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It’s not just you…

I had a great time reading Thought Catalog’s  humorously entitled “15 Things That Make Us Paranoid… Or Is It Just Me? Crap, It’s Probably Just Me!”  Whether on not we all share the same irrational niggles in the back of our minds there are always some that overlap. I find there’s a great sense of community in reading personal anecdotes or thoughts from others that make you want to turn and nod to anyone nearby whilst you virtually scream ME TOO!!! in your head. I often feel that same sense of shared experience from stand-up comedians who focus on everyday life (their wives, children, commuting politics) as opposed to extreme comedic anecdotes that are more fiction than fact.

Glamour Hey It's Ok

This is me…

The quips they follow with vary from the self-indulgent: Hey, it’s OK to laugh at your own jokes…they’re hi-larious the irrational: Hey, it’s OK to be a little offended if he’s not completely all over you every single time you get undressed to those habitual, guilty things we find ourselves doing: Hey, it’s OK to switch off instantly the second
someone says, “I  had such a weird dream…

Best of all they make your actions feel completely excusable! Enjoy some more below courtesy of the Glamour Pintrest page! I’m thinking I might write a few posts detailing some of my own guilty confessions and irrational habits!

hey its ok starbucks

hey its ok audrey

Hey Its Ok to...

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The Host

If you are a twi-hard fan then back in the day you may have read Stephanie Meyer’s other novel, The Host (2008). However you may have stumbled across this book just as a lover of Young Adult sci-fi as it’s a pretty damn good read. I ended up flying through this book in one of those intense all night reading sessions after I’d bought it for a mixture of the two reasons above. It caught my eye because of the publicity it received, being from the author of the Twilight sensation, but it also fell into a genre I had a tendancy towards already.

There’s been a huge surge in dystopian fiction aimed at teenagers, to name just a few novels that have recently been gracing the ‘Top Seller’ lists internationally: The Uglies, The Maze Runner and Divergent. The genre, bench-marked by classics such as Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World, has exploded in fiction aimed at young adults. Perhaps its popularity stems from a fascination about the state of our planet and a growing awareness of political and social fractures that might cause a modern-day dystopia. However not all dystopian themes mirror a future that could be possible many steering towards a very fantasy or sci-fi direction and might serve as pure escapism and indulgence in some pretty dark themes. Either way the genre is open to a lot of different themes and interpretation and if your looking for some good reads to ease you in then check out my recent post on some dystopian fiction I read when I was younger.

The Host is set in a future where a race of parasitic alien ‘souls’ have taken control of the majority of humans left on Earth, all except for small pockets of resistance. It is in the journey to find such a free community that the still-human protagonist Melanie is captured and taken over by a soul. The narrative centres on the battle of free will as Melanie refuses to completely lose herself to the ‘soul’ whose mission is to inflitrate the resistence and also the soul’s own conflicts of conscience. Along the way there is naturally love and heartbreak and a touch of action. Due for release later this month (March 29th 2013) I’m intrigued to see how they’ve adapted the novel for the screen.

In a similar vein the hugely successful trilogy The Hunger Games hit the big screens with its first installment last year. I always have mixed views when a novel I love is made into a movie. “They don’t look like that?! what happened to that bit!” are phrases that will often pass my lips after I’ve watched a movie adaptation. Preconceptions are shattered and that indulgence you share with a book in being able to visualise the words and characters and themes in your own way is ultimately gone. I’m not against it completely and there will be movies I watch where I’ve yet to read the novel and perhaps later do and enjoy in a different way. However for the most part I tend to seperate them as best I can. I personally felt that The Hunger Games movie was not a touch on the novel but can see why. There is afterall a complex world and fast paced plot to capture in 90 minutes or so.

Whilst The Host may be one I save until DVD release (which seems to come around so fast these days) I’m keen to check it out and hopefully be plesantly surprised! You can watch the trailer below.

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Motivation for March

It’s safe to say this past winter has felt incredibly long. It creeps up on us early November and before we know it we’ve all been hibernating for the past 4 months. If you’re anything like me the benefits of those chilly, dark nights may be cosy evenings in. However it’s not easy to avoid the winter blues that often go hand in hand, and even harder to shake them off.

Seasonal Affective Disoryesyoucander (SAD) is a form of depression characterised by its tendency to cause anxiety and depression at certain times of the year. This is especially prevalent during the long winter months when we have low exposure to natural sunlight. Whilst we don’t all suffer from SAD the short days and freezing temperatures we’ve endured can take a toll on our mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s typical to feel a sense of lethargy, lose interest in everyday projects and worryingly neglect physical activity. But now spring is finally on our doorstep here are four areas we can adapt in our lifestyles to give us that all important boost of energy perfect for the coming months.

Eat Better!
You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. If there’s a healthy eating regime or a diet you’ve been meaning to put into action there’s no better time than the present. To lose the sluggish feeling that winter brings, lose the junk and the sugar first and focus on finding a balanced meal plan that makes you feel better.

Catch Some Sun
Now the days are getting longer and we are seeing glimpses of our long forgotten friend the sun, there’s no excuse not to get out and about. Just a brief spell in the sun (even when it’s still cold) helps our bodies produce vitamin D and releases endorphins. If long hours at the office still steal you away from day lit hours grab lunch and eat it outside with a colleague.

Get Physical
January might seem like the best opportunity to make get-fit resolutions for the coming year but it’s often difficult to put things into action. Take the time to introduce more physical activity into your everyday routine. On your commute to or from work try getting off a stop earlier than you normally do and briskly walking. When we get the blood pumping in our bodies we feel more stimulated and happy. With many studies showing the positive link between mood and exercise there’s no better way to shake off any seasonal blues.

 Organise and Prioritise
When the environment around us is cluttered it can have a proven negative effect on wellbeing. Take on new tasks and projects, whether it’s a spring clean around the house or making time to focus on a relationship you’ve been neglecting. Evaluate your life and organise what needs doing. Add a time scale in which it can be accomplished by and this will provide a sense of calm, lift spirits and make us even more motivated to pursue goals in other areas.

Whilst I don’t have the best track record for following my own advice I’m keen to see how these techniques can be put in to action. I’ve definitely been a bit of a coach potato these last few (long) months, and felt pretty awful too. If you have any motivation tips please share!

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Apologies and new starts!

It’s been a while (to say the least) since I’ve graced Panda Pop with any sort of writing and I’m sorry! This past year has flown by, and with it my blogging motivation went into hibernation.

I’ve been in and out of various things since we last spoke. I waitressed for 6 months at a new opening near Marble Arch after moving to London. I left to work as a Marketing and Sales team member for Salon Evolution in Shorditch, which was a grueling sales job that made me sell my soul a tad. It taught me a few lessons and skills though as every experience does.

I spent Christmas back home in my beautiful Cornwall before coming back to London and starting at a new restaurant. That was the beginning of an amazing (but frighteningly fast) year that blessed me with some amazing work colleagues (now friends), some amazing experiences (Soz in Kos, Bestival 2012) and an amazing someone I’m incredibly lucky to call mine ❤

When Christmas came around again it felt like I’d blinked and everything had all gone by so quickly. I was on another grueling 8 hour mission back to my hometown for a spell of gaming with my little brother and cooking Christmas lunch with mum. All too soon I’d be watching the south west countryside flash past the train window as I headed back to the city.

So when I got back and I slugged it through the post-Christmas London transport system with my suitcase and my rats (they traveled home with me) to my south east haunt, Lewisham I decided something needed to change. I’d been too comfortable doing something that allowed me to pay for my nights out, my overpriced flat and a few holidays but stopped me from actually engaging and thinking and learning. I moved to London for the experience, the city and the people and whilst it doesn’t disappoint it’s a budget breaker. I realised I’d been scared to leave what I knew and relied on, to leave the only solid foundation I’d had so far in London.

So March 2013, here I am currently unemployed and living in the most expensive city in the UK. Scared? A little. Excited? Definitely. It’s a month where things are changing for me and I’m starting to engage in projects I’m passionate about. I’m going to be writing a lot on here and starting to update my YouTube. Meanwhile I’ll keep you posted on the immensely stressful task of job hunting and my experience so far with interviews and applications.

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Tumblr! “Motivation”

I have a Tumblr account which I use sort of like Panda Pop but with less structure and as and when I feel like it! I’m thinking about sharing some Tumblr posts on here every now and again. Here’s an example of a typical ramble you may expect from me…

Motivation?

Where does it come from, and more importantly where does it go. Just when I feel like another rare day off is slipping into night, (when so little has been achieved that getting out of my pyjamas has definitely NOT been accomplished,) It suddenly overcomes me. Not for long mind, just a sudden urge to do one thing on my seemingly endless “Things to do” list. Today of which was número uno, TIDY MY ROOM. An obvious objective to find neglected on a to-do list but one that I’ve been neglecting for just a tad too long. (Think dead monster spiders under every item of clothing I own – on the floor.) So I won’t lie my intention of getting out of bed was at first to vacate to the sofa bringing with me my laptop for last night’s TOWIE and with a feast in mind. But once up, I just felt this sudden drive. To do one thing today seemed necessary. So I start cleaning a corner of my room, I clean my rats out – an unpleasant to-do also long overdue. I Hoover, I dust, and I can’t stop until I’ve finished. Believe me there was plenty of moments my bed called back out to me, whispering my name like the comfy temptress it is. But I carried on. And hooray because the feeling after is so satisfying, and as I sit down for TOWIE, I feel like it is a reward. And as for my feast it is now deserved. I can unfortunately say these bursts of motivation don’t come around too often. I am a serial putter-offer, an offender of the organised. Weak minded or perhaps just lazy! But whichever way I look at it I’m glad they appear once in a while if not to keep me sane then at least to keep my room non-toxic and habitable! 🙂


www.tumblr.com/siobhanalford

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Update :)

So It’s been quite a while since I updated this blog. I’m afraid to say it took a back seat to my third year studies but perhaps rightly so. The stress and pressure that accompany the final year in a degree are now haunting memories in back of my mind, and the relief and pride at actually crossing the finishing line welcome replacements. I’m going to take the time over the next few weeks to actually upload some of my final pieces of work, including my creative dissertation, and of course it’s the dreaded results day at the end of this week so I will be sure to write (perhaps woefully) about that. For now I am in the midst of finding a place to live in London, finding a job (waitressing for now) and choosing what I want to do with my life in the next few years. No pressure this month then?

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Friday’s piccy: Home

Godrevy and Gwithian beaches, about 10 minutes from my house. I went for a muck around surf with my dad and Sam last night and it really struck me how little I appreciate the beauty of home. The sun was sinking over the sea, the waves were not too rough – believe me it was picture perfect – and I thought how damn lucky I really was. So here’s my shout out to Cornwall and the true beauty we have here. I love you.

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Dissertation Dilemma

I got back my dissertation proposal yesterday and, to my surprise, it had been given the go-ahead by my tutors. I say surprise because since submitting my idea I had began to question it. You can read the full proposal here but basically I’ve proposed to do a creative dissertation, specifically a selection of short stories, very character focused, based on strands of the existentialist philosophy. I knew my proposal was quite weak – my stories underdeveloped and my theme only a starting point at best – and had since been wondering whether I should switch to doing a discursive dissertation, a literature based investigation into a writer or theme of my choice.

Now my dilemma stands as such: do I throw myself into developing the short story suggestion? Even with the risk that always accompanies creative fiction, that being how subjectively it can be read (a bad mark on this could really affect my degree). OR do I change my whole idea without guidance from the powers above (aka my lecturers) to a discursive dissertation which allows for an essay format I am already familiar with?

Take a look at my proposal – let me know whether you think my idea has any strength and if anyone has any suggestions or starting points for research please feel free to comment or e-mail 🙂 many thanks

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Creative dissertation proposal

My dissertation proposal – feel free to pick apart and offer suggestions in any form!

A collection of short stories: An hour to exist – conceptual outline

The project will comprise of a collection of short stories based on concepts taken from the philosophy of existentialism. The stories will incorporate themes of absurdity, meaningless, angst, alienation and boredom. There will be 3 or 4 stories (around 1200-1600 words each) which will be entirely character focused with an aim to depict a ‘snapshot’ (an hour) of the characters lives. The characters will not know each other or live near each other but there will be details within each piece of fiction that ties them all together.

Hooper (2000 p.2) when talking of Edgar Allan Poe’s famously gothic short stories describes them adeptly: “In the space of a few pages and a few minutes we are offered quick but indelible glances into Poe’s dark characters.” He then furthers his view on some of Poe’s classic work such as ‘The tell-tale heart’ (1850) as offering us “peeks at the possibility of darkness in our own souls.” This sense that the reader can draw out of a story a sense of dark and quiet reflection is something that the collection proposed would aim to recreate.

“A good short story asks a question that can’t be answered in simple terms” (Mosley and Keison 2003 p.XV) The themes that the stories proposed will encapsulate will ask questions, and draw upon many worries in life that many of us think about or at least lie dormant within our subconscious. These include a sense of not fitting in, an awareness of death and a struggle to assert meaning to human life and existence. The issues raised by those who believe in the concept of existentialist philosophy can be seen as relevant to us all.

Many existentialist issues have been raised in literature such as Albert Campus’s novel ‘The Stranger’ (1942) and Satre’s play about the afterlife entitled ‘No Exit.’ (1944) Furthermore elements of such concepts can be seen woven into modern fiction such as Nick Hornby’s ‘High fidelity’ (1995.) Works such as these will be closely looked at and interpreted for their views on existentialist concepts and themes. ‘The Scream’ (1893) the famously haunting painting by Edvard Munch will be used as a starting point for inspiration as it is a beautifully captured piece that expresses intense and painful desperation.

Medium
The short story feels right for this project. There is a sense of totality in the reading of a story in one sitting, an intensity that can strengthen the message intended. “The pleasure of the quick, concentrated reading experience is more piquant.” (Hooper 2000 p.2) Every word in a short story feels precious; leading purposefully toward a predetermined effect.

The short story can also be seen as a ‘fragment,’ as a small glimpse into something immense. This ties in with the concept of the collection in that the stories would be snap-shots, focused and intense insights into individual’s lives, thoughts, and anxieties. The short story can be seen to present “in a vigorous, compressed, suggestive way, a simplification and idealization of a particular part or phase of life.” (Albright 2009 p.5) in other words it can be seen as a small piece of a puzzle, that although can seem abstract and sometimes incomplete, can still bring something to the user, and is vital and needed despite its size.

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World cup 2010 here we go…

Its only a matter of hours until we’ll be cheering our lads on to the pitch, fresh and ready to take on the Yanks in the first England match of the tournament. I’m no football fanatic, hell I’m not even a fan, but its hard not to be whizzed along with the wave of world cup madness that is engulfing the nation. I have to wonder now where I even was in 2006 because my interest never peaked then – all I knew is that we were knocked out by those pesky Portuguese in the quarters. But the hype that surrounds the 2010 world cup is intense. Social networking site Twitter is alive with avid tweeters and football fans alike tweeting predictions, reporting live on the matches and offering support to their teams. The world cup kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony yesterday followed by South Africa vs Mexico (1-1) and then Uruguay vs France (0-0) But what we are all waiting for is the first England match and I’m looking forward to my first football-watching-in-a-crowded-pub experience! I would say wish me luck (you know amid all the testosterone and beer) but I think its safe to say all of the country’s luck today lies with the England squad! 🙂