseeing. We go and see the Stock Exchange and aim towards the 9/11 memorial. We also stumble across the Federal Hall which is an unexpected gem – a small free museum about George Washington’s inauguration. Definitely worth a look if you are near Wall Street.

On our way to go and see the 9/11 memorial, it is raining so hard we can’t even get close. Before choosing to get the Subway back we dive into Century 21 and hide in the Westfield outside the Trade Center. We didn’t manage to see the memorial, unfortunately, so hopefully, we can go back another time. After a soggy subway ride and a quick traipse through Grand Central (gorgeous!), we have a rapid dinner at the first place we can find and head back to the hotel.

Day 2: Central Park and the Natural History Museum.

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After once again waking at 5 and waiting for my friend to wake up herself, we have breakfast at The Comfort Diner, which is a diner in midtown just off Lexington Ave. It’s pretty good value for money and was the first of many indulgent breakfasts in New York. We meander for the first part of the day, checking out Times Square and buying broadway tickets before heading uptown to Central Park and the Natural History Museum.

Central Park is stunning – massive! New York such an incredible example of city planning which you just don’t get in Europe; most cities in Europe have just expanded as necessity demanded and this is why most tourist spots are pretty close together. In America, things have been planned, space has been allocated, this park was designed – it is both baffling and awe-inspiring. Central Park has so many facets and we barely did half of it – there were parts where it felt like I was in a forest! I would love to go back on a nice day and just walk the whole thing.

I wish we had more time in the Natural History Museum – two hours was not enough. The planetarium is well worth it though, even if only to enjoy sitting down for a few moments. We saw the dinosaurs and had a quick zip around the other floors on our way to the exit. We also recognised some famous galleries from Night at the Museum, including the maoi statue in the Margaret Mead hall of Pacific Peoples which was so surrounded by tourists we didn’t manage to get close. That whole gallery, however, was fascinating.

We ended the day by seeing Amelie on Broadway at the Walter Kerr theatre after dinner at a Mexican Restaurant a few streets east of Broadway (I can’t remember the name unfortunately – it was really nice though and pretty good value). It was lovely and the rush tickets (only $40 each) were really good seats – we were right at the front but because the stage design was minimal I could see everything easily. It was very twee (not that I am massively surprised) and the songs were ok, but it was good fun and I enjoyed the experience.

Day 3: More Central Park, The Met, Chelsea and the High Line

As it is still raining we went to the Met, which is bigger than any museum I have ever been too – we barely did a quarter of it before we were exhausted and had to leave, I am desperate to go back and see more.

We walk across Central Park again and head behind the Natural History Museum by a few blocks to discover the best bagels ever at Bagels & Co, followed by insane ice cream and visiting Knitty City  – my friend is a big knitter; I am both bemused and charmed by this lovely shop.

We then get the subway to Chelsea, having learned our lesson on Monday. Chelsea is beautiful; we walk on the High Line then pop into Chelsea market (which is much smaller than I expected) before going to see the Friends building and Carrie’s stoop (it was too close not to go!). This is by far my favourite area of New York, if and when I go back I would like to stay down in the Chelsea/Greenwich village area or a few blocks back on the West Side of Central Park – might need a bigger budget for that though!

We aim back towards midtown, stopping to sit in a park in Greenwich village for a few moments before heading north to Union Square. By pure accident we have dinner at an NYU student bar – it is pretty rowdy for 7pm on a Thursday night! Students will be students I suppose…. And so endeth the third day.

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Day 4: Finally some sun, the Empire State, shopping and home

Our final day dawns and we can finally head up the Empire State now that the weather is less rubbish. Tip: get there before 11, we got there about 10 and there were plenty of people but the line never stopped moving. When we left about an hour later the line was around the block! It is a cool experience; obviously, if you go up the Rockefeller you can see the Empire State in the skyline but I am quite glad we did the full NY experience with the Empire State – apparently, there was originally going to be a dirigible mooring post! And it was built in less than a year – insane! The view is pretty good, but I’m not sure it is worth going all the way to the top as you get two viewing points anyway and there isn’t a lot of difference in them.

We then do some mooching and shopping. Macy’s is my favourite store so far,  I hit up Sephora with a serious budget (America is expensive! And I kept forgetting to add the tax on in my mind…). We went into Saks and touched absolutely nothing, and we had a look round Tiffany’s – the people in there were very nice and very tolerant of us having a look around despite the fact we could obviously afford nothing. It indulged my desire to have a Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment anyway.

After having dragged my poor friend around New York the night before in search of Dough Doughnuts (only to find it closed) we eventually manage to locate a different Dough in a small food market next to Grand Central – honestly, they’re just giant doughnuts, not that amazing but perhaps I was too tired to appreciate it. This area of Grand Central was amazing though, it had such fantastic vibe (it reminded me a little of Boxpark in Shoreditch) and the food was quick, cheap and hot (all sorely needed) it was simply a great place to people watch. We grabbed a bite to eat here on the way back to Penn too.

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So that was New York, it was such a good trip and I highly recommend going if you haven’t been. I can’t wait to go back and I can’t wait to travel somewhere new – my next goal is to travel somewhere alone. I’m thinking a weekend break in Europe – perhaps Amsterdam? Does anyone have any suggestions or tips for travelling alone for the first time?

23 things I have learned in 23 years

 

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I saw ThePearlylife do this for her 20th birthday, and I thought it was not only a fantastic idea but that she appeared very wise…. I’m not sure how wise I appear at 23, heaven knows there is still a long way to go but these are a few of the things I have learned in 23 years on earth:

  1. You have a personal responsibility to yourself, to making yourself happy and taking care of yourself. People won’t do it for you.
  2. Anger isn’t necessarily bad, but it should be deployed correctly.
  3. Being friendly isn’t always easy, but it is usually worth it.
  4. Bravery is a rare, but necessary trait.
  5. Bravery comes in different forms.
  6. Being alone is easy, opening yourself to others is what is difficult.
  7. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – in other words, always ask.
  8. Everyone is insecure, but it will always feel isolating. Try to remember that is isn’t.
  9. Exercise is worth it when you find the right type for you.
  10. Make up for ‘glasses wearers’ is bullsh*t. Wear makeup. Wear glasses. End of.
  11. You can’t please everyone.
  12. Don’t compare yourself to others, it’s poison.
  13. Blaming others is easy, if not always right.
  14. Decisions stack – one does not override another and you shouldn’t glorify the other decision because you will always wonder about the other choice.
  15. Cynicism is funny. Sorry, but it is. Although, I do concede to needing a bit of positivity every now and again….
  16. Your clothes represent who you are, don’t wear something you don’t like to prove something.
  17. Try your hardest at everything, so if nothing else you can always look back and say that you gave it your all.
  18. Don’t give up, even if it is tempting, and if you think giving up is proving something, it really isn’t.
  19. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do.
  20. Be nice to yourself. You’re the only thing you will ever always have.
  21. Having friendly colleagues is what will make or break a job
  22. Listening to your gut is really difficult, but if you can hear it over the sound of your brain whirring away – try and trust it.
  23. Things will be ok in the end.

I am determined to make 23 the best year yet – there’s a pledge for you – I want to do my best to find out more about myself and to be a little braver; conquer some fears. Let’s see what the year ahead brings and I can bring a little extra wisdom to the table this time next year.

 

 

Post referred to: https://thepearlylife.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/20-things-ive-learnt-in-20-years/

Putting a spring in your step

Things I add into my routine to feel a little more springy…

Makeup. Lighter brighter eyes and lips. Coral, my fairweather friend, who often brightens but equally as often makes me look my mother makes a tentative reappearance around spring until I decide whether or not I can pull it off.

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Nails. Similar to eyes and lips, pales, pastels and brights emerge. Standard stuff.

Skincare. It is during these transitional periods that my skin starts to act up. At the moment I am really liking the new(ish) L’Oreal Clay masks. I have the purifier, which looks like a ‘green face and rollers’ stock photo when you put it on. My skin felt pretty good and fresh after using it, not too dry which is fantastic from a clay mask. You can tell it is working as you can literally see stuff coming out of your pores….it was strangely satisfying…

Lent. Chocolate. Cake. Biscuits – spring cleaning my body (as it were). Although, I am already finding bad things to replace the bad things I’ve given up. Doesn’t the mind marvel?!

A spring clean. This weekend I spent Saturday emptying out my closet and trying to decide what to keep and what to give away. I was interrupted half way through and now live in piles of old clothes, but we are getting somewhere!

Spring jackets. Leather jackets remain a staple but I like slightly softer colours for day time. My beloved white H&M jacket, now complete with black marks all down the back, remains a favourite (similar here) and my blue jacket, also H&M is a wardrobe staple alongside my green shirt jacket (similar here) and my grey waterfall jacket. I just love jackets, ok?

Floral tops. Obviously this is a massive trend right now, and I’m really impressed by the Marks and Spencer collection. I bought this top in the 20% off event the other week and I think it captures the trend perfectly.

Ruffles. Whilst this is another trend, this is one I feel can be quite difficult to pull off.Ii found the most beautiful top in Topshop last week combining both florals and ruffles – i’ve worn it twice already. I looove it.

These are all trivial things that I love, but how does your mood improve in spring? I love the extra light! What do you add into your routine to put that spring in your step?

Personal challenges

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to challenge myself to at least one thing every month.Whilst I was slow getting started in January, February has been better and my life is slowly getting busier again with work, with my social life and with my own desire to improve myself. So in order to keep myself accountable and to keep track of how I am doing, here are the challenges I have done in the past month and a half.

 

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Spoiler!

 


Challenge 1: Drive and park on my own. 

I am new to driving, having only just passed in November after years of struggling. Driving on my own has been a very different experience and it has taken me a while to get used to it. It might sound like a silly one, but I was pretty proud of myself for taking ownership and getting myself somewhere and back.

Challenge 2: Join a new exercise class.

Aerial Yoga! It’s so much fun! My resolution was to go to a new exercise class since I know I always enjoy it, and when I saw this class I couldn’t resist having a go. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, it is so liberating the hang upside down and to know I have the strength to do a flip – it’s great for the core too. Love it!

Challenge 3: Book a trip abroad. 

This was a tricky one, and I know here will be people out there who think I am mad for being so scared about this. The fact of the matter is that I hate things which are beyond my control, and change, even if only a change of place for a week or so, is always a little out of your control. That’s probably why it is so important you do it.

So, I finally plucked up the courage to book a trip to New York. I am very excited about it, but also a little nervous: it’s a long way! I am going with a friend this time, but my next challenge would be to take a trip alone before the year is out; I think if I can get over my worry of it I would really enjoy it. For now, this adventure is big enough!

If any of you have any suggestions on what to do/where to eat in New York please leave me a comment – I would love extra suggestions and would love to know I have some support in this. (Sidenote: if anyone who reads this likes makeup I have a list a mile long for Sephora and the US drugstores so suggestions in this area welcome also. We have booked a checked bag for the flight home…)

So those are my achievements in the past month, I have many more challenges to work on but I don’t want to put them out there until I have done them. It feels a little like I would jinx them. Let me know what you thought of this post – if it was silly or interesting, or if you have any personal challenges you are working on.

2016 Favourites

This is coming out far later than I intended it too, but I think it is nice to look back on the positives of 2016, whether physical or memories. So, if only for my own references, I give you my 2016 favourites (posted halfway through Jan).


Memories:

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Graduation. I finished my degree and graduated with a good grade. I feel both proud and a little bereft at being spat out into the world, but I did it!

My sister’s prom. Alongside my graduation my sister had her prom which was quite a symbolic moment for her growth and I was proud to see her go to it.

A general sense of personal peace, January – June was the most comfortable I have felt with myself, my intelligence and my personality.

I passed my driving test! Enough Said.

I won a special commendation in a Poetry Competition, which really boosted my confidence for writing poetry.

Trip to Haworth – a pilgrimage I have wanted to make forever.I’m such a nerd.

Unfavourites: Brexit and Donald Trump. Well, we’ll be facing the reality of both this year.

Makeup

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Zoeva En Taupe Palette. This may be the only makeup review I have ever done and, considering how guilty I felt buying it, it has been a surprising favourite. I use it nearly every day.

Laura Geller French Vanilla Baked Highlighter. I don’t like very intense highlights and this one is lovely and subtle. New, but a definite favourite.

L’Oreal Cushion Foundation. I love this so much more than I thought I would. So brilliant for early mornings where you can just slap it on your face and run out to catch your train.

Nyx Butter Gloss in Angel Food Cake. You can tell this is the year Nyx came to the UK, right?

Skincare

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Clarins Peach Comfort Toner. I got a sample of this earlier in the year, and whilst I don’t know if I could justify the cost of it personally it is so lovely – so hydrating.

Origins Out of Trouble 10-minute mask. Really saves my skin and heals rather than dries.

Pixi Glow Tonic. I put off buying this for so long but it is incredible. Worth it!

Lush Fresh Farmacy facial soap. Lovely, simple, re-purchased.

Television

Victoria. Hands down best TV of 2016. See my review here. (Side note: It’s a tiny bit awesome that I have blog posts that I can actually reference in this post. Cool.)

Film (This is where you realise I have not had the disposable income to go to the cinema in a while…)

Labyrinth. Never seen it before and poignant memento to Bowie. Funny and heartwarming, if cliche – I really enjoyed it. Review here.

Halloween. One of the last films I wrote about for my degree. Got a First. Not the only reason I love it but it’s a big one. A cult classic – don’t bother with the sequels though.

I’m sure there are more but I can’t think of any. Another possible resolution for this year is to go to the cinema more….

Books

Poetry was big for me this year but I don’t feel like I can name any off the top of my head. This was also the year I got back into reading, but I can’t remember what started me off. I am a big fan of Gail Carriger and Catherine M Valente though, and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Reminded me of my love for the Gothic. This was a stand-out book from this year.

Misc.

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The Tiger Balm Neck and Shoulder rub. AMAZING. I get such bad neck pain, I actually don’t know how I would live without it anymore.

Forever21 £2.50 Crop tops. £2.50! Enough said!


This has left me feeling a little more positive than my previous new year post, even if much of it has been a recount of the material elements of my life – they shouldn’t be discounted, I think. So, what is in store for me next? I did Aerial Yoga today (so good!) and I am keen to keep trying and keep improving (Yay! Much better than the last attempt!)

Obligatory New Year Post

 

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A few New Year’s ago…I had no newer pictures!

New Year felt flat to me this year. I was invited to a party but decided to stay in and am now battling with the guilt of not going out, even though it felt right for me to be at home when I made the decision. I feel a little funny today, I guess. I put off making New Year’s Resolutions because ‘I had ages’ and then suddenly I didn’t. I feel a little disconnected, I don’t feel motivated to start planning or doing anything, I kind of feel a little meh.

My Resolution last year was to challenge myself once a month, which worked really well and I ticked a lot of things off my ‘challenge’ list so I thought I’d do it again this year, but I don’t feel inspired so far. Last year I kicked off with going to ballroom dancing lessons. I wonder if I would be better to remove the time stipulation and just aim to work through my list of challenges as and when. The time panics me a little now. I don’t know how to start.

Aside from that, a resolution that I do feel connected to (though is significantly more wishy washy) is to find some balance. That means so many things: confidence, peace, spontaneity, joy, to push myself and pace myself. It’s so broad but I would like to be a bit happier this year and find this balance I seem to crave: between good and bad, fast and slow. I get so stressed about things and so worried that I feel like I am just going faster and faster until I can’t help but stop.

I was quite sad to leave 2016, it was a good year, I achieved a lot of things I wanted to, to the point where it makes me intimidated to step forward into the new year. I passed my driving test, finished my degree, started a blog, got a commendation in a poetry competition, took a creative writing course… these are things I never thought I would do, but I’ve done them. Now I have to move on to the even bigger impossible things for me.

This will also be the first year I won’t have anything to catch me. I’ve finished my degree. Anything I do know is entirely my choice. I guess I should feel liberated.

So, Happy New Year. I’ve spent it in my pyjamas, clinging on the last day before I have to go back to work, and worrying about what I should resolve myself to do. Start as you mean to go on, eh? Hope you all had a good night and I hope the spirit of New Year will catch up with us all as we move forward.

Nanowrimo – The end

So Nanowrimo ended last week, and as it was my first attempt at it I thought I would share a few thoughts.

 

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Firstly, it is very difficult to motivate yourself when you don’t like your novel and there is a culture in Nano that ‘any words are good words’ – after all, it is all about word count. I think, to make this work practically, you need to be flexible. For me, this meant writing ANYTHING – something which I only figured out later in the month. Once I let myself abandon the original novel (which clearly needs rethinking and/or scrapping) I felt happier about the whole process. So, my tip – find flexibility within the process and create your own goals – mine was to write everyday, which I did. I’ll aim bigger next year.

Secondly, Nano can take over your life if you are attempting to actually win. If you are not aiming to win and have other things to do it is really difficult to make the time, or indeed, the word count, so you need to judge it by how much time you are willing/able to make. Next year, I would aim to prepare more in advance.

Thirdly, writing buddies can be a little like a ‘fair weather’ friend. I admit, I was a fair weather writing buddy, I think I only spoke to him once – before we started.  I was part of a facebook group which was incredibly supportive; I don’t use facebook very often but when I did go on there it was a really lovely community. So writing buddies are important – stay in contact.

Hopefully now Nano is over I can get back to focussing on my blog. I found it difficult to balance doing Nano along with everything else and as a result, I seem to have ground to a halt so far in December – which is frustrating and I’m trying to get myself back on the waggon again. I think, in future I need to pace myself, not only with Nano, but with everything – I bundled a load of things into November that I barely had time for and, weirdly, I managed to balance them last month but so far have done nothing this month which I am finding annoying. But all in all, Nano was a good experience and next year I will be more prepared.

Nanowrimo – Week One

It’s been really difficult, not going to lie. Especially combined with starting a new job and what seems to have been an epic drop in my self-esteem: I’m tired, I’m lonely, I picked up enough hobbies to fill a 40 hour week and I now have about 12 to do all these in. It has been more of a challenge than I could ever imagine.

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To begin with, I got caught up in the desire to write 2,000 words a day to get ahead of the curve. I was determined to win.Then I begin to hate my novel, to hate writing. But I am the sort of person who refuses to start over, I’ve made my bed, now its time to lie in it: I have to get to the end of this month.

I was so stressed about it, that I didn’t want to do it, and that is not why I started Nano. I started to get me back into a place where I did enjoy writing. On Tuesday I wrote, 2,000 words, on Friday I wrote 300. I beat myself up about it.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that if I was writing everyday, I was already winning. At a turning point yesterday, I wrote 1600 words  -and enjoyed it. So, in my first week of Nano I have learnt that I need to enjoy what I am writing and allow myself to be organic. It isn’t about winning, not this year anyway, it is about getting started and creating a habit.

Also, I have found myself attached to a couple of Writing Buddy Groups on Facebook, and as much as I loathe Facebook on the whole, they are so encouraging. It isn’t a competition, it is a personal challenge: I think we need to be reminded of that sometimes. If you don’t win, try again next time it isn’t the end of the world. And, there is nothing to stop you carrying on after Nano ends. So, that is how I am now approaching Nano: with an open heart and a realisation that I have just encountered a very busy month. I’m going to be forgiving.

Good luck with week 2 everyone!

Who I am and Why I’m here

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Hi, I’m Jess.

As a challenge to myself last new year I said I wanted to write a blog, once a week for one year – and I’m halfway there!

At the time, I had no major plans over what the content should be – I tried beauty blogging (not for me), I tried blogging about my life (very boring). At the moment I seem to be forming some compromise between all of my interests, and, after writing some articles for my student newspaper, I discovered that I like to write reviews and opinion pieces, and I like to write them on anything that strikes my fancy.

So right now, I’m just blogging about things that interest me. My background is in Film studies, so I write a lot about films, but I’m interested in video games, literature, heritage and culture, yoga, and, occasionally, makeup. Welcome to my smorgasbord. Grab a bite of everything while you’re here.

Going forward, I hope to make my blog something that people actually read and comment on (big goals, man), hopefully to make some friends and, ultimately, to find my voice some more.

What are your goals with blogging? What made you start?