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.

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

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!

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

Wind Turbines, Costa Coffee & Imbesullens (an update from Yours Truly)

Well hello there!

Yeah yeah, I know it’s been a while, and I’m super sorry about that. Second year is a lot more hectic than first year…which sounds like I’m pointing out the obvious, but I really didn’t realise exactly how bad my schedule was going to be at the beginning of the year. And alas, I haven’t had much time to keep you guys in the loop.

So first thing’s first: design project. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post (aha – here we go!), our group project was to design and manufacture a wind turbine out of a 1.0m x 0.5m x 0.7mm thick crappy aluminium sheet. Well, last week we finally had a finished prototype and got to see it in action during the performance test:

Our baby in the wind tunnel!

Although the braking system didn’t work (we’re still baffled as to why since it worked in the practice test), I was a proud mama watching as it generated 10.4W of power at wind speeds of 15m/s. If you consider the fact that the other groups that day got 8mW, 0.45W, 9.7W and 10.6W, we didn’t do too shabbily. Still, damn that group that pipped us!

Now all the rest of the groups have been. Out of 24 groups we generated the second highest power at 15m/s (again, damn that group that pipped us!), and only four groups managed to get their braking system to work (and two of those were manually done). To those four groups, I say bravo.

Tomorrow is the final loading test, where a 10kg load will be applied to our structures in the direction of the wind. Fingers crossed our structure won’t be one of many to buckle. Our simulations and calculations say that it’ll withstand the load, but you just never know.

Speaking of Engineering, guess who’s secretary of the Engineering Society nowwww? Yeah, I got back to my room after being voted into the committee and thought, “Shit, what have I done?” I ALWAYS do this to myself! When I feel like I’ve got a lot on my plate, what do I do? Add more to it! Yeah, like there’s any logic in that! But what’s done is done now, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m also directing a short play that I’ve written for Friday’s Proteus, and it’s the first time I’m directing, and then I’ve also got my lab report and design portfolio due on the Friday as well…gahhh! Why do I do this to myselffff?!

And to top it all off, I’ve got a terrible case of Lazyitis! I’m procrastinating like never before. I’ve watched a good number of the films that I’ve been wanting to see for ages: Limitless (I want that drug!), Rise of the Guardians (I want Jack Frost!…without the cold), Good Will Hunting (I want his brain! (no zombie-ness intended)), Frozen (I want…yeah, nothing from that film…maybe the ability to sing…).

But guys! His mischievous, fun, yet caring personality just ironically warms my heart!
Does it help that I found that attractive before I considered he’s actually quite a good-looking animated character?

And then I’ve made my life even worse by finding these ridiculous YouTube videos that fans of Rise of the Guardians have put up:

//www.youtube.com/get_player
Comedian Brian Regan – Stupid at School
//www.youtube.com/get_player
Comedian Brian Regan – Loitering and Manslaughter
Comedian Dane Cook – Speak & Spell and Simon

It might just be me who’s nearly crying with laughter, sorry I’m not sorry. They’re helping me cope with life! MOOSEN!!!!

And then I also found the Reid Oliver Cartoons (remember I’m lamely in love with the character Dr Reid Oliver from As The World Turns even 4 years after the show was cancelled?) made by a girl in Manchester – not too far away from my home! Ahh, those have had me chuckling too!

I think I might’ve lost the plot…though my mum and my friends say that I never had it.

Eight days ago, a man shouted at me as he drove past in his car, “You’re gonna die in seven days!”. I don’t care if I just drop dead now; at least I’ll be able to come back as a ghost, find him, and rub it in his face that he was about 24 hours out. True story.

I’m sorry, I’m going a little off topic with this post. But then again, this is an update, so I guess I can write whatever the hell I want. Sorry.

Can you tell I’ve had a lot of caffeine? I’ve been going coffee crazy lately so that I can meet all my deadlines, but it was today in Costa when I really got a caffeine hit. I’ve never been in Costa before until today. I’ve been stuck in the Library basement all day every day for so long that I just hate the Library, so one of my housemates suggested meeting her at Costa to get work done – at least I’d be able to eat and drink coffee openly there. After three hours and two cups of coffee I’d gotten a fair bit done and I decided to go back to the house when all of a sudden…WHAM! All of a sudden my pulse was racing and I wasn’t quite myself. It was kind of how I’d expect to feel if I was on drugs; it was weird. I must’ve looked a complete and utter idiot walking back to the house:

Naughty naughty Costa coffee…

     
That’s probably the last time I’m having Costa coffee.

Oh yeah! I’ve also dyed my hair purple! I felt like a change, so change happened. It’s quite subtle. In fact, I haven’t managed to take a picture where you can actually tell that it’s purple yet.

Attempt #1
Attempt #63

Trust me, it’s purple. I should know.

So yeah, that’s pretty much my life so far. I might be able to post a bit more after Friday since I will have finished my second semester! Although I will be powering on with my internship at Vulcan To The Sky Trust, so maybe not. That’s going pretty well, and now that it’s nearing the summer air shows it’s gonna be a lot busier; I can’t wait to get stuck in! University has been taking over, but as long as I keep time for revision I’m sure I’ll be able to juggle the both of them during these hols. Unfortunately it means I’m not going to be home much, which sucks since I really miss my family, but they understand, and my mum especially is 100% behind me on this. Yeah, my mum’s pretty darn amazing. She’s getting so spoiled this Mother’s Day!

Anyway, I think that’s all from me. I’m going to get on with some of my lab report now: Twin Rotor MIMO Systems. Interesting, but complex and often confusing.

What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments section or something. Oh, and keep smiling!

Claire

Short Story: The Shame

I remember when I was a little girl I dreamt of fairies and unicorns, and all things pretty. But now that I am older I realise that none of that is real, and now everything I dream of is ghastly, with ugly streaks of pain, fear, and most of all, shame. If only I’d opened my eyes sooner – they would not be haunted by this madness. But the damage is done and now I will have to live with the shame of it for the rest of my life.
I was naive, that’s all I can tell you. My parents took no notice of me so when it happened I didn’t understand, until the clawing at my face and screaming happened. My counsellor doesn’t understand me; it’s as if, at times, I’m speaking a different language.
“Why?”
“I don’t know why.”
That’s the main conversation we have.
Walking over to the reception now, the familiar fear and shame rise up to the surface, only to drift back down again as the receptionist smiles at me with assurance. Kindness. I’ve never been kind I realise, and the shame resurfaces immediately. And as I walk through that door, the feeling only intensifies. I see her sat with him. Oh the pain I’ve caused her. I nearly slam the door shut and run out, but I know I can’t avoid her forever so instead I close it behind me and sit down, completing the triangle. I look from my counsellor to her and back again, over and over, until she opens her mouth to speak. My eyes rest shamefully on her.
“Charlene. Why?”
I want to answer but my tears prevent me. I loved her daughter really, but I did it anyway. And as I sob, to my surprise she shifts her chair towards me so that she can fold me in her arms. And over my gulps and hiccoughs, I can hear her sniffing quietly, which only makes me think again of what I have done, causing me to burst into fresh tears.
What feels like a lifetime afterwards we finally break apart, and I pull myself together with such a force that the waterworks come to an abrupt end. I look at the poor woman, studying her mascara stained cheeks, and the little smile she gives me. And as I study it, I notice that the smile doesn’t just contain the sorrow and grief I had expected for the loss of her beloved Kate, but also something else.
Sympathy.
For me.
And so the story spills: the party, the drinking, the jealousy, the rooftop, the fight, the fall. And so now, although I still feel terrible, although my mind is still guilt-ridden…
Although I still carry that shame, I now know that what my counsellor constantly tells me is true, and I’m not alone. I will always feel that shame, but the support I will be receiving will help me through it. And so, as I walk out that door, as I walk past that reception and back home, for the first time in six months I do something I never thought to be possible again:
I smile.

The Long Way Home – Chapter Nine

“So what was it that you couldn’t tell me over the phone?” Bea asked as soon as she saw Kris entering the cafe, nudging towards him the mug of coffee she'd ordered. She had been at work when he’d phoned her, and quite frankly she couldn’t be happier for an excuse to get out of the office. It had been a long day of simply sorting out files and files that really didn’t need sorting, and waiting and praying for the phone to ring with a person on the other end not trying to waste her time trying to sell her company mobile phones or whatever else was on the market for much bigger businesses than hers. Hers. It had such a lovely ring to it.
 
“I told them,” Kris whispered, just loud enough for her to hear. When Bea simply looked at him, a frown creasing her otherwise smooth forehead, he added, “Our parents. I told them that I was gay.” Her eyebrows rose high then.
 
“Really?” she said. “Well how did they take it? Did they take it well?"
 
“If you consider walking out without another word as taking it well...”
 
“They walked out?” Bea could feel anger starting to bubble inside her gut.
 
“Grandma and Uncle George were okay about it; they accept me. But Mom and Dad just walked out. And Daniel...” Kris trailed off, eyes closing at the memory of last night, the door slamming behind him as he ran out. ‘Don’t touch me!’ he’d yelled.
 
“Daniel was there?”
 
“Yeah. He was.”
 
“How was he?”
 
“Not good. He didn’t take it too well...” ‘Don’t touch me!’ It rang in Kris’ ears, and his mind was riddled with the look the green eyes had shot at him, one filled with realisation, anger...fear. He shrugged his shoulders, eyes directed towards the floor.
 
“Oh Kris,” Bea sighed. She got up and hugged him, holding him tight in her arms as she felt the growing patch of fallen tears dampening the left shoulder of her blouse. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
 
“No,” Kris sniffed, pulling away so he could give his sister a sad smile. “It doesn’t matter.” His eyes froze upon a spot behind Bea, to which she turned to realise that Daniel had just entered the cafe. Daniel clearly noticed them, but quickly averted his attention to the barrister. Kris heaved a sigh, lowering his eyes to his cooling drink. "Anyway," he started suddenly, slapping a smile on his face. "Enough about me, what about you? How's the business going?"
 
Bea considered him for a moment before telling him about the stress of learning all the ins and outs of being the manager of a business. “It’s hard work, but that’s why I love it I guess,” she concluded. She paused a while, frowning slightly. “Kris, did you hear anything I said just then?”
 
He snapped out of it then, plastering a smile on his face. “Sorry, yes of course I did. You were always happiest when you were stressed...which probably makes you the most complex person to have ever walked this Earth!”
 
“And with that, I’m off,” Bea chuckled, getting up to put her coat on.
 
“What?” Kris stood up with her. “But it’s Bank Holiday! You can’t be working!”
 
“Let’s just say I have something I need to sort out before tomorrow,” she said mysteriously. She winked at him cheekily before leaving.
 
 
***
 
“Mom! Dad! A word.”
 
She threw her coat over one of the chairs in the kitchen, sitting down on the sofa in the living room as she waited for the footsteps upstairs to join her.  Her glare stuck to them like superglue when they came into view. It was like the tables had been turned – they were the naughty kids and she was the parent.
 
“What is the matter with you two?” she demanded to know. “It took me months to persuade Kris to tell you guys that he’s gay, and you just reject him? Who does that?”
 
“You knew all this time?” her mother asked in disbelief.
 
“Yeah, I knew. And I would never have made him tell you if I knew you would’ve acted like you have done.” She stood up in frustration, towering over them as they remained seated. “He’s your son! He is still your son! Just because he likes guys instead of girls, doesn’t mean he’s any less of a human being!” She stared them down, anger bubbling in her gut. “You know,” she began, “when I was little, I wanted to be just like you guys. I looked up to you both; you were my heroes. And you were Kris’. Hell, Dad, don’t you remember how close you used to be with Kris? Don’t you remember how you would make model aeroplanes together, and...and that model ship you both worked on and managed to get the strings all tangled up? He was still gay then and you didn’t have a problem with him. Now you know, you don’t want anything to do with him?”
 
She snorted slightly in disgust as she spun on her heel and left the house, the door slamming behind her. Larten immediately got up; stretching in that telltale way that said he was trying to hide the beginning of tears.
 
“She’s right, isn’t she?” It was more of a resignation than a question, and he merely nodded. “Oh Larten, what have we done?”
 
 
***
 
“Erm, Kris baby?”
 
It took a while for Kris to recover from the shock; since he came out to them last night his parents hadn’t even acknowledged him unless they really needed to. Now his mother was beckoning for him to come into the living room, and although at first he hesitated he found his legs carrying him towards them. Sitting in the chair adjacent to the sofa that his parents occupied, Kris couldn’t help but think up the worst case scenarios that could be about to turn his world upside down.
 
They were kicking him out unless he decided he was the straight son they wanted.
 
They were going to make him join the army to de-gay and man up.
 
They were going to-
 
“Your father and I still love you, Kris.”
 
“I’m sorry?” He couldn’t believe his ears.
 
“Kris, this isn’t particularly easy for us to get our heads round. As a parent you think of all the milestones you’re going to see in your child’s life, like their first steps...first words...graduating...getting married...having kids of their own...” She looked into his eyes anxiously, wondering how to continue. 
 
“But Mom,” Kris interjected, “gay people can still marry and have kids.”
 
“I know,” his mom nodded quickly. “I know. But...this just wasn’t what we expected.”
 
“But what you must know, son,” his father piped up, “is that we still love you. And we will be with you every step of the way, supporting you. Because you’re still our son; you’re still the same Kristos I know and love.”
 
Kris felt so emotional in that moment, his smile almost splitting his face in two. The three of them shared a group hug, mother and father holding the brave young man they were proud to call their son.
 
“I guess you’ll be going to your mother for advice on boys then,” his father joked when they eventually broke apart, earning himself a chuckle from Kris and a light slap from his wife. “Hey!” he laughed.
 
“That is a good point though,” his mother said, cocking her head thoughtfully. “Are there any guys that have taken your fancy?”
 
But Kris had already left the room, opting to play with his younger siblings upstairs. The two parents shared a knowing look.

Short Story: Tears of Liquor

We all make mistakes. Some are pretty harmless. Others…not so much. Sometimes mistakes cost us something, something precious. I lost something precious as a consequent for my actions.
I’m not supposed to drink. Three years ago I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas – as a result of constant binge drinking. I’d fallen in with the wrong crowd; we would meet up in the woods and drunkenly bob our heads in time to the heavy metal blaring from the portable stereo. My parents were always working night shifts, so it was easy to sneak in and out whenever I wanted.
I remember I’d had a stomach ache for couple of days, on off, but hadn’t thought much of it since it was quite dull. But as the weeks went on, I started to realise that it was getting worse. Waves of nausea would almost knock me off my feet, and I’d lost my appetite altogether. Then one night as I was boozing with my friends, I suddenly threw up. Someone screamed at the red blood that swirled in the yellow liquid, and then everything went blank.
I woke up a few days later in a hospital bed, recovering from a pancreas resection – the inflamed parts of my pancreas were removed and the ducts directly connected to my intestines, reducing the pressures on the ducts and improving the drainage of the pancreas. After several weeks in recovery, not to mention endless lectures from my parents, I was allowed home, and after a month of close surveillance from my parents to make sure that I was attending my Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, things started to return to normal. Well…as normal as they could; I was moved to another school, and that’s when I met her.
She was as messed up as me, yet she was able to give her heart to help anyone. Her chocolate eyes would always betray her if she ever decided to hide what she thought or felt, and she gave me the protection and affection I needed. We were friends instantly – best friends. She opened up a part of me I kept buried – she had the key nobody else could have. I told her that I was a recovering alcoholic, yet it didn’t deter her. I remember she smiled and simply said,
“It’s okay. I’ll always be here for you. I promise.”
Then she kissed my cheek and held me close.
“You are so brave,” she whispered.
She never let me forget that. Yet I still let her down.
We’d all gone out into town. Something happened that I couldn’t talk about. I’d been bottling it up for what felt like years, but I had only been in recovery for a little over fourteen months. It hurt because reality was different to the desire, the thoughts, the imagination…
We were dancing in a club, her and I; the others were on a different floor. As much as I wanted to join them, screaming the words to Slipknot and Black Veil Brides songs, I continued to strut and jive to the likes of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. For her. She was so beautiful – her eyes were closed and she was so lost in the music. I’d never seen her like this. Mesmerising. Exquisite. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
Then some asshole came over, started talking to her. She leaned in to hear him. Laughed at whatever he’d said. I felt something in the pit of my stomach stir, come to life. It screeched angrily at him, whoever the hell he was, breathing fire that burned my insides. She didn’t notice that I had gone until I had knocked back my eighth shot of black sambuca.
“What are you doing?” she chastised me.
“What does it look like?” I spat.
“You’re not supposed to be drinking. What about your-”
“ANOTHER!” I shouted over the music, ignoring her.
“Kirsten, you’ve had enough,” she said, trying to take the shot from me, but I quickly downed it, spilling most of it down myself. I wiped my mouth with the back of a gloved hand, eyes glaring at her, before brushing past her and kissing the first guy that made eye contact with me. I took him by the hand, stumbling and pushing past people to get to the gents’ toilets. But she intersected.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I screamed at her as she dragged me outside. I tugged my elbow out of her grasp and fell over.
“What am I doing?” she yelled back. “What am I doing? What are you doing? Look at you! Look at the state of you – you’re a mess!”
The look of disgust and hurt on her face seemed to sober me up immediately. I stood up and reached out to her but she recoiled away.
“Kat-”
“Don’t touch me,” she said coldly. She couldn’t even look at me.
“Kat, I-”
“I said don’t touch me.”
***
The taxi back to hers was tense and uncomfortable, the silence thick inside the vehicle. I barely dared to breathe in case I made things even worse. I felt sick, but I managed to keep the bile from rising up in my throat, causing a sob to escape my lips instead. I wasn’t sure if she hadn’t heard it due to the rain tapping on the windows and the hood of the taxi, or whether she chosen to ignore it, but either way I decided to try again.
“Kat, I’m so sorry-”
“Stop the car.”
“I’m sorry?” the taxi driver spluttered slightly.
“I said stop the car.”
She didn’t even wait for it to come to a complete halt before opening the door and storming off through the curtains of rainfall. I called out to her, cursed, and paid the driver before running after her, taking care to stay on my feet.
“Kat!” I shouted. “Kat, wait!”
I eventually caught up to her, grabbing her shoulder. She merely stopped, not bothering to look at me.
“I’m really sorry, Kat!” I shouted over the rain. “I was being selfish!” Nothing. “Please, say something! Yell at me, hit me, curse me, anything!”
She spun around then, eyes flashing in the light of the streetlamp above her. I couldn’t stop the flinch that the look caused to move me, and I could feel the beginnings of tears threaten to fall, prickling the corners of my eyes, a lump rising in my throat.
“What? So you can feel better about yourself?” she snapped. “Why did you do it? You know you’re not supposed to drink at all. One drink – one little drink – could kill you. You get that? You could’ve killed yourself!”
“Well maybe I should!” I screamed before I could stop myself. Her eyes widened, tears shimmering in those chocolate brown eyes. “Maybe I should!” I screamed again, the alcohol my lips consumed now consuming them. “Because what’s the point in me being here if I can’t have you?”
“You do have me!” she cried. “I thought I was your friend! I thought-”
“You don’t get it!” I screeched. “Don’t you see? I love you!”
The rain seemed to cease slightly, as if even the heavens were as shocked by my confessional outburst as she was.
“I love you, you stupid cow!” I sobbed. “I love how you become a part of your favourite songs whenever they come on the radio. I love how you’re so down to earth and compassionate to everyone. Hell, I even love how you believe that unicorns exist in Canada! I just love you!” The look on her face was one of shock, and she seemed to pale. “Well?” I asked, my voice still shaking from the tears. “Say something!”
“I…” She couldn’t think of the words. “I…I can’t do this.” She started to walk away. “I can’t do this right now.”
She left me standing in the dark, shivering and sobbing in the middle of the road. I couldn’t care less though. I just knew that I’d lost a wonderful friend for good.
***

I still regret what I did that night. I hurt the one person I cared for the most. I made her mad. It’s been a week; I know I’ve lost her for good.
***

I’m awoken by a buzzing noise. I look to my alarm clock. 04:13. I realise through my drowsiness that it’s my phone vibrating. Picking it up sleepily, I look at the caller ID and my heart skips a beat.
“Hello? … You are? … Okay, I’ll just get some shoes on and I’ll be right down.”
Sure enough her car is there, waiting outside my house. I try to ease the trembling as I struggle to properly shut the car door after me. I don’t look at her, and she doesn’t look at me. She just drives.
We reach our destination within fifteen minutes. Parking the car, she leads the way towards the beach and we sit on the sandy steps, overlooking the sea. We stay silent for what feels like a lifetime, watching as dawn starts to creep into the skies. The sun’s fingertips are curling over the edge of the distant waters, and the wind brings a taste of salt to the tongue when it darts out nervously.
“I’ve been thinking a lot,” she starts. Looking at her I see a slight frown creasing her forehead as she thinks of what she’s going to say next. “I’ve been thinking a lot, and I want to apologise.”
I’m stunned to say the least. “You?” I ask. “But you don’t need to. None of this is your fault.”
“I thought that maybe-”
“No! No, it’s not your fault! I think I just have a thing about wanting what I can’t have…and then getting in a strop because I can’t what I want.” Our laughter was light yet nervous. “I’m not going to drink again,” I say, holding up my little finger, bent like a hook. “I promise.”
She must be able to read the sincerity in my eyes because she hooks her little finger around mine, and we smile at each other before she rests her head on my shoulder and I hold her close to my side. We watch as the sun rises, calling upon a new day. A fresh start. A new beginning.

Now here’s something that makes me feel old! A poem that I wrote when I was 11.

Anger is a volcano, spitting out lava,
Lava as hot as the Big Bang.
Red-hot face,
Stamping about,
I feel he should be hanged.
Anger is like a face about to burst,
A balloon about to pop,
And after all your anger,
Things will never be the same again.
It is a strong bully,
Killing all love and friendship,
Hate is at every door,
Trying to break the law,
Day by day, hate swims by,
Day by day, you find lonely souls,
Day by day you see,
That hatred has left the town,
In loneliness and trouble.
As the man of darkness springs to life,
And as the sun goes down,
Death is at every door,
Under the moon’s silver gown,
The stars of night have a twinkle;
The gown has not a wrinkle,
The stars of night have a twinkle,
As silence travels over life.
He doesn’t miss a door,
He travels on and on,
And as the sun comes up,
Silence is then gone.



This poem was published in a book called Playground Poets. I found the book as I was tidying my room, so I felt I should really post this. I remember how proud I was for my poem to be chosen. It’s funny how seven years later I look at it and think, “What the hell is this rubbish?” but it’s obviously good if it was chosen to be put in this:
Do any of you have proud memories like this? Let me know!

And don’t forget: keep smiling!