Tuesday, 24 May 2016


Because I've decided to go to Japan (I'm still hoping anyway, nothing final yet) I've decided I need a new camera. I have a DSLR that I love - the Canon 600D which is perfect for my needs. But DSLRs are bulky things: carrying it around my neck hurts after a few hours, and pulling it in and out of my bag every few minutes soon feels old. I know, I know, first world problems if ever there was such a thing. I have my old point and shoot of course, which came with me on my last trip, but it's old and not up to the quality I like really although I could easily make do. Let's just accept that I've got the "I want"s.

These two are what I'm specifically wanting, either one although I prefer the Olympus Pen just for aesthetics but I love how both of them are designed to look like much older cameras. They're bridge cameras, so in theory give you almost everything a DSLR can but in a much more compact camera.

I used to have the Samsung NX2100 and actually really loved it, it was a fantastic little camera so I imagine the NX3000 won't be world's away from that. In fact I only got rid of that one because it was too good I couldn't justify keeping it as just a stand by, and it wasn't as good as my DSLR purely because I have more lenses for my Canon to switch between, and the Samsung didn't have a flip out screen like my Canon (both of these cameras do - a much needed addition for a solo traveler). A blogger who's photographs I really admire uses the Olympus, so that sways me towards that one slightly more.

I'm far too good at justifying frivolous purchases to myself.

A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I'm the queen

I really really hated Frozen the first time I saw it. I'd been looking forward to it for years as The Snow Queen has always been my favourite fairy tale. If you're not familiar with the original Hans Christian Anderson story, I urge you to go give it a read - you can do so online. It's much more complex than your average fairy tale (as are all of Anderson's tales) and very long and involved. When I was a kid I had an adaptation on VHS which I pretty much wore out (and which is actually shite now I look back on it, probably give that one a miss) When I did my foundation art degree, I picked The Snow Queen to illustrate as my final project and fully immersed myself in every aspect of the tale - from figuring out Gerda's route through Denmark up to northern Finland, to traveling for hours to see some real life reindeer for reference. I was that into it. It was also this time that I discovered the BBC movie adaptation which has to be my favourite retelling of the actual fairy story.

So when I went to see Frozen I had a lot of hopes and a lot of expectations. I knew it would be a bit different, this is Disney after all, but I left the movie theatre completely frustrated over what I'd just seen. It had no resemblance what so ever to the original, and I couldn't see much else beyond how let down I felt so I was scathing towards it. I didn't like the animation style, I didn't like the character design, I didn't like the music (trying too hard to be Broadway instead of being, y'know, a Disney movie) I watched on in bewilderment as it gained more and more popularity and despaired for the original tale.

I went to Disneyland Paris last year, and in the run up was rolling my eyes at the prospect of everything being Frozen related. In my town they have a big screen in the high street that usually shows commercials, but occasionally TV shows or movies (why? I have no idea) A few weeks before my visit to Disney I was walking down the street and saw they were playing Frozen. For some reason it wasn't as awful as I'd built it up in my head as being from the memories of it at the cinema. So I downloaded it and watched it that evening and I was in love. I already knew it was nothing like the original source, so I got to see the film for the story it was telling instead of looking for the one it wasn't.

I was particularly enamored with Elsa which I initially felt a bit cringey about purely because of all the kids that like her. Now she means so much to me I honestly couldn't care less if me liking her is 'cliché' or whatever other elitist crap. I love Elsa so much because she's disabled, and so am I.

She's a character dealing with mental illness as a result of being disabled. As someone who's been dealing with mental illness for years as a result of abuse for being Autistic - growing up getting bullied by my own family for being 'different' and 'weird', being taught to "conceal, don't feel, don't let them know" in order to hide my disability from the world to make other people more comfortable regardless of what that does to me, made to feel ashamed of the way I just am. When you're disabled you're 'othered' from society, much like they make Elsa out to be a monster through ingrained prejudice and refusal to understand. After fighting to be ordinary, Elsa finally feels free and like herself when she separates herself from society and allows herself to be her own person instead of forcing herself into a box she just doesn't fit.

I've never had a Disney character that I truly related to before, it was always a mixture of several. Now I hand on heart do and that's strangely exciting, to have someone I can relate to implicitly on such a personal level isn't a feeling I'm used to.

My Elsa travel mug I bought the other day.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Try to realise it's all within yourself no one else can make you change

I did a brave thing today and went into the record store I've been too scared of before now. It's quite foreboding from the outside: there are anti theft bars across all of the stickered over windows so you can't see in, and that always alarms me when I can't see into a shop. Also the fact that I often find record shops quite intimidating places anyway although I think this is getting better and better now, with the vinyl resurgence I think the proprietors are becoming more accustomed to seeing younger folk. With me being young and female I've been treated quite rudely in the past and made to feel thoroughly out of place and unwelcome, like I'm stepping into some "man zone" where women aren't supposed to know their arse from their elbow and it bothers them that I do.

I almost chickened out as I went past, but quickly scolded myself and went in anyway and was pleasantly surprised! Despite the shady exterior it was wonderful in there! There were quite a number of other people flicking through the boxes which made me feel much more relaxed, and although I didn't buy anything and didn't interact with the store owner, he went out of his way to say goodbye to me as I left and seemed like a nice feller and not at all snobbish or intimidating. It's much nicer than the store down the road from it which makes me so uncomfortable, so I'll definitely be going back.

There's also a record fair on in my town next Saturday which I'm excited for! I've not attended a record fair before as they're not usually held near me and I'm a bit too shy for these things. But I'm determined not to let my shyness hold me back any longer so have decided to just go - among other things I'm hoping to do soon!

Which may sound like I'm leading on to this next bit but I'm actually not, solo travel is something I love to do and have done often: I'm thinking of perhaps going to Tokyo either late 2016 or early next year. I've been to Tokyo before (on my own too!) in 2011 and adored it, but I've always kicked myself for all of things I didn't get to do. I was heavily into Japanese street fashion, so spent most of the trip immersed in that aspect and feel like I missed out on so much. I also put very little research into the trip and went during the hottest, most humid time of year which wasn't pleasant. Basically I'd love to go back and do all of the things I wish I'd done, do it properly. And I feel like I have a head start having been there before as I'll get to spend less time working out all of the tedious little things (like how to use the metro, the customs, etc) as I'd of done all of that before on my last trip so can just enjoy myself comfortably this time.

I had originally considered going to Shanghai Disney, the brand new Disney park that's being opened. It sounds ever so exciting, and as it's the cheapest Disney park in the world it felt like a not too expensive option (Disney parks are one of my 'things'. I've been to all of them except Hong Kong and obviously Shanghai) I kept mentally comparing it to the wonder that is Japan's DisneySea. Then I began wondering how safe Shanghai is for a solo traveler, what else there is to do in Shanghai and whether I should do it or just stick to Disney. And the more I thought about it, the more Tokyo kept creeping back into my thoughts and it just makes sense as a better option. Tokyo is safe, holds more of my interests, and I can still go to Disney and revisit DisneySea if I want. I feel like it would be a more well rounded trip than purely Disney, and perhaps as appealing as it is, visiting a brand new park perhaps isn't worth all of the hullabaloo. Go in a few years when it's calmed down a bit and the park has gotten into it's groove.

I'm so beyond excited to travel! I haven't done so since 2011, and what a perfect place to start!

Monday, 16 May 2016

When I hear that rock and roll it gets down to my soul, when it's real rock and roll

Queen are my favourite band, have been for years. They make my heart sing like no other, I'm the sort of person who will happily bore you to tears with facts about the band, and I listen to them every single day without ever getting bored. Yesterday I re-watched the BBC Days of Our Lives documentary. I've been down lately and it always raises my spirits immeasurably and inspires me to carry on and better my life. I don't even have the words for why, what it is exactly, those four men just inspire me like none other and mean so much to me. It's a brilliant documentary, I think even if you only had a passing interest in the band you'd find it interesting. It's difficult not to be impressed with everything they had to deal with and overcome, the appreciation it gives you for each album from knowing what was going on behind the scenes. I just really really really love Queen and wish I had the words to express just how much they mean to me and inspire me to be a better version of myself.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

People so busy makes me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright

I came home today, a 12 hour coach journey. I'm here for 10 more weeks, then my rental contract is up. Two more weeks of uni, after which I'll be chucking it in as it definitely isn't for me.

My coach trip included a change in London, so I had a full tour of the city. London is old hat to me: I'm from South London, we moved away when I was 14. At 21 I went to uni in London for two years. I liked it at first, but having no money due to being a student soon wore exceedingly thin, not helped by the fact I suck with money management anyway. I was also living in Tottenham and saw Mark Duggan get shot from my bedroom window. I saw the subsequent riots unfurl over the following days, going down to the tube station and seeing the shopping precinct opposite burnt to the ground. Wondering if my home would be included, if I'd have a home to come back to. Kind of takes the shine off a place, especially when you're already of a nervous disposition. But overall I like London. I've always since been of the impression "nice to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there." But driving through it on the coach I suddenly had a change of heart, I felt an excitement I haven't felt in ages. Maybe it's a passing thing to be ignored, but maybe it isn't? London's always felt like home, it's where I'm from - maybe it's simply calling me back?

I don't know if I'll go back there. I'm currently looking for work, hoping to have something for when the 10 weeks is up I can move straight into or as close enough as possible but we'll see what happens. I'm casting my net wide to improve my chances, and I don't feel like ruling London out anymore. I don't care much where I end up, but the more I think about it the more I hope it gets to be London. I want to go home.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Feel like I'm playing my role but it fits too tight, watch my life go by in black and white

I care way too much. It's my main issue in life. It's why I'm tense all the time, why I hate going out, why I get frustrated and depressed. It isn't social anxiety, it's more paranoia.

I care what people think, and I presume most people have bad intentions. Not just people, things too. I can remember when it started, I didn't always care so much. I can remember seeing a film as a kid where a character spied on people by cutting the eyes out of a painting and looking through it. I feel like this is a fairly standard movie spying technique, but it freaked me out. I began looking at my posters funny, wondering if they could see me. Who? I don't know, it was a Spice Girls poster so maybe them? I've never been able to shake it off since. I'm tense all of the time and can never relax because I can always feels things watching me. I know how nuts this sounds, I know it's crap, but knowing it's crap doesn't stop it. Beating myself up for having crazy thoughts doesn't stop it. I feel judged constantly, even over completely innocuous things like what TV show I might choose to watch or if I want to listen to "uncool" music or the same music more than once. Sometimes I feel defiant and do the thing anyway, but then I break out in a cold sweat, like I've been caught doing something nasty and it takes me so long to calm down. When I play my records, I avoid looking at the pictures on the sleeves, I avoid eye contact with magazines.

That's the nuttier side. I think it's fairly normal to care what actual people think, just not to the extent I do. It's funny, I don't care about fitting in in terms of dress, I've always been into alternative fashions. But when I go out I feel all eyes on me, like every-bodies in on a joke against me. I over analyze everything I do, scared of being perceived as "weird" and "different" which is a very real thing to me and common among autistics. We spend our entire childhoods being chastised for being autistic. "Don't do that it's weird", "You look like a retard" weren't bullying taunts but loving advice from my family to encourage me to appear more like they wanted. You don't hit 18 and just shake that off.

I'm fairly good at passing as neurotypical for bursts of time, but it's straining. Part of the strain is the constant worry that I "look like a retard". The stress becomes so great that I avoid people, avoid doing anything, and then it all gets worse. I'm attached so deeply to my thoughts and have always been a very internal person, but there are times it turns against me. And it gets to a point where I cop out, make excuses for myself, "I can't do that, I'm Autistic" instead of just trying and finding out. I end up feeling othered from myself, feeling like I need to apologise for merely existing.

I don't know where I'm going with this, I can't quite believe I'm going to post this publicly on the internet, but I am because I don't want to care. I'm sick of not living my life how I want to because of my faulty brain. I know people are too wrapped up in themselves to give a shit about what I'm doing or even notice me, but it doesn't help, I know it but I can't convince myself. I can't convince myself that my posters aren't side eyeing me at every available opportunity. I don't know how to get away from it, but I really want to try. I'm 27 and feel like I've barely lived and I'm tired of it. I'm tired of being ill, I'm tired of letting my disability define me and stopping me from being/doing what I want to be.

I've seen loads of doctors over the years, most of them aren't too concerned, more bothered about putting me on drugs that don't work to "perk you up a bit" than helping me with the root cause. I've finally found a psychiatrist who does care, so I'm mildly hopeful and optimistic. I saw a psychologist last year who told me when I have intrusive thoughts, to tally it off on a piece of paper to recognize the thought for what it is instead of trying to ignore it/hope it will go away/give in to it. And then say to myself "I know what this is, it's just my anxiety, I'm in control" (apparently the word order is important to retrain your brain). I usually forget to do it after a few days, but I want to try and stick with it. Apparently it takes up to 21 days to retrain your brain, the psychologist said it can take up to three months before there's a noticeable improvement. I'm so used to living like this it's my normal, so it's easy to forget but I mustn't. Nothing worth doing is ever easy or so they say. I'm going to beat this, and typing this out is my promise to myself.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Let's Scare Jessica To Death

I only discovered Let's Scare Jessica To Death recently. I generally dislike Netflix, it doesn't have enough old movies on it for my taste, but this time it got it so right. It was a recommendation after watching The Omen II (don't judge, it's not too bad for a sequel). It sounded a bit trite from the short synopsis, but I decided to watch it anyway just to see what it was like.

My absolute favourite genre is horror from the 60s and 70s. Movies that make you think and have an eerie atmosphere setting everything off balance, as opposed to the slasher movies that are considered horror by today's standards. This film fits that perfectly, I was captivated by it's dreamy atmosphere and although I watched it a few weeks ago it's barely left my mind since.

It's the story of Jessica, a woman recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital. I was initially skeptical of this, I detest how badly mental illness is abused within the horror genre, but this film is truly the best take on it. It's treated as just a fact about Jessica, rather than scaremongering. Jessica and her husband move to a new town for tranquility and recuperation, but strange things begin happening almost immediately. Even though the husband and friend witness it, Jessica is accused of it being "all in her head" and she's dismissed as a hysterical woman. She's considered too mistrustful, a bit of a burden, and prone to hallucinations even though it's all happening right under her husband's nose.

Rosemary's Baby is my number one favourite film: if it's yours too, then you're in for a treat with this one.