Hollywood Trips Into Diversity

Progress is finally being made in Hollywood!

Viola Davis won an Oscar for Supporting Actress in Fences, and thus became the first black woman to win a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar award for acting.

Moonlight star Mahershala Ali has become the first ever Muslim actor to win an Oscar!

And, after a particularly awkward mix-up that even trumps the epic fail for the Miss Universe pageant back in 2015, Moonlight won Best Picture (and Best Adapted Screenplay).

But let’s not focus on the blunder and consider what this means for non-white film-makers.

It’s 2017 and we’re still struggling with racism and racial inequality, and the EU referendum and the Presidential election have not helped with this. There have been people shouting at black and Asian people in the streets, telling them to “go back to your own country”, and it’s disgusting. And Hollywood has not exactly helped to deter this ridiculous idea that white people are supposedly more superior. And I’m not just talking about Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winners. I’m looking at the fact that there are still so many white leads, and the fact that – especially now – the only acting roles that Arab men seem to be able to get are the roles of terrorists, and black men in gangs, like there aren’t any white people who do things like that. It’s insane that non-white people are still portrayed as the bad guys in a lot of films, because by now we just know for a fact that that is certainly not the case.

So I was rooting for Moonlight at the Oscars, which is a beautiful film about a young black man struggling with his sexuality and finding his place in life. The fantastic thing about this film winning Best Picture is the fact that it finally shows a response from Hollywood to the lack of diversity in films in the past. There are so many different stories out there to be told, and finally something is being done to ensure that we as an audience get to hear them.

Source: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Of course, racial equality still has a long way to go, unfortunately, but this year is already a year to be celebrated for these milestones. Let’s hope that Hollywood and society continue to progress.

Well done to everyone at the Oscars!

Overworked and Underpaid: The Painful Truth About Being a Waitress

Before I got my current position as a quality inspector for an engineering firm, I was a waitress for a total of three years. I can safely say that it was the worst job I have ever had – and I’ve cleaned toilets for goodness’ sake!

During high school I never imagined I would ever be a waitress. I can be a bit clumsy on my feet, and I couldn’t see me managing to balance trays of glasses and meals on my forearms without dropping them. But I quickly learned that jobs are really hard to come by, and so when I finally got offered a job as waiting on staff, I didn’t hesitate in taking it.

When I started university – and thus at the hotel I’d been working at for the past two years – I started to really see how rubbish it can be in the world of hospitality. I know it’s not as bad waiting on in America, where you rely on tips to make a living, but because everything was prepaid for, I received no tips whatsoever. I was being paid below minimum wage, and asked to work pretty much every hour I possibly could; in order to pay my rent I needed to work 52 hours a month on top of my full time course at university. Not only that, but or every 4.5 hours we worked, 30 minutes’ wages would be deducted for breaks that we didn’t even have. Needless to say, what with the amount of work my course demanded from me, I was rather grateful for my student loan to fall back on.

As a waitress I have had to deal with a few really nice customers who I’ve been able to have a laugh with, and a helluva lot of really horrible customers I’ve wanted to punch in the face. Here are some of the types of customers I want to rob blind to compensate for the pain they’ve put me through serving them:

1. It would be funny how many people think that because you’re waiting tables you must be dumb and thus proceed to speak to you in a really patronising tone…if you weren’t so knackered from pulling all-nighters studying and completing your assignments towards your degree. I can’t wait for the day when I become a chartered engineer so I can wait for them to come back to the hotel and throw my CEng in their faces: “Remember your ‘idiot’ waitress back in 2013?”

2. If you have kids who don’t know how to behave at a function such as a wedding or whatever you’ve been invited to because you’ve just let them do whatever the hell they want, I really hate you. Do you know how hard it is to run around after customers with trays full of food when there are tiny children screaming and running around underfoot? And when they actually run into me while I’m trying to serve soup…*deep breaths*

And for the love of God, when I ask your kids to please leave the piano alone because it disrupts other guests, that is not an invitation for you to join them in bashing the piano keys (seriously, this has happened on too many occasions).

3. If you have preordered a particular course and decide that you don’t want that, you want a different one instead, that’s annoying but fine. If you decide that you want something else that is not on any of the menus because we don’t have that, that is not okay! One gentleman at a Christmas function decided he wanted chocolate cake instead of his crème brûlée, and regardless of the fact that three of us on different occasions told him that we didn’t have chocolate cake because it was not on the menus, and that we were running round like headless chickens, proceeded to argue with us for about half an hour. I avoided that man like the plague for the rest of the night.

4. When your food is taking too long, 99.9% of the time it is because of the chefs. Therefore your food isn’t going to turn up any quicker if you spend five or ten minutes having a go at me infront of 100, 200, 300+ customers because your food hasn’t arrived yet. I don’t care if you’re family of the bride, the host of your grandmother’s 90th birthday party, or even the lead singer of some band no one has ever heard of. I can’t snap my fingers and magically make the food ready – and even if I could, since you have been so rude as to try and humiliate me during such a big function, I wouldn’t. Just remember who’s serving your food…when the chefs finally cook it.

5. Snapping your fingers at me is rude and degrading. I’m not a dog or a naughty little child, so don’t treat me like one.

6. When I warn you that the plates are hot – and you can see that I am serving them with tea towels because they are goddamn hot – don’t grab it off me and then complain that it burned you.

And people think waitresses are dumb…

7. Don’t wolf-whistle, jeer, or hackle at me. I won’t hesitate in “accidentally” spilling something down your suit.

By my final year as a waitress I had more or less gotten to the point where I just didn’t give a damn. It’s a career that can really get you down because sometimes (most of the time) it is a thankless job where you’re only recognised for when you screw up. It can sometimes feel like you can do nothing right and that you are unappreciated, and I can’t express how happy I was to quit. Seriously, I was grinning from ear to ear as I handed in my badge and apron and clocked out that final time.

I know I will perhaps one day have to go back to waitressing, and that’s okay. I’m older and more experienced in that line of work now than back when I was 17, and I know I won’t stand for the nonsense I did from the staff again. Of course, I’ll have to deal with it all again from the customers, but if I can get a slightly better pay rate, tips, and basically don’t get screwed over, I will be much happier.

Until then though, screw waitressing. It sucks.

(Don’t) Cry Me a River

If you have a sob story, I probably don’t want to hear it.

Everyone has a sob story, and unfortunately we seem to have entered an era where we feel the need to spew our lives’ misfortunes to anyone and everyone we meet. Quite frankly, I hate it. I miss the days when you could work with someone for years and just about recall their first name, let alone details of psycho girlfriends and being kicked out college. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m your colleague, I am merely your colleague. I am not your friend, psychiatrist or agony aunt. Go talk to them about how rubbish your life is, not me.

I can’t really point at a date in which this new Let’s Get Everybody To Feel Sorry For Me mentality became the norm for society, but I know I blame two things for its existence: the X Factor (where if you didn’t have something dark and miserable in your life to whine about you wouldn’t be getting anywhere beyond bootcamp) and social media (where you only get likes and comments from people you don’t even really know if you post something really depressing or something to do with your achievements…and everyone seems to secretly hate achievement-related posts).

Risking sounding like even more of a heartless butthead than I already do, I only really care about my own sob story and that of my closest friends’. And it’s only my few closest friends who actually know my whole deep dark story of doom, and visa versa. Because I trust them and, obviously, they trust me. Hearing sob stories used to be a reward for being a loyal and unprejudiced friend, and it was touching to feel that someone felt comfortable enough to share with you such a personal period in their lives. Nowadays I feel bombarded with everyone’s dirty laundry – with regular updates too. Call me heartless, but telling me that you were bullied all through high school, or that your mother kicked you out when you were ten or whatever, is not going to make me like or care about you…although if your mum did kick you out that is pretty damn bad. But sob stories can’t get you a free ticket into my friends list or even my people-I-can-tolerate list. That’s the sort of thing I used to try when I was fourteen (X Factor inspired me), and I can safely say that offering the information that there was a 27% chance that I had rheumatoid arthritis and would be in a wheelchair in 5 years’ time did not earn me any real friends or sympathy. Just because I was going through some little flavour of hell doesn’t mean that everyone else could simply forget about their own problems – and their friends’ – to give a damn about the issues some weird girl they’d only spoken to once or twice was having. Like life back then couldn’t be stressful enough at that age!

I’m sorry, but they just get me down. If you consider how many people you may converse with in a day and then consider each and every one of them telling you something particularly dark or upsetting about their past or present, that’s calls for a pretty depressing day! And if you don’t really know that person, because they’re a work colleague or a friend of a friend or just a regular customer, do you really feel like the right person for this sort of talk? Do you really want to be? There are people who get paid a hell of a lot more than I do to listen to your problems; I can direct you to my first counsellor if you want someone who can give you all the sympathy you want.

I miss the days when our private lives were actually private, and we didn’t share them with the world. Surely we can get back to those days again, please?

Merry Christmas and stuff

Hello, one and all!

I guess I first just want to say that I’m sorry for not blogging at all lately. Life’s been a lot busier than I’ve expected it to be, not to mention I haven’t had a laptop for the past two months because it decided to die on me after 6 years of us being together. But Father Christmas (aka Mother and Grandmother) has provided me with a brand new laptop so I’m now once again connected to the Internet world – yippee!

So a lot’s new with me at the moment. I have a new job as an inspection engineer and polisher for a company who provide nuts, bolts and studs for Formula 1 cars, luxury cars, and the aviation sector, so I can finally call myself an engineer, which is great. And it’s going great; I love it. At the moment it’s rather basic (well obviously seeing as I only started at the beginning of the month!), but I’ve been told there is plenty of room for me to progress within the company, and they want me to come back during the holidays next year, and after I’ve graduated, so I’ve finally got my foot in the door.

Because of this job I’ve finally been able to hand in my apron and letter of resignation to the hotel I used to work for, and can safely say that I am no longer a waitress. I cannot tell you how good it feels to be able to say that!

Another thing that’s new with me is something I wasn’t exactly planning on happening. I have a boyfriend. It’s kind of ruined my plans to write a blog post about why I don’t do relationships, because hey, I’m in a relationship now! But I might still do that blog post so you can understand why I was always so adamant that I wasn’t going to join the dating scene.

As I say, I didn’t plan on getting into a relationship, but he’s liked me for a long time, and I was secretly attracted to him too, but I didn’t act upon it until about a month ago. And it’s rather terrifying because it’s probably the most emotionally invested I’ve been in a relationship. Usually I can be quite cold and distant in relationships, which is stupid, I know, but I can’t help it. But in this one I guess I’ve been a little more committed to it, which I find rather scary. I finally understand what people mean when they refer to the ‘honeymoon period’ a couple goes through when they first get together and sometimes I find myself insufferably corny. There’s a lot to get used to, but he’s happy taking baby steps with me so all’s good for now.

So that’s why the one-post-a-week thing hasn’t gone to plan as of late! It’s unfortunate that my writing has taken a back seat once again and been completely ignored, but hopefully once I get used to having a full-time job I will be able to get into a schedule and fit this blog into it. There are a few ideas I have that I would like to work on, so hopefully in the New Year, you’ll be hearing from me on a more regular basis. If I don’t take on too much overtime that is – I’m such a workaholic!

So this will be my last post for 2014. This year has been a series of ups and downs, and tears and bouts of depression. But I can safely say that I have ended the year on a high and that I’m in a decent place ready for 2015.

I just want to thank you all for your patience with me, and I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas. In the meantime, keep smiling and I will see you all in 2015, hopefully with more regular blog posts!

Take care, all of you.

Claire

Improving one’s self

So since I have taken a year out of university, I am working on improving myself in whatever way I can so that when I go back for my third and final year I’ll be in the best shape I can be physically and mentally.

As you all know I suffer from anxiety and depression, and everyone knows that the best cure for these is a combination of healthy eating and exercise. And I’m going all out: I’ve swapped most coffees for peppermint and nettle tea, I’m eating more fruit and veg, and I’m lucky enough to have a fitness freak for a housemate so I’ve started going running with him.

In fact I went running with him today along with my other housemate, and WOOOOO, those endorphins were rushing through my bloodstream like crazy antelope. An hour after finishing our run, I was asked if I’d taken drugs, because I was hiiiiiigh.

On endorphins. Just to clarify.

I’m also working on improving my brain, because it’s never too late to do that. So I’ve signed up for Lumosity where you can give different areas of your brain a workout online, and bought a Brain Boosting book by Parragon for tips on how I can study and use my brain more efficiently. I have a long way to go – at least 144 pages – but I’m going to get there.

I’m trying to write more as well, but unfortunately my laptop has decided that now is a good time to die, and so the few blog posts I had lined up I no longer have access to, and if I need a computer I have to go to the university library. I guess that bit works out better though – it gets me out of the house and I’m more likely to study if I have to go to the library all the time.

I had a job interview last week with a motorsport company for the role of a trainee thread rolling engineer (believe it or not, cutting threads is a highly skilled job), and the company were really impressed by me and invited me to have a trial day which I took to like a duck to water. However, since I’d be going back to university next year and they’re looking for someone permanent, they’re a bit unsure about hiring me. I really want this job; it’s perfect for me and I’ve told them that I’d be able to do evenings and weekends when I go back to uni and I’d be happy to go back once I’ve graduated, so it’s just a matter of waiting to see how my opponent for the role does in his trial, and hopefully getting a phone call saying I have the job. I’m trying to stay positive.

I believe it’s important to always try to improve oneself, not in appearance but in self-worth and ability. Whether that’s by reading a book every day or learning a new language or facing a fear, every little bit helps to result in a better you, and that’s a goal we should all strive to meet.

Are you trying to improve yourself? If so, how?

Keep smiling!

Claire

The Evolution of the Coffee

I miss the good ol’ days when a coffee was a coffee, and the only question faced with ordering one was, “Black or white?”

During the summer my mum and I went to our favourite little café in Blackpool and I ordered a coffee. Or at least I tried to.
“What kind of coffee?” I was asked.
“What?” I asked dumbly.
“What kind of coffee would you like?” the lady repeated. “Would you like an Americano, a Latte, a Cappuccino, an Espresso…?”
Quite frankly, I felt like a deer in headlights. Where the hell did all this come from? I knew that the ‘posh’ coffee shops were like this – and thus steered clear of them – but this was just a café; place to eat and a place to not have to deal with what seemed like a seriously complex way to get a caffeine fix.
This process was repeated several times at several different cafés, and I approached it either one of two ways. Option 1: freak out like I did that first occasion. Option 2: get someone else to order for me…only for them to come back and ask me what kind of goddamn coffee I wanted.
“I just want a normal coffee!” I would end up exclaiming. “It has ground coffee beans, and it has hot water and milk in it. And it’s strong and it wakes me up!”
“Oh, so you want an Americano,” was the response. Since when did my simple coffee identify as an American?
Anyway, the situation got me thinking about life as a whole, and the following question came to mind:

Is there such thing as too much choice?

I’m not talking about coffee or anything trivial like that now (although those kinds of decisions are still stressful as hell!). I’m talking about life paths. When I was in high school there were so many opportunities that I wanted to grab, so many paths I wanted to go down, and the number has just continued to increase as I have progressed in life. I want to be an engineer…yet I also want to be a writer…and help with different charities…and own a farm…the list goes on. And these paths then branch out into more paths, and more, and MORE! It’s never ending!

Think back to when you were at high school and you had to consider what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. Once you’ve figured that out, you have to then decide upon the several ways you can get to that point in life. Now if you want to be a vet or a doctor or something, this is an easy choice: you have to go to university. But then you have to choose what university, whether you want this course or that, whether you’re going to do a year in industry or a year abroad, or a Masters or a PhD.

And then there are other options for other careers like apprenticeships and traineeships and the list of opportunities just keep growing and growing and growing. It’s enough of a pain in the arse deciding what you want for tea, let alone making all these choices that are actually going to affect the rest of your life. And studieseven show that too much choice can lead to riskier – and often bad – decisions.

I get really stressed out about choosing stuff, as are a lot of my friends. This leads to really frustrating conversations that all go the same…and all last for what seems an eternity:

“You choose.”

“I don’t mind. You choose.”

“I don’t mind either. Just choose one.”

“No, you choose.”

“No, you choose!”

Then again, maybe there isn’t enough choice either.

Taking my earlier example of what a person may want to do for a career, maybe there needs to be more choice because not everyone is the same, and thus not everyone suits the same path. University isn’t right for me since I am a more kinaesthetic learner, so I learn better by applying knowledge to a situation where I’m actually doing something, not by sitting in a lecture theatre trying to soak up the notes and what the lecturer is saying. An apprenticeship would’ve been better for me, but if you don’t get an apprenticeship, all that’s left is university, right? Which is then a series of visuals and audios.

And then there are those who just aren’t right for the typical education system, yet what else is there? Home schooling is a choice, but this isn’t the right choice for families with low income or two working parents, so what then?

It’s an interesting paradox to consider. What do you guys think? Is there too much choice in the world? Is there too little? Share your thoughts.

In the meantime I think I might go order a green tea instead. There’s only one kind of green tea that this café can offer me, surely!

Lest we forget

My friend Ken put together a couple of beautiful pictures in time for Remembrance Sunday today. Let us remember those who fought for their countries and the many people and animals who died at the hands of war.

Without them, the sun would’ve set, never again to rise for another tomorrow.

Photo credits: @Aviationprints.
Check out his beautiful photography and digital art on photo4me.com/ken

 

Look what the cat threw up!

Ladies and gentlemen! I have returned!

After all this time I’ve finally come round to writing again. Unfortunately I’ve been suppressed in a cage of depression, and only now have I had the strength to stand up and start moving again (albeit very wobbly steps!). My apologies to you all.

And so my blog will once again become active. But what’s in store for you?

I have a few ideas at the moment for blog posts, including my Halloween costume, my opinions on feminism, and which anime I choose between Code Geass and Death Note. Of course, there will also be some stories. However I will also be wanting some requests from you guys. Give me writing prompts or subjects you want my opinions on, and hopefully I will be back on my fingertips in no time.

I’ve also been doing a bit of art as of late, which I have thoroughly missed doing. Again, if you have anything you want me to try and draw, feel free to let me know and I’ll see what I can do. I’m currently working on drawing a platypus, which is driving me insane!

Plants and insects in the style of Salvador Dali

Eye see you!

“Anime bullshit” as one housemate describes it

I’m hoping that this time I will be able to keep this blog up to date and just stay motivated and productive. So watch this space, and bear with me.

In the meantime, keep smiling!

Claire

Black and Blue

The door slams.

You open your eyes.


Your trembling hands are covered in blood.


Looking in the mirror: a huge gash above your left brow.


You ease into the shower.


The water burns.


Your ribs are black and blue.


You relive the hitting.


The spitting.


The name calling.


You cry.


Pause.


Deep breath.


You get dressed.


You dry your hair.


You pick up the phone.


Dial:


“999, what’s your emergency?”


“Police, please. My wife attacked me.”




How many of you first thought that this was a woman being assaulted?

A lot of us forget that men can also be victims of domestic abuse; in fact 40% of domestic violence victims in the UK are men.

Male domestic violence charity ManKind posted a new #ViolenceIsViolence campaign video on YouTube which has over 4.5million views since being uploaded last week. We all need to remember that violence works both ways: if a man cannot hit a woman, a woman should not be allowed to hit a man.

I have now ManKind‘s membership, donating £20 every year at the very least. If you can give any sort of donation or publicity to this charity, I would be eternally grateful to you.

#ViolenceIsViolence

Struggling doesn’t make you a failure

I’m suspending my course at uni, and instead I will be sitting my second year exams this time next year. I guess you can say I’m having a gap year.

The reason for this is because I’ve been feeling less and less like me and more like some stranger I don’t even want to get to know. I miss the old Claire who was always so bubbly and motivated, and I’m going to spend the next 12 months getting her back. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I know it’s the right thing for me right now. I just need the time to find me and fall back in love in Engineering again, because lately I’ve been in a dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel.


Ever since I got my first C back in A levels (it was a huge shock to me since I’m usually a straight A student), I’ve been going down a deep, dark hole which I’m finding impossible to get out of. I’ve always had really bad anxiety when it comes to exams, but it’s only gotten worse, and my friends and family – and members of staff I’ve spoken to at university – all agree that I am not well enough to sit these exams.


I’ve thought about this long and hard for over two months. I’ve not been enjoying uni at all; in fact I’ve hated it since the middle of first year. What was stopping me from deciding this earlier was the daft idea that quitting uni or suspending my studies would mean I would fail in life – and the one thing I fear more than anything else in life is failure.


It’s something that is implied at school from a very young age: if you don’t go to university and get a degree, you will never get anywhere in life. And it infuriates me that we are made to feel like that, because university isn’t for everyone. Some people learn better doing a vocational course which is more practical, and some are better at doing an apprenticeship or internship. Some people don’t even know what they want to do with their lives yet, so what’s the point in spending £9000 a year on just some random course just for the sake of making the education system happy that they have another number to add to their statistics?


Schools need to start teaching pupils that taking a year out to have a break from education or to figure out what they actually want to do in life is okay, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to fail in life. I wish I’d taken a year out before going to university just so I could take a breather and get myself back on track because I was a mess during A levels. I was starting to doubt myself a lot, and I could’ve done with 12 months’ break then as opposed to now.


Then again, I can look upon this situation in a different light and say: If I had taken a year out then, I probably wouldn’t be friends with the amazing people I know today. I probably wouldn’t have a job at the hotel I wait on at, and thus I would never have gotten an internship at Vulcan To The Sky Trust, which I absolutely love doing.


I guess this was the path that I had to stumble upon, but I want my generation and future generations to learn that it’s okay to take a break. You’ve been in some form of education from the age of four or five. That’s a heck of a long time of deadlines and cramming for exams, and some of us forget that life is supposed to be fun. A lot of people don’t need to take a year out and graduate from university at 21 or 22 and perhaps even go on to do a PhD or whatever, and I say good for them. But it’s not the path that everyone is suited for, and that needs to be understood by us, and by the schools that try to force us to go to university.


I can tell you that I will get my degree…just not next year as we had planned. But I’m okay with that, because it’s right for me.