Monday, 2 September 2013

Vlog: The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe

"There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm."
- Edgar Allan Poe (Thank you, Matt)


I'm trying to get into vlogging as well as my usual blogging. I literally can not use any video editing software but am going to teach myself.

If you have any requests for vlog topics (or even blog topics) please leave them in my comments section. All suggestions will be considered!


Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions:

  • What is your favourite poem?
  • Who is your favourite poet?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

ALWAYS talk to strangers

I can clearly remember learning all about 'Stranger Danger' when I was about 6 or 7. A stranger was any adult I didn't know. Strangers were scary people who were always coming up with clever and cunning plans to steal me on my walk home from school. Never mind that I didn't ever walk home from school, I was taught that's when they were going to strike! I was so paranoid about strangers - even women, because I was that weird 6 year old who read newspapers and knew all about Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. The first word I remember looking up in a dictionary is 'garotte'.

With this in mind, it's taken me a long time to unlearn the paranoid lesson here and replace it with a sensible approach to life. You see, after moving to the other side of the world, I've learned you should ALWAYS talk to strangers! I don't mean it exactly like it sounds and we should all be running around shouting at each other and trying to engage in conversation with every person we should meet (but Jesus, London! A friendly smile every now and then wouldn't go astray!) But I think the lesson we all need to learn is that (with common sense) we should absolutely not be afraid to talk to strangers!

Just since I have been in London, I have had some amazing adventures with complete strangers!

When I was on my way to Berlin to meet friends from high school, I was travelling alone. My flight left so early that I was actually forced to catch the last bus to the airport and wait until 6.25am when my flight departed. As I arrived at the bus stop, I saw some others with suitcases and asked them if I was at the right stop. A lone girl and a lone guy said I was. When the bus arrived, I started chatting to the girl behind me in line - asking where she was off to. We sat next to each other on the bus and chatted for over an hour. We were both waiting for early morning flights so I asked her if she'd like to set up a camp with me on the floor of the airport. I said I had chocolate and Red Bull and she offered some chips (crisps for my UK friends). As we got off the bus, I stood beside the lone guy from the bus stop. So I told him of our plans and invited him to join us. He eagerly agreed and when we were settled, he bought us all hot chocolates. It was a fun six hours. The girl was able to get some sleep knowing her stuff wouldn't get stolen and the guy and I chatted about Italy and travel. We had breakfast together when the airport shops opened and at 6.25am, I caught my flight leaving behind Roxy and Francesco, my new friends!

Roxy, me and Francesco in Stansted airport

When I arrived in Berlin, I had over 24 hours to spend on my own. I made my way to my hostel and steadfastly refused to sleep and risk wasting a second in this new, amazing city. So I took a bus tour and saw some incredible sights. I had already decided I would be pushing myself so had bought a ticket to the Fun. concert. Stupidly, I misread 2100 as 7pm and arrived two hours early for the show. I joined the queue of excited Fun. fans and kept my ear out for a chance to talk to someone. Sadly, I was thwarted by my lack of a second language as everyone around me spoke German or French so I just waited. And waited.
Finally the gates opened but all people with online tickets had to present their tickets at a booth behind us in the line. The group of girls behind me gathered all their tickets into one pile and passed it to the closest girl who went to hand the whole stack over in one go. On a whim, I tapped one girl on the shoulder and pushed my ticket towards her. "Could you do mine too, please?" I begged. She handed my ticket on to her friend and turned back to me. In very good English she asked me why I was by myself!! Turns out of the three girls, two spoke very good English! The other spoke both French and German. The girls asked if I'd like to watch the concert with them. They shared their Pepsi, held my place while I bought my tour shirt and took photos to pass the time. We had a blast!
They stayed behind to hunt autographs from the band. I was forced to drag my poor body that had been awake for near on 42 hours by then back to the hostel leaving behind Carole-Ann, Lea and Celine, my new friends!

Carole-Ann, me, Lea and Celine at the Fun. concert

In my hostel, Simon, one of my high school friends had finally arrived and after a big day, we were in our bunks resting. A nice guy who was staying in our room started chatting to us and ended up inviting us out for drinks. Well, Simon was too tired but I was determined to have fun. After all...


So we wondered down the road from our hotel chatting. He was Brazilian and had seen quite a few European countries. We traded stories of our adventures and compared notes on our home countries. He bought a round of drinks and I bought the next round. The next day, Andrew, my other friend from high school arrived. Simon and I waved to him from the hostel room window as we saw him approach. Then we decided to hide in the bathroom while the Brazilian pretended to have booked out the whole room for his birthday and convinced Andrew he was in the wrong room. He played the part perfectly and I still laugh thinking about poor, confused Andrew while Simon and I stifled giggles in the bathroom. Then the four of us went out for dinner! It was fantastic, but he had to leave to go to the next country that morning. But when Fred left, we waved goodbye to our new friend!

Andrew, me, Simon and Fred at the hostel bar

The next night everyone from room 505 at the hostel was having drinks. I went downstairs to get something from the room. On my way back up, I noticed the button for calling the down elevator was crooked so I tried to straighten it - accidentally pressing it. When the doors opened for no reason, a  girl was standing there by herself. I apologised for pressing the button. She said it was ok and she was trying to decide if she should go to the bar or the lobby. I said 'the bar! Come on! Come back up with me!' So she did. I have never got along with a girl so quickly and so well. We were chatting about everything and sharing stories. She was American, travelling Europe. I sadly learned she wouldn't be going through London but we swapped Facebook details and hung out all night! I know she will gladly host me in New Jersey and she knows she is welcome in London anytime! My biggest regret of the whole Berlin trip (which will one day be rectified) is I didn't get a photo with Jennifer, my new friend.

Jennifer

Then there is the pinnacle of these stories. The absolute epitome of why you should always welcome a friendly stranger in to your life. Matt, my best friend in all of Europe! All of the Northern hemisphere in fact!

Zombie Marilyn Monroe and Tony Stark

I met Matt in a pub when I was with my brother. The series of little coincidences that lead to our actual meeting is astounding considering how much he has affected my life here in London. As much as falling off my scooter sucked, if I hadn't of I would not have met Matt as I would have been at work that day instead of testing out my recovery with a small day out before returning to work the very next day. We met when he called my brother out for making fun of the way Americans write the date backwards. We started chatting and nearly two hours later, swapped Twitter details. Matt came to visit me after my shift the next day and we went out to London Dungeon the week after. We've pretty much seen each other every week since. I introduced him to football and made him a Liverpool fan and he in turn taught me about baseball and made me a St. Louis Cardinals fan. For Christmas I bought him a Liverpool jersey and he bought me a Cardinals one. I took him to his first EPL game and one day, he will take me to my first MLB game.

Me and Matt at Anfield

When I went to LA last year, he arranged for his sister (who is an incredible girl who I am lucky to call a friend!) to play tour guide for me on my first night alone. We got on so well that I left Disneyland early to spend my last day with her before heading back to London.

Me and Matt's sister Boo in LA

When his sister visited recently, we spent heaps of time together taking in the sights of London.

Matt, me and Boo on the River Thames

Matt asked me to join a co-ed softball team with him and now we play every week. I have in turn made some more amazing friends on the team who I hang out with outside of softball.

Evan, Matt, me, Kieran, Krista, Aneil and Sam
Just some of the Basejumpers softball team!
I've also met Matt's other sister and even his Mum. Matt has hung out with my dad and was even with us when he visited his childhood home for the first time in 50 years. One day soon I am going to go to America and Matt will show me around his parts. I hope he comes to Australia so I can teach him how to throw a boomerang and wrestle his first croc.

I was talking to a friend from my softball team and he seemed shocked to find out how Matt and I met. But without that friendly act nine months ago, I wouldn't have even been having that conversation with a softball teammate. I have had some amazing adventures and these are only some of them. I love my life in London and the people I have met are a huge part of that.

And it's all because I ALWAYS talk to strangers.

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions:
  • Have you had some amazing adventures with strangers?
  • Have you ever made friends with a stranger?
  • Has talking to a stranger ever gone wrong for you?

Friday, 31 May 2013

How to save a life

Oh picture it a little girl just a beautiful eight year old
Trying to live through this life in a crazy world
Years past and one bad move
She finds herself as a teen and her life in ruins
What could have happened if we stopped and took the time
Showed that girl she had meaning and a purpose to life
Maybe avoid that downward slide
Would you tell her the truth?
Or let her live in a lie? 
It all just seems to change
When you see it as a life to save 
So would you save a life, save a life?
If it was do or die
Would you save a soul, save a soul?
Even if it's not your own?
If you're the hands and the arms that reach
Would you save a life from drowning?
-Manic Drive 


I saw her as soon as I walked out of the front door at work. She was young, tiny and skittish. She should not have been out this late on her own. I was on my way from the closing shift at the pub and I had a friend walking me home. She swung around at the sound of our voices, but hurriedly turned away and kept walking. I fell in step behind her and she stole a look, eyes wide and fearful.
"Are you ok?" I asked gently.
"Yes, thank you." And she turned around. Please don't talk to me.
She crossed to the other side of the road. Please don't follow me.
My friend suspected drugs. I suspected mental health problems. Naive? Maybe.
I watched her - tugging at the arms of her jacket - feeling suffocated by her headphones - searching wildly for a direction to walk in.
"Excuse me, can you please tell me where I am?" Not a normal question. I crossed to her side of the road.
"You're in Harrow. Are you sure you're ok?"
"Yes." No.
"Where are you trying to get to?"
"I don't know."
"Well how about a train station? I can get you to a train station. You can walk with us."
I was offering a crust of bread to a small, frightened animal - and hunger got the better of her.
"Yes, please. Are you sure?"
"Of course. What's happened? Why don't you know where you are?"
"I ran away."
"Where from?"
"A & E."
"Why were you there?"
"... I cut myself."
"Oh... I used to cut myself too."
Her eyes snapped up to mine. Searching. She's lying.
"Thank you for not being judgemental."
"Of course I wouldn't judge you. Yeah, I used to cut my wrists. Just to feel something. What did you cut?"
"My arms."
"When?"
"About an hour ago."
"Can I see?"
No.
"Please? I just want to make sure you're ok."
She peels her jacket back. Blood is trickling down her fingers. I see scratches. Shallow, angry, red scratches. There is a tattoo on her wrist and it looks like she has been trying to erase it with something sharp (A protractor? Maybe that was just me.) She will feel a tight burning sensation there - I remember that feeling.
She turns her arms over.
Oh, that's where the blood has been coming from. I can see muscle. Clean slices, inches long, expose her flesh and her pain is oozing from the gaping wounds.
I don't react. Not with my face.
"You need to get those wounds stitched, sweetie." I don't know her name. "Please let me take you to the hospital."
"No, I'm fine. I don't want to go back."
Don't push it. Move on.
"Who was there with you? Didn't you have friends or family with you?"
Friends? Family? "No, they wouldn't let anybody from the ward come over with me."
"The ward?"
"I was on the mental health ward. They were taking me across to A & E but I ran. I don't know why."
"Well we need to get you back - just for the wounds. They're too deep. They won't heal on their own." I don't even know which wounds I am talking about.
"Please, no. I can't go back."
Don't push it. Move on.
"Why not?"
"I've been there for 11 weeks. Some of them are nice, but not all of them."
"Did someone there hurt you?"
"No." I don't know if she's telling me the truth. I've believed everything she's told me but I don't know if this is true.
A police car cruises past. She ducks behind me and emerges on my other side.
"They're looking for me."
"Who?"
Everybody. Nobody. "The police."
"Why?"
"Because I ran away." Are you even listening?
I don't think anyone is looking for her. And that's a reflection on them, not her. She ran. They had one less patient to tend to.
Don't push it. Move on.
"Where are you going to go then?"
"I don't know." She looks up at me. Her eyes search mine. I don't know what she's looking for but she finds it there. "Don't judge me, but I want to jump in front of a train."
I don't react. Not with my face. Again.
"Sweetie, no." I still don't know her name.
"Why not?"
"Because I've been there. I tried. I understand. But if my family & friends let me do it, I wouldn't be here now."
I want to tell her if someone saved me one day when I was alone, my dad would be more grateful than words could express. I wanted to ask her to let me save her - on behalf of someone who loves her very much. But there didn't seem to be a someone.
I tell her about my own suicidal period. She tells me she's glad I'm still here. I tell her I am too. And one day she will feel the same about herself.
"Isn't that the train station there?" Why are we walking past it?
She noticed.
"I can't let you go. I have to take you to the hospital. I promise I'll stay with you." I mean it. "We'll just get your wounds tended to and then we'll leave."
"They won't let me back out. I'll be put back on the ward."
"I'll ask if you can be released back into my care." I don't know if I mean it. I just want her to stop bleeding.
"They won't let you."
"You have to get those wounds closed, sweetie. Please?"
She looks at me again - eyes searching. Is she trying to get rid of me? Or help me?
Don't push it. Move on.
"C'mon, sweetie." I smile and start walking towards the hospital.
It works and she comes with me.

"What is your name?" my friend asks. I've forgotten he is even there.
"Sam."
Now it's my turn to swing around. I stare at her. Why would she lie?
"My name is Sam too!" It's the first time I can remember introducing myself as Sam instead of Samantha.
For a moment we giggle and share this moment. It's like we're having a normal conversation on a normal street. We forget that I am a stranger trying to convince a suicidal runaway from a mental hospital to return to care.
A door slams and she jumps. The moment is lost.
"It's not the police. It's ok. Besides, they're looking for one girl - on her own. You're with us. You're not on your own anymore."
She believes me and looks visibly relieved. She's right. The cops won't find me now.
She looks up at me and smiles. It's a wary, untrusting smile. A jolt runs through me. I realise I read her wrong. She's right. I'm not alone.
She starts telling me about her sister. She died three years ago during an epileptic fit.
I don't know what to say. I ask if this set off her troubles. She says they started before that.
It was the wrong question.

Suddenly she stiffens and stops walking.
"I can't!"
I look up. If we turn this last corner we're at the hospital.
"Please, Sam. You need to get the wounds closed." Which wounds?
She runs across the road to the island in the middle. Her run is stiff and looks painful. She's not going to outrun me. But I'm not going to drag her either.
She turns to face me.
"Please, you don't need to worry about me. I'm fine. I'll go to a friend's house."
"Which friend? I'll come with you. Let me get you somewhere safely. You tell me which friend and I'll take you there."
She looks at her phone. I can see her scrolling through contacts.
"I don't know anyone who will be awake now." The saddest voice. The saddest lie. I don't know anyone who will care.
I don't know if she's right. I hope she's not. But either way, she has nowhere to go.
Then a car comes speeding towards us. She slowly starts back-peddling towards the road.
The train.
She's going to jump.
I can't remember the question I asked her, but she stopped and looked at me. The car passes safely behind her.
She turns and limps across the road.
"Please don't follow me."
"I'm not. I'm coming with you. It's that simple."
She turns and looks at me. Why aren't you going away? I'm pushing. Just leave.
She tries to run. I grab her with one arm and pull her to face me.
"Sam. I'm not letting you go. Please let me help you. I want to take you to the hospital. I can't make you, but I can stay with you. Please."
"No, you don't need to get involved."
"I know how it feels to see no other way but you need to believe me. You aren't meant to feel like that. Let them help you. Let me help you."
I see a car pull up on the other side of the road. It's a police car. I reach an arm out to block her exit - just as she sees the car too. As she looks over, police officers are emerging from the car.
She turns to run - right into my arm. I swing her into me and hold her - careful not to hurt her forearm.
"Nooooooooo."
"Please! Help her! Help me! Help!"
"Nooooooooo."
The way I'm holding her is more like a hug and she is forcing herself deeper into my chest, falling into my embrace. The cops are vaulting the fence now. She realises she's not going anywhere and stops fighting. Now she is hugging me. I hug her back, so tightly. My hand cradles her head. I'm crying.
"I'm sorry, Sam. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, Sam."
The officers pull her from my arms but she is holding on to me. I don't let go of her either.
"We've got her. We've found her." The officer is radioing his colleagues. He radios our location. They were looking for her after all. I'm glad.
She screams. They've grabbed her arm - the wounds. The congealed blood falls away and the wounds reopen with venom.
"Stop! Her arms! Be gentle! She's not running, let her go!"
The officers instruct her to roll back her sleeve. I help her as she winces. Another officer dives in with a medical kit. I help Sam to the ground. He winds a thick bandage around the first part of her arm.
"You. Hold this." he barks, placing my hand on hers, holding a bandage in place.
"I'm sorry, Sam. I'm sorry." I'm still crying.
I can't see her. She's hidden by her hair and has slumped. 
I look up. We are surrounded by at least seven emergency vehicles. Cops are diverting traffic. About 20 people are surrounding us.
But I am here for Sam. I promised.
Her phone and headphones are in the way. I pull them off. It's an iPhone. She had her iPod playing and the last song's album cover art is on the lockscreen.
Who is this girl? What 18 year old listens to the Buffy soundtrack? I can't let her go.
"I am putting my number in your phone."
I try. She has a password on it.
"Sam, what is your password?"
She gives it to me. No pause. She just gives it to me.
They start to bundle her up and move towards the back of one of the police vans.
"Can she come with me?" She reaches towards me.
The officers look at me. I promised her I would stay with her.
They ask Tanya, a social worker.
"Are you her friend?"
Sam is right behind me, two cops helping her into the van. She's co-operating.
I look the social worker straight in the eye.
"Yes."
They put me in the middle part of the police van.  I have her bag over my shoulder. They open the door between us so I can hold her hand.
I see the tattoo on her wrist again.
"What does that say?" I can't make it out through all the deep, red scratches.
"Stay Strong."

We drive to the hospital and I walk with her to the emergency ward.
She is put straight onto the nearest bed.
They close the curtain between us. I need to pee. But I don't move. I take a few steps towards a sink. I need to wash her blood off my hands. But I can't leave her. Even though she can't see me. I promised.
A cop comes to talk to me. He asks me if Sam called me. Did I come to pick her up? I shake my head.
"I only met her tonight."
He asks me the same question rephrased a few different ways. He can't comprehend why I was with her - why I had walked so far and for so long with her?
"Because I've been there."
I ask him if I have to leave and he says no. Then I plead with him - when the time comes that I have to leave her, please make sure she knows I'm being told to go by the hospital or the police. Don't let her think I've abandoned her. He smiles and says he will.
A nurse follows him. She asks me to sign her mental health sanction papers. I do. Under relation, I put friend. I don't know why I don't own up to not knowing her, but I don't.
They leave me. My friend is still with me. I hadn't really noticed.

I realise I still have her bag on my shoulder. It's so light. What does someone like her have in her bag? I want to know who she is and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I looked.
Her phone. A red lipstick. A ventalin spray.
I see a bundled up wad of paper. It looks old. It's a folded up booklet.
I flip it to see the cover. A cry is choked in my throat.
Her sister's funeral booklet. It's from early 2010. It's dog eared and dirty. She has carried it with her everywhere. For three years. Since she was 15.
"Ok, Sam. We're going to have to take you back to the ward now."
I bury the booklet back in her back and arrange my face into a smile.

She comes around the curtain and her face is shocked. She's still here. Why hasn't she left me?
"I promised you I would stay."
I reach out and she falls under my arm. The police officer lets me walk with her to the ambulance that will transfer her back to the mental health unit.
I hold my arm around her. I am trying to make her feel safe. But I am also making sure she doesn't run again.
It's not an ambulance. It's the police van again. My heart sinks. They bundle her into the back again.
I go to make my way to the middle section again but the door is slammed before I get there.
A nurse tells me they have my details and will call me to update me on her condition. Ok.
She tells me I can then advise the rest of her family on her situation. Oh no.
I confess. I only just met her tonight!
She looks at me and then looks at the paperwork. I don't know if she's annoyed or confused. Maybe both.
"Well we have your phone number. If she wants to contact you, we can give it to her."
I tell her to remind Sam I put my number in her phone.
I stand there, stunned. I didn't get to say goodbye.
Then a police officer comes around the back of the van.
"She's asking for you."
And he slides the door open.
I dive in and wrap my arms around her.
"I can't go any further with you. I'm sorry. I just wanted to help you. You'll get better. And when you do, you'll realise how wonderful it is to be here, I promise." I kiss her on the forehead. "Now promise me you will get better."
She looks at me and smiles.
I hold her cheek in my hand.
"You're very brave."

The door between us slams shut and the police van takes her away. She's alone again.
And I break down. Sharp wracking sobs rip through me until my chest hurts.
I wail about being 18. And her name being Sam. And Buffy. And losing her sister at 15. None of it makes sense, but I can't stop crying all the same.
We can't get back inside the hospital. Staff only entrance. So we walk down the hospital ramp.
Suddenly my phone rings. The nice police officer offers us a lift home.
I gladly accept.
At my door he shakes my hand. He promises to come into our pub soon. I hope he does.  He tells me I did something very few other people would do. This breaks my heart.
It's 2am. I collapse into bed, sobbing. I look down and realise I have Sam's blood on my shirt.

A few minutes later, I received a text message.


Dad told me that I may not be able to save her. But I gave her one more day. One more chance. And all I can do is hope that it's enough. And one day, we can look back on how we met and where she is now - and we will both be thankful for it.

Miss SAMawdsley xx

UPDATE: She texted me telling me she is feeling better today. I am hoping to get up to the ward to visit her soon.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Sassy's Dating Dictionary

I'm currently sitting on my bed, wearing ugg boots & a hoodie, eating my third donut & watching Dawson's Creek - so maybe I'm the last person who should be writing about dating, but here I am anyway.

I'm not the most experienced dater. I was in a long term relationship that had its beginnings in high school. I rebounded from that into a relationship in university that ended violently. Physically violently. Back to the high school boyfriend and, other than a few hiccups, off periods and frogs along the way, I was with him until 2010. We even bought a house together. Since that long term relationship ended, I've only called one other person my boyfriend.

Now that I am dating, I have found myself stumbling through a veritable minefield of mistakes that a single girl can make. These vary from making assumptions about the guy's intentions, failing to define things and not knowing how to extricate myself from situations that are probably my own unwitting doing. And boy, have I had some adventures! The simple truth is, I have no idea what I'm doing!



Have you heard the saying "You don't know what you don't know"? That's very true. I didn't know that I didn't know how to date until I tried to do it. But the thing is, I'm not sure anyone actually does! Because there are certain words that apply when you are dating - terms that you will use throughout the course of your budding relationship - and nobody knows what the hell they actually mean! The meanings people can apply to the same words is so ambiguous. Two people can mutually agree on a term, and that's fine, but more often than not, their interpretation of that term is not even in the same sport, let alone ballpark. So I am going to define them, here and now. And this will be the universal truth that these terms actually mean.



From single to boyfriend / girlfriend

Single: This means you do not have a boyfriend or girlfriend. You may or may not be open to the idea of potentially having one, but you will be upfront about this. Every person who may be interested in having you as a boyfriend / girlfriend will be aware of your feelings on this subject as you will have been clear with them. But if you are not content to be in this state, do not proceed to the next one! This is very important!


A date: 'A first date' shall be defined as the initial scheduled meeting of two people who are basically auditioning each other to be a steady sexual partner with emotional investments; and a view to carry out said arrangement on a permanent basis and potentially co-habit and maybe even procreate while sharing a surname.

There will be certain indicators that you are on a date. Most, if not all, of these will apply.

  • You will have paid careful attention to what you are wearing, what you smell like, how smooth your legs are / face is and will specifically avoid talking about topics such as exes, crazy penchants and weird medical histories.
  • You will be nervous about who pays for what on this occasion and it will inevitably lead to a bit of a debate. You will judge the other person based on the viewpoints shared and eventual outcome of this debate.
  • You will make a huge effort to be engaging, witty and delightful in the presence of the other person.
  • You will be hoping the other person kisses you.
  • You will be eager to tell someone (probably a member of the same sex) about whatever transpires. Depending on your gender, there will probably be either giggling or high fives. Maybe even both. Who am I to judge?
  • If it goes well, you will want to do it all over again. Note: If you do repeat this with the same person, it will be called 'a second date'.

If you find yourself scheduling something that looks like this, stop looking like a tool or a complete try-hard and call it by its correct name! It's a date. Suck it up. If it's not a date, do not expect anything that even remotely resembles sex to ever eventuate. You lost that privilege when you refused the term 'date'.


Dating: After going on more than three 'dates', you will be deemed to be dating. Counting the dates out loud after this point is a bit weird, but note that you still need to mentally keep a tally of the dates.

'Dating' means you have an unspoken agreement that you will go on another 'date' and usually comes into play after the third date is mutually agreed to have been pleasant for both parties. Spending time together is becoming less nerve-wracking and you are starting to settle into being yourself but you are still considering your options. You may be dating more than one person at this time - but this is the last chance to do so if you are to progress further with this person.


Seeing someone: That mental tally of dates you have been keeping but not really talking about anymore? When that number has reached eight, you stop saying 'dating' and now refer to 'seeing someone'. If you have lost count, use this cheat: If your first date was over two months ago but you have seen each other regularly in the interim, you should now be using the term 'seeing someone'.

The term 'seeing someone' can be broken down rather simply. You are 'seeing', as in regularly viewing (perhaps in varying states of undress), one person. Note the 'one'? As in singular? You should only reach this benchmark with one person at a time. Note: If you do not wish to proceed to the 'seeing someone' stage, stop the 'seeing' part. This will avoid confusion for both parties.


Relationship: There will come a point during the period of 'seeing someone' that you decide that you have been exponentially satisfied with the previous months. This one person has started to spend time at your house and vice versa, rather than always on neutral ground such as a cinema or a restaurant. It's not awkward if they stay overnight. You've met some of their friends. There are starting to be expectations born from precedents set out over the last few months. If you don't have specific plans on a Saturday night, it is assumed you will spend it together. If they come over yours in the evening, you now expect that they will stay the night. And things would probably be easier if you could leave a spare toothbrush on their bathroom sink.

You are now about to be in a 'relationship' and should soon start using this term. If more than four months have passed since that 'first date', you need to immediately have a discussion with the other person. Especially if you are the guy. This is like the probationary period at a new job. You were expected to carry out your duties and showed up to work on time. But an evaluation still needs to be conducted with a manager before you become a fully-fledged employee. Your individual reviews and expectations will be laid out and a decision whether or not the arrangement is mutually beneficial will be agreed upon. If the outcome is in the affirmative, you have reached the level of 'relationship'.

Anecdote: I haven't had many official boyfriends - and hardly any in my adult life - but my favourite beginning of an official would have to be my most recent ex. I was driving to his house from his friend's. He was in the passenger seat and suddenly said, "If we were officially in a relationship, other than our relationship status on Facebook, would anything really change?" I thought for a moment before replying, "No, not really." "Cool," he said. "Let's do that then." See? It doesn't have to be a giant stress.


Boyfriend / girlfriend: Now that you are in a relationship, you can finally use the terms 'boyfriend and / or girlfriend'. You may only have one of these at a time! I cannot stress this enough. This is the holy grail of the dating experience. By this point, if you both aren't happy to use these terms, get out now! You are wasting the time of the other person and that is absolutely not fair. Other than that, it is like playing Monopoly but all the properties have been bought. Everything else is either by negotiation or just runs its course. And who knows how or when it will end?


Miscellaneous terms

Going out: This means you are 15. And in high school. You have never actually gone out anywhere at all but you are free to use the term boyfriend and girlfriend. You will also have written their name all over your student diary surrounded by love-hearts. And this will be in whiteout since it's the only way to see anything written over the permanent marker you used to scribble out the name of the last person you were 'going out' with.


Catch up: I use the term 'catch up' a lot. I live overseas and with a huge time difference, it is so hard to keep up to date with the people I love the most. I'll text my girlfriend, "OMG! haven't chatted to you in ages! We need to catch up!" Because 'catch up' means to run over everything that has happened since I last saw / spoke to someone. So why have guys (And I definitively use the plural) texted me suggesting we should catch up?

This outburst was prompted by an arrangement of what should have been called "a first date": 
Well 15 hours later he texted me and we arranged to "catch up" tonight - my first available night thanks to working all the time. But what does that even mean, "Catch up"? Catch up on what? Everything that happened since last Wednesday? Or maybe the last 27 years when we hadn't known the other existed? "I was born in 1985, on a warm Spring morning..." What a stupid thing to say.
From now on, if a guy asks to "catch up" I'm going to assume he has gossip for me and subsequently has no interest in me as a female.


So there you have my no-nonsense dating dictionary. Now if we can all agree to stick to these definitions, it would make life easier for everybody involved!

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions:
  • Do you agree with my definitions?
  • What dating terms do you need defined?
  • Has the ambiguity of dating terms ever caused you confusion or heartache?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Making time to be bored

Note: I am still working on Part 2 of 'Disneyland & this semi-charmed kind of life...'

When was the last time you were bored? I mean mind-numbingly, kick-the-dirt, nothing-to-do bored?

I am so bored right now...
I can't exactly remember my last time, but I know it was in 2009. This is because I got my first iPhone in August of 2009 and I haven't truly been bored since. With constant internet access, there is always something to do - even if it is just refreshing my Twitter timeline. "Bored" has now taken on a new meaning. I will do something pointless just to avoid feeling bored - even though the "something pointless" is boring! I just feel better that I am doing any menial task. In fact, I clearly remember waiting in line at Subway sometime in 2010 and thinking to myself that I needed to follow more people on Twitter because my timeline wasn't updating quick enough. I also once spent late nights trawling through interesting hashtags to find cool people in England or America to follow so that they would be tweeting while the rest of my Australian Twitter feed was sleeping and my timeline got slow. I not only actively avoided being bored, I took precautions to ensure I would not be bored in the future.

Lately, I've decided that I need to stop being entertained 24/7. I just don't need it. Instead of seeking entertainment, I think. Remember thinking? Just letting your thoughts run? Sometimes I word text messages to people that I will never send. Sometimes I sing lyrics. Sometimes I replay conversations. Sometimes I ponder my life.

Yes, it is often boring and being bored is not something people normally actively seek. That is the point. But it can also be liberating. Do you know how many times I have had epiphanies while bored? The time spent thinking when you're bored is different to that time just before you fall asleep. Your mind is clearer, your inner voice a lot more audible and your logic a little more attuned. It is when I am bored that I come to conclusions such as, "In all actuality, he didn't text me once between when he asked me on a date and when he texted on the day to confirm. But I never doubted how much he liked me back then. Nothing has changed. He just doesn't text that much." This was a nagging thought that had bothered me for days and in a moment of being utterly bored, the answer suddenly came to me. It has [sadly] reduced my stress levels!

In a life where we are so connected, I have decided that there are moments when I can just turn off and de-stress. I plan to take advantage of this. Relish it, even. Of course, it is a sign of the times that this doesn't ever mean being uncontactable. For me, that would be counter-productive as I would stress more - imagining crazy, elaborate emergency scenarios in which lives would be lost because I didn't answer a call or read a text message. My phone even sits on the sink while I shower. But I am going to continue to withdraw myself from constant entertainment, and this is how.

* I used to have a TV & DVD player in my bathroom. I would watch episodes of Buffy in the bath. Before that, I would always read a book in the bath. Even in a shower, I would play music and dance. It's fun, but you miss out on being bored. So I am now having showers and baths sans-music or without placing my laptop on the floor.

* When I walk somewhere, I am no longer taking my iPod as a default. It is reserved for long periods only. The 45 minute journey to meet my friend on the other side of London meets my requirements. My 15 minute walk to work does not. Instead, I walk and let the sounds of traffic and birds blend into a melodic hum - the soundtrack of life. Real life. While music may not be as much of a boredom-killer as screwing around on an iPhone, it can detract from thoughts. "Should I look for a new job? What do I want out of life? Maybe I could... Oh my God! I love this song! This is my jam!"

* When I am waiting for something like an appointment or a friend, I try not to check my iPhone constantly anymore. With Twitter and Facebook in my pocket, I can always find someone online to talk to - something else to think about - a news story or blog post to read. But I don't need to. At least, I shouldn't need to. Today, my friend was running late. Having my iPhone allowed me to get the text message telling me as much and that was great. So I sat in a coffee shop to wait. But after sending two or three tweets and posting a redundant picture to Instagram (nobody cares what my hot chocolate and piece of carrot cake looked like!), I decided to just sit. I put my phone on the table in front of me and I just stared vacantly out of the window. Thinking. I thought about the last time my friend and I hung out. I thought about what we would do today. I thought about some things I hadn't told him and would bring up in conversation through the day. And when he did arrive, I was in such a good mood and so happy to see him. All because I was bored.

I am ok just to sit and do nothing...
With all these life / mindset changing epiphanies and mood enhancements, I am actually starting to rather enjoy being bored. Perhaps you should give it a try next time you reach for your smart phone just because you're "bored".

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions:

  • When was the last time you were truly bored?
  • What do you do to actively alleviate boredom?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Disneyland & this semi-charmed kind of life... Part 1

"Ok, kids. What do you want to do tomorrow?" Dad would ask.
"Go to Disneyland!" I'd shout.
Everyone laughed, knowing that it would never happen. But it was always fun to dream. And we'd end up going to the pool, or a car event. But as the self-proclaimed "Happiest place on Earth", it was my dream (and the dream of every kid on the planet, I imagine) to go to Disneyland.

My younger cousins have been going on almost annual trips to America for years. Of course, this always includes Disneyland in California (or Disney World in Florida). I love them to pieces but words cannot adequately express my jealousy. It ached deep inside of me. It highlighted everything that sucked about growing up in a financially poor, single parent family.

My Dad worked hard and my brother and I never went without. In fact, we were discussing last weekend how Dad did everything he could for us, including paying for flying lessons for my brother to help him achieve his dream of joining the Air Force. He also saved up for me to have SCUBA diving lessons to achieve my (never realised) dream of becoming a marine biologist, even though the plan never eventuated when I instead failed the dive medical and ended up enduring months of hospital visits. All this when, in all actuality, anything beyond food on the table, a roof above our heads, clothes on our backs and fuel in the car, were pretty much luxuries.

But there was still a part of me that felt a sharp sting of jealousy whenever I saw photos of my cousins' trips to Disneyland. I think as a child, and then a teenager, it was only natural. There were so many framed photos on their walls and their faces, so happy, yet unaffected by the sheer fortune of their situation, smiled at me. The Disney characters all kids can name hugged them tightly. I asked them questions about Disneyland and they told me stories of breakfasts with Disney stars, wild rides with crazy special effects and breath-taking shows. They showed me their signature books and I read off the names of Disney royalty whose pens had scrawled so beautifully across the pages. They showed me their pin collections and I learned about Disney pin trading. To think people did this as a hobby was astounding. They brought me back my own souvenirs and I marvelled that they were from Disneyland - really from Disneyland! Funnily enough, they never got me my own pair of Mickey ears. As I got older, the sparkle and fantasy started to wear off. A new jealousy struck me. I would never... never... experience Disneyland through the eyes of a child like they had - like so many other children had. But as is my way, a childlike spark in me never gave up on the pure wonderment and magic that is Disneyland and I continued to view it as the "Happiest place on Earth" - not just for children, but for me too!

For me, Disneyland was a pair of personalised Mickey Mouse ears perched on your head. It was a half an hour wait to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. It was posing with Alice and asking her to sign your autograph book. It was eating cupcakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse. It was finding the hidden Mickey on every ride. It was staring up at Cinderella's Castle and imagining being a real princess. It was laughing at the ridiculous face you pulled when you looked at the photo taken somewhere in the darkness on Space Mountain. It was staring in wide-eyed amazement at thrilling stage shows, breath-taking light and water spectaculars and seemingly impromptu entertainment on every street corner. It was waving at every Disney princess as she passed by in the Disney parade. It was hugging Mickey Mouse. It was wondering through aisles of merchandise and picking the few items you simply could not live without. It was hugging the people near you because they were there, you were happy and one day, they might not be there. It was taking silly photos, candid photos, posed photos. It was days spent smiling - where nobody argued or bickered. It was... magical.

Sometimes it scares me how charmed my life is. There are moments that the cataclysmic scale of coincidence, luck and fortune collide to alter my world in such a way that it takes my breath away and has even, at times, reduced me to tears. I am blessed and I know it. The day in November last year when my Dad said "Can you get time off in early December?" was one of them. I asked why, as I was in London and had only recently started a new job. I was confused as I knew Dad would be in America with my uncle, aunty and cousins and couldn't understand what I could need time off for. His response floored me.

"I thought you might like to come meet us in California and come to Disneyland with us..?"

“Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn - and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young-in-heart, to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”
-Walt Disney


To be continued...

Miss SAMawdsley xx

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Why isn't my life a romantic comedy?

I was raised by my dad and my brother so I've not really done many girly girl things. As the only female in the family, I kind of felt I needed to assimilate or die. So I am more comfortable driving a manual car than baking a cake. I've changed my own oil in my car but I have never changed a baby's nappy. I'm deadly accurate with a gun but I fail miserably at make up. These masculine tendencies extend to my film habits. I've honestly never seen 'Dirty Dancing' but I did cry at the end of 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day'. That pretty much sums up what I'm saying here.

I've never been one for romantic comedies. But now I have a sister (in-law) and I'm starting to feel a bit more at peace with the fact that I am a girl and it's ok to hope a man will sweep me off my feet, despite my awkward, unlucky-in-love nature. I'm allowed to think Vivian Ward (Pretty Woman) is just as awesome as John McClane (Die Hard). (But I will never, ever accept the message that Sandy Olsen sells females! Honestly, do women actually watch 'Grease' and realise how she gets the man in the end? By stultifying herself and smoking!)

Tonight my sister and I watched a movie called 'New in Town' starring the super gorgeous chick flick staple, Renée Zellweger. She moves to a new town for some work and some guy who she seems to fight with more than she flirts with ends up being the love of her life. And it got me thinking, why doesn't that happen to me?


I'm a waitress just like Julia Sullivan (The Wedding Singer) but no oddly handsome singer who lacks self-confidence but makes up for it with a guitar has ever serenaded me on a plane. A guy did write a song for me once. But he recorded it onto CD, with a piano-keyboard backing track and him playing guitar... It was called 'Fire' but I didn't really get the lyrics. It wasn't on a plane. And Billy Idol wasn't there.

In high school, I may not have worn glasses and a ponytail and had *gasp* paint on my overalls, like Laney Boggs (She's All That) but I did wear pigtails every day for a year and weird cartoon character socks. I also made my own jewellery out of wool and beads, which is kind of like making my own prom dress, à la Andy Walsh in Pretty in Pink. The dreamy quarterback never realised I was actually quirky and pretty with a beautiful soul... Maybe it's because I went to school in Australia and there was no quarterback (and I'm not sure I'd describe any guy I went to school with as 'dreamy' anyway.) Or maybe it's because my life isn't a romantic comedy.

I have been a journalist just like Rebecca Bloomwood (Confessions of a Shopaholic), Andie Anderson (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones's Diary), Jenna Rink (Suddenly 30), Josie Geller (Never Been Kissed) and the poster girl for journalism and love, Carrie Bradshaw (Sex & The City). But I have not had even one date thanks to my journalism. Not one. Let alone met the love of my life in hilariously unlikely circumstances.

I currently have blue hair like Ramona Flowers (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). It's not a stretch to compare my scooter to Ramona's rollerblades. I could probably even muster up seven exes, if I included high school and despite the fact that I did break up with most (if not all) of them, I don't think they'd fight some guy so he could prove his love for me. They've moved on. And in the interim, no adorably dorky geek has had a prophetic dream about the awesomeness that is me. Though honestly, I'd prefer if Young Neil fell in love with me anyway.


I'm comically accident-prone, just like Cam Wexler in 'Good Luck Chuck' but no gorgeous Dane Cook look-alike has ever suddenly declared me his one true love. Remember my most recent first non-date? If you've not read this post, you can't possibly understand just how unlucky and clumsy I really am. But rather than being endearingly cute and charming, I fear I am seen as a hazard and threat to life and limb.

Why, oh why can't my life be like a romantic comedy? My life can and does often resemble a comedy. Perhaps a comedy slash tragedy. But it's not romantic. There's no romantic comedy that my life mirrors or holds parallels with.

Oh, wait. Yes there is. 'He's Just Not That Into You'. And I'm Gigi.

"Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. If a guy punches you he likes you. Never try to trim your own bangs and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, Every story we're told implores us to wait for it, the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. 
But sometimes we're so focused on finding our happy ending we don't learn how to read the signs. How to tell from the ones who want us and the ones who don't, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn't include a guy, maybe... it's you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is... just... moving on. 
Or maybe the happy ending is this, knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope."
Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions:
  • Does your life, or the life of someone you know, resemble a romantic comedy?
  • If you're life was a movie, which one would it be?