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

Poem: Days of Laughter

I remember those days of laughter
And I wonder if they were real
I remember how I admired you
And the sadness I now feel.

For now you’re in the winter
There are layers of lead between
The blizzard has only just begun…
The end is nowhere to be seen.

A pair of silver tongues entwined;
Eyes have added details.
Crayon scribbles upon oil paintings;
A friendship built now fails.

I reach for those days of laughter
Only to touch a cold hard wall
I wonder what I did so wrong
I wonder if you knew me at all.

Eastsiders Season 2!!!

Remember last year when I posted about the Eastsiders Kickstarter campaign so that brilliant writer Kit Williamson could make his script a web series? Well Season 1 was such a success that I’m happy to announce that a second season has been written and the clan are back on Kickstarter!

EastSiders is a dark comedy about a gay couple facing consequences in their relationship as they try to overcome infidelity and deception in Silverlake, California. Drunken outbursts galore, and with the hilarity that is Krazy Kathy over-complicating her relationship with her nice guy boyfriend Ian, the first season was a huge hit. The show was picked up by Logo to air on LogoTV.com, and later it was broadcast on WolfeOnDemand.com as a movie for international viewers to watch.


The series also won the LA Weekly Web Award for Best Web Drama, Best Ensemble at the Indie Series Awards and was nominated for a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy, among numerous other accolades.


Now every penny made from Season 1 is being thrown back in for Season 2, and you can be sure that it’s going to be even bigger and better than before if they can raise the money.


Kit Williamson is nothing less than incredible, and has become something of an inspiration to me since I came across EastSiders. Watching as Kit’s own creation became a success, I’ve realised that you can’t just wait around for a great opportunity; instead of waiting for success to come to you, go get it yourself.


Click here to pledge to the EastSiders Season 2 Kickstarter!

Something kind of personal…

I haven’t really spoken about my family much on here, and I’ve never intended to. But something happened today that I want to talk about. Maybe someone is going through something similar, and maybe someone can help me see some sort of light. Because I have these odd unfamiliar feelings about the topic and I don’t know how to address them.

Before today I hadn’t spoken to my father in over six years, by a matter of choice. I changed my surname and I’ve torn up every single Christmas and birthday card he has ever sent me. I used to really hate him, because he made mine, my mum’s, and my brother’s lives a misery. When I still called him my dad, he was a selfish, bullying drunk who was able to afford cigarettes and booze and football season tickets, but was too skint to pay for days out or meals out. He had enough energy to bully my brother and strangle him with a washing line, but he was too tired to spend actual quality time with us. He was cruel, and the final straw was when he attacked my mum because she had someone other than him fixing her car.

Today was my birthday and I answered the door to see him standing there. He looked awfully old. His teeth are even yellower than I remember and he’s lost one of his front incisors. I expected to feel the hate I’d let go of a couple of years back, but all I felt was pity for the mess I saw before me. Not the sympathy he tried to gain from me, just pity. The big bad dad that I’d feared for a large portion of my life was now nothing more than a short pitiful old man, and although the fear is well and truly gone, it’s been replaced by another emotion that right now I can’t place my finger on.

I know that I’m never going to be able to forgive him for all the hurt that he caused, nor am I interested in keeping in contact with him, as I have told him. But it’s kind of hit me hard in a way that I can’t describe, and it just makes me cry to think of those five or ten awkward minutes facing the man who I had feared more than anything else in my life.

A Change of Lent

In Britain, Lent is a big deal that the majority of people – Christian or otherwise – still do before Easter. I don’t know if other countries do Lent (I only just found out today that a lot of Christian countries don’t), but for us it’s still very much a tradition.

For years I have given up indulgences such as chocolate and alcohol for Lent, but this year I wanted a new challenge. So I was going to give up forks and spoons and use chopsticks instead.

I know, I’m crazy.

Then a friend told me that that was dumb and suggested that I give up hugs instead (I am very much a hugger). But then I felt like I was offending other friends by denying them hugs, and it’s pretty darn awkward just shaking hands with them!

Which is when one genius friend told me today that instead of losing something for Lent, he tries to gain something from it instead, and every day of Lent he will try something new.

So that’s it. From now on, every Lent I am going to try to learn – or start to learn – something new. And this year it’s going to be my British Sign Language Level 1. I started learning BSL Level 1 back in Sixth Form until my teacher had to leave, so this will make sure that all those lunch times don’t go to waste. I’ve signed up for the BSL online course, and considering it’s costing me £19.99, it will give me that extra motivation to stick to it.

I haven’t properly looked at how much content Level 1 covers, but for now I’m going to either be realistic or really unrealistic when I say that I hope to have covered two of the three modules by the end of Lent. Wish me luck!

Do you guys do Lent? What are you giving up this year? Or are you doing things a little differently too?

Keep smiling!

Claire

Time of Your Life (5 years since Sian died)

Five years ago today my friends and I learned that a wonderful girl in our year – Sian Butcher – had lost her fight with cancer and had passed away at just 14 years of age. She was our friend, and about the kindest person I’ve ever met. She was there for me when I felt like I had no one, and when people were horrible to her she just seemed to wave away their insults like they were nothing. She cared for anyone who needed someone, more often than not with some sort of funny remark or joke at hand, and she was simply the last person in our school who should have been dealt the hand she was. It’s something that still gets to me even now.

I feel a whole cocktail of different emotions when I think of Sian. I feel sad because she was so young when she found out she had cancer, and far too young to die. I still feel the same anger I felt when she told me about the small minority of people at our school who laughed and jeered, “Sian’s got cancer in her arse!” like cancer is just some big joke that can be removed as easily as an ingrown hair or a mole.

But most of all I feel a whole lot of guilt and regret because I wasn’t as good a friend as she deserved.

That’s the thing about Sian. She was smart, caring, funny, and had a calm aura about her. But she was also really under-appreciated, and I still hate myself for the fact that I was one of many who didn’t appreciate her as much as we should have. I don’t know why I was that way. Neither of us were popular, nor did we care about getting in with that sort of crowd. We could’ve been more than just friends through Maths class and catching up because of the odd bumping-into-one-another near the IT block. We could’ve been the best of friends if I hadn’t been so…I don’t know. Maybe it’s all in my head and it’s just the way things panned out, but there’ll always be a part of me that will think, “What if I’d made more of an effort with her?”

I remember a few months before she died she came to visit us all at school. It had been over a year since most of us had seen her. My friends and I were in the lunch hall when a girl in our year came bursting in telling us that Sian was on the middle yard. I remember leaving all my things and racing off to find her in her wheelchair, surrounded by a crowd of teachers and pupils. She’d had to have one of her legs amputated, but she was more pissed off that she’d had to lose her long hair due to chemotherapy – typical Sian.

I thought I was getting a second chance to be a friend she deserved.

I’d given her my number and we were keeping in touch after that. We’d made plans for me to visit her and I’d bought her a pair of fingerless gloves that matched a skull bandanna she’d gotten from one of the teachers the day she came in. We’d been catching up in a classroom and she tied that one around her head and the other one – a star print bandanna – around her remaining leg, saying something about how it could be the latest fashion. I had made a silent pact there and then to stop being a sort-of-there friend and show her how loved she was, and how appreciated she was.

I received a text from her saying she was too unwell for me to visit, and a month or so later she was gone. I took her gloves to her funeral and placed them on her grave with a letter to her and her family.

What’s comforting to know is that she was Sian right to the very end. Her coffin was biodegradable (she always did love nature) with a design of dinosaurs in the jungle, and her grave is marked with a wooden cross, surrounded by windmills and fairies and other things that people have put there that remind them of her. It’s the most beautiful thing to stand out in the graveyard, yet also the most heart wrenching.

Her death hit us all really hard; I know that even those who had bullied her or had even just once said something cruel to her regretted it probably still do now. Our school have a bench and a bird feeder on the grounds as a lasting memorial for her, which I think she would’ve loved. A good friend of hers at school started a Facebook group for all who knew her so that we can post messages, photos and memories – just remember her. And every birthday, Christmas, New Year and…2nd March, the page is filled with loving messages to her, or the lyrics to one of her favourite songs: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

But I will always be haunted by the what ifs.

I know that Sian understands and forgives me for the silly, selfish little girl I was back in high school. But I want her and her family to know that although I didn’t bully her, and I was never cruel to her, I was still not good enough to her and I will always regret that. I know I can’t change the past, and I know I’m too late for Sian, but I hope I have proven – and will continue to prove – how sorry I am, and that I have changed so that I will never under-appreciate someone ever again.

And to my friends who read this: I don’t want pity, or reassurance that I was a good person in high school or that I’m a good person now or anything like that. I just want you to know that I love every single one of you with all my heart, and if you ever feel like I don’t appreciate you feel free to tell me. I don’t want anyone to feel like that ever again.

In the meantime, I will be listening to the song that was played at her funeral, and remembering the girl who I feel honoured to call my friend, and who deserved so much more from life and from us.

Rest in peace, Sian.

6th Feb: Apologies!

Exam season has taken over my life for the past month, hence why I haven’t been keeping up to date with this. But, it has now finally come to an end and I’m somewhat free to breathe and sleep. Ahh.

Except not so fast! For I wrote those words on the 21st January mere hours before we were due to be thrown into a world of doom and gloom: DESIGN.

Concept design

Why oh why, Design? Why do you hurt me so bad?

Everyone outside of my Engineering class gawks with amazement – and sometimes jealousy – when I tell them that for our design module we have to design and manufacture a wind turbine. Even when I tell them it’s only 400mm cubed maximum they still think it’s a fantastic group project to have. Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited when we were first given our task, but as it became more and more restricted – to the extent that we have to be able to build a structure able to withstand 10kg in the direction of the wind out of a single 1m x 0.5m x 0.7mm crappy aluminium sheet (trust me, 1050 series aluminium alloy sheet at that thickness is pretty damn useless) – I have found myself caring less and less for it. I was hoping for a project which would allow us to use our initiative more, but I guess this can be considered something to really challenge us…if it’s not completely impossible to do that is…which could well be the case.

A rough SolidWorks model of our turbine

Now it’s getting very close to the manufacturing stage – we start on Wednesday – and although I’m excited, I am really apprehensive about it because I don’t know how all the parts are going to be joined together, since one or two members of my team haven’t considered any of this while designing their part. I can only hope that the planning sheets I thrust in front of them at tomorrow’s meeting will slap them in the face and perhaps get at least one drop of brain juice flowing within their abnormally thick skulls.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of my team are great, especially my fellow structural engineer with whom I have had the pleasure to work with. However, we have found at times that a few of them can really drag their feet when we need important information from them to allow us to draw up an accurate technical drawing of the structure, and one wouldn’t bother turning up to meetings until the day of a deadline. It’s stressing me out a lot!

In any case, as I say, I am looking forward to getting back into the hands on side of Engineering. I went to visit the workshop last week to confer with one of the technicians there, and I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia. It’s been far too long! I had to stuff my itching hands in my pockets to prevent them from reaching for the nearby centre lathe!

The only problem with the manufacturing is a big’un: we’re not allowed to use the machinery. The technicians will do whatever work needs to be done on the machines, and we just wait around for them to do it. It sucks. This, on top of the stress of whether or not this structure is even going to conform to the specifications when it’s built, makes this project all the more flubbledubble tummyrotten crap.

Anyways, I don’t know when I’m going to be able to keep up to date with IBitThePiranha, what with design, the rest of my course, and my internship with Vulcan. Not to mention uni elections are coming up and my dear friend, Jay, is running for experience officer, so I’ll be helping on the campaign front for him.

I hope you guys can keep on smiling without me!

Claire

EDIT (20th February): I never got round to posting this for some reason, but here it is. Better late than never, right? Aha…

De-clutteration for the nation…well…me

It’s got to that time of year again when I’ve realised how much stuff I have that I don’t want or need, and so today I’ve been sorting everything out in my room of what to keep, what to bin and what to sell. I find the whole spring cleaning thing (although I’ve started a bit early this year for it to be called that) to be quite tedious, except comforting and exciting at the same time. Comforting because I’m de-cluttering my space and there’s just something stressful about having so much stuff that I don’t know where to put it even if I do have to eventually tidy my room for some reason. Then it’s exciting because it’s a chance to try and earn a little bit of money (and what with the state of the economy all of us are dying to make a bit of money), and of course it’s tedious because of the whole sorting through your belongings, having to part with some stuff you’ve become attached to because of those damned Toy Story movies, and then listing everything on eBay and buying envelopes etc for postage and packaging…it’s just a lot of effort at times. Though it’ll be worth it if I can get a bit of money for it!

I’ve put a small batch of items on eBay to sell now, and I’ll be adding some more tomorrow. Feel free to check the ones out already by clicking here if you fancy having a gander. You’ll be helping me a lot, and you might find something worth buying, though I’m not making any promises!


Have any of you started sorting through your belongings yet, or is it just me? I know it’s probably just me, but oh well! Keep smiling!



Claire


Twitter: @IBitThePiranha