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 now have a membership with ManKind Initiative, 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.

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
https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/Xxck9GH8sqU&source=uds
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

Internal Monologue: Letting Go

Letting go of something, or someone, is one thing that a lot of us dread doing, even when it’s obviously the best thing for everyone. When you love that person so much it hurts to not be with them, it’s almost as if you want to slap yourself silly with a wet fish, screaming, “What is wrong with you, you idiot? They’re the best thing that ever happened to you!” Except they’re not, or else why would you be letting them go?

But that’s the thing about ending a relationship. You know you need out and that this is the best thing to do and all that bullshit you’ve already told yourself ten thousand times, but it’s just so difficult to put all those words into actions and actually do the right thing. You imagine them to be heartbroken, and perhaps even burst into to tears or get angry with you. After all, you’ve both invested so much only to get…this. An unhappy ending, til the next time. It’s one of the scariest things you have to do, and so you just keep leaving it, and leaving it, and before you know it you’ve left it a month and you still can’t make it to their door to give them their stuff back that they left at yours and set you both free.

“I’m not a pussy. I’m not a pussy…”

That’s what you keep telling yourself, yet you’re still here, curled up with your comfort food, wrappers scattered all over the carpet, watching some crappy TV show that bores you to tears but is still better than going out there to face the music. It’s like they’re your safety blanket, except they make you feel vulnerable and needy.

So what’s the point in going 30 on this motorway? Either way you’ll be reaching the same destination. It’s just a lot safer for everybody to get there sooner rather than later. Surely…

A Letter Not To You (Part Two)

Sometimes I really hate you. You’re so fucking perfect, yet you’re blind to how much you affect me. Can’t you see that since we got together – no, since BEFORE we got together – I’ve been a complete mess in front of you? You break and mend me all at the same time when we are together, and when we are apart you just hurt me. And what makes it even more painful is the fact that you don’t even seem to realise what you’re doing to me. I have been reduced to the most needy creature in the world, and it’s disgusting. I think of you every second of every day; I wait in anticipation for the text you never send and the call you never make. I have to restrain myself from bombarding you with more messages when you don’t reply straight away, and I just hate how I am now that you’re in my life again.

I don’t understand this effect you have on me. I was always so laid back about relationships and wondering why the guys I dated were always so clingy and unable to allow me to be myself. And then you came along and my world came crashing down around my ears. You never contact me; I feel like I’m making all the effort in this relationship as we so call it. You make me feel desperate and needy for your love and I can’t stand being like this. It’s not the way I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be the selfish bitch who has no heart and now you’ve caged it like it’s one of your pets. Sometimes you don’t reply to me at all and I find myself in a mental war with my brain and that stupid fucking organ that signifies love:

“Should I text her again?”

“No, you’ve texted her already. She’ll reply when she’s not busy.”

“But that was over six hours ago. Should I Facebook her?”

“No, she’ll reply. Stop seeming so bloody desperate. Pull yourself together!”

“But she isn’t replying!”

Don’t you understand? I’m not like those other idiots, yet here I am acting as if I am, all the time. You’re the first thing I think about in the morning, and the last thing I think about at night. It is torture, a torture that you’re either too blind or too self absorbed to notice.

I apologise – I know you’re not self absorbed. You care so much about your friends. Well…all your friends except for me. We were friends once, babe, remember? We were friends and then we became more than friends, and although that all sounds so simple and hunky-dory, it’s not. It’s really…really not. Because although I know we are “more than friends”…although I know we are in a relationship…sometimes it just feels as though I’m nothing to you. It feels like you don’t care.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic. Perhaps. But that doesn’t magically stop what I’m feeling. I am constantly torn between kissing you and breaking up with you, but I know for certain that I love you.