Smiles and Fleeting Impressions.

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I had a ‘moment’ the other day, I feel it might be too much to call it an epiphany – let’s just say I came to a realisation.

I don’t smile enough. I’m not Mrs. Grumpy a Pants either, but my neutral face is… Neutral? Bored looking I suppose. Sometimes very intense and serious so my Mother tells me.

It’s not a super exciting topic for a blog post I suppose, but I think I’ve made it pretty clear from the outset that I am a nineteen year old girl who works at a bookshop. If you were expecting more than a few sporadic posts featuring droll recounts of embarrassing incidents and running commentary of awkward and intense over-analysing of EVERYTHING in life, I’m afraid you are very lost.

So yes, if you’ve read up to here you’re probably wondering what it was that made me come to the realisation that I don’t smile enough. In summary, I was watching a video that had a part in which a lovely chorus were singing. The singing was great and everyone looked pretty chuffed that they were so note perfect, but there was this one guy who looked like he was having a ball! There were intervals between singing and in those moments the camera would zoom in so the conductor was mid-frame. At first I was paying attention to the conductor, because he was mid-frame duh. However my focus began to shift to the guy who was standing basically in the middle of the first row, just behind the choir conductor. You could only see the bottom half of his face but that was all you needed to really see to keep you distracted for the whole of the interval. He had this smile that just lit up the screen. The thing about his smile was that it was so very natural, it was as though he had so much happiness in his being that he simply could not contain it within himself so he just beamed from ear to ear.

Later when they started singing again, I kept an eye on Mr. Smiley in particular and saw that even whilst singing, he was still smiling. It was one of those smiles you see before someone cracks up, like when you’re super embarrassed to be singing karaoke because you hate it but were forced, so you’re trying to sound half-decent but you don’t want to sound like you’re trying too hard but your friend keeps singing loudly and way off-tune just to make you laugh but you’re obviously trying to contain yourself… Ahem, I’m sure everyone can relate…

The point is. I’m a pretty happy person. Not because I’m particularly cheerful (my mother can vouch for that) but because I’ve been blessed enough to have a pretty decent life! Smiles are universally recognised as a happy thing so I feel I should do it more so people can see how I’m feeling, even when I’m not talking to someone or thinking about an amusing anecdote. My ‘normal’ face should have a smile, because not everyone has that luxury of being content. If I’m privileged enough to be able to smile honestly, I should do so and hopefully be able to bring everyone around me a teensy bit of joy when they walk past me and see me smiling at everyone and everything.

I feel like my generation of peeps are so very ignorant of many things, in particular social etiquette and communication. Because of this, our elders always remind us of the importance of first impressions and how we need to come across as warm and friendly at job interviews and social gatherings and other things. Of course, first impressions are important, but something nice to think about is that there are a countless number of individuals who we will never properly ‘meet’. These are the people who you will walk past in shopping centres, line up behind in toilet queues and brush up awkwardly against on public transport. In these situations, you only get to make fleeting impressions. Sure I may never see them again, maybe I’ll never even get to the point of exchanging any words with them at all; but wouldn’t I like to be remembered – if only for a second in a fuzzy, candid shot in someone’s mind’s eye – as ‘that happy looking girl who was cleaning the shelves in the bookshop’? Yep. I totes do. 🙂

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I got my first ever job back in August through a reference from a family friend to a bookshop owner. Needless to say I got the job after being trained for about a month. Around the world I’m sure people are getting their first jobs every minute of the day so it isn’t that interesting a topic of conversation, but for me – a girl starting to find her way in the world – this job was a big deal. This job signified the beginning of me actually becoming an adult. This realisation scared me senseless.

I started up this blog with the intention of maintaining my writing skill, improving it even, but I hadn’t a clue as to what direction I wanted to take it in. I sort of just wrote about whatever I felt like which is what a lot of bloggers do and is what works for them. Me? Not so much. I’m a pretty airy-fairy kind of person already so for me to actually accomplish anything, I need to have a structure or theme to keep me in check and on track.

After much thought and deliberation I decided I wanted to continue blogging, and not in the way I have been doing just jumping around everywhere. I needed a theme, something that linked all my posts together. Lots of blogs I read centre around a hobby or are a glimpse into a person’s creative work, things I can’t really write about because I haven’t really done anything…

Then it hit me. I haven’t done anything. I’m a young, naive, inexperienced person who is trying to work out how to be an adult. If I were in a book it would be a Bildungsroman/Coming-of-age novel. If I were a character part it would be a gauche and ignorant ingenue. Since I’ve started working I have experienced many moments where I have wanted to slap myself in the face because of my own stupidity. I have dealt with so many situations so gracelessly and faced much distress from the ensuing awkwardness because of my faux pas. I am the least suitable person to be giving advice to anyone about anything which is why I feel like in this blog I will be doing exactly that. Confused?

I propose to use this blog to recount amusing anecdotes, vent my frustrations but also give out my honest and humble opinions on how to best handle unfamiliar ‘grown up’ situations as I face them myself. For those who are older and wiser, or perhaps are simply just less sheltered than me; I expect you to find my blog quite silly, but hopefully in a good way! For those in the same situation as me aka: ignorant teen who is scared of responsibility – I hope you find solace in knowing that yes, “there is somebody out there who is as clueless as me and who isn’t scared to admit it!”

I need to think of a sign off or something… See ya.

Summer: Cynthia

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He remembered the first time he’d laid eyes on her. She had worn a floppy sun hat which almost blended into her fuzzy, straw-coloured hair and was quite attractively slumped against a rock wall.
Her eyes were squinting hard out at the beach which was swarming with activity. It was the beginning of Summer and everyone always had the same idea to come early so as to beat the crowd, it never worked of course, but it gave strangers something to complain to one another about.

“Awfully crowded isn’t it?”

The girl had drawled the words out in a hushed contralto. She sounded older than she looked.

“Yes.”

He felt a little stupid at not knowing how to add on to such an overworked question which was more of a statement than anything.

After a few more moments of silence she slowly turned her head to face his. It was then that he realised she was only a child. Not like he was a mature man really, (although, twenty is quite old in a way) but she had such a baby face he was sure she’d only be his age at most. She was staring at him in an inquisitive sort of way, as though she’d not expected to see him there even though she had just spoken to him about a minute ago.

“You’re new.”

She said it in the same low, sultry voice which contradicted her youthful face whilst peering at him through heavy lidded eyes.

To this comment he simply shrugged his shoulders and gave her a lopsided smile. After a pause he replied with a non-committal “I guess.”

He didn’t quite know how, but by the end of the night, he was sure that he was in love with this strange but enchanting girl. Her name was Cynthia. He found this out, not from the subject herself but from one of his non-descript, old school acquaintances whom he vaguely recalled ever knowing.

“She’s a flapper if I ever saw one!”

Allan Newport had made the statement with a vigorous shake of his head which would have misled anyone into believing that he was an intimate acquaintance of the young girl in question.

“Know her well then?”

“Don’t need to. She’s got a reputation you know, popular. Been going around to parties since she was sixteen! Quite the little scandal!”

“She doesn’t seem the party type. Quite lazy-looking actually.”

Allan proceeded to slap him on the back. He found the man was getting on his nerves, there hadn’t been a single social interaction he had made tonight which hadn’t come straight out of a book.

“Ahhh. But that’s just it you see! She almost never dances, always sits in the front of the room all slumped but always gorgeous and made up like a fashion plate. She doesn’t need to prance around for attention. She knows she can get it without all that.”

He said it all with exaggerated gestures and with a wave of his hand he promptly excused himself to pursue another old school chum.

For the rest of the night he stood in the corner and observed her. Allan had been right. She never had to ask for attention, she commanded it. She was pretty, with her heavy-lidded cornflower eyes and luxuriously tanned skin, but it was more than that. It was the atmosphere that she brought with her everywhere. She hardly ever danced, or participated in games or anything, she was simply always playing hostess. Always in the middle of activity and excitement, but never a part of it.

The summer was spent with him beside her always. They never talked much, there were no organised dates and some days they wouldn’t even make eye contact. Cynthia was Cynthia. She was never pushy, or acted as though she missed you or was ever bored. He enjoyed this casual arrangement because he was young and determined to be complacent.

The same things were done everyday, like a sacred ritual. A late brunch always took place on the balcony of her villa, which overlooked the beach. A quick swim, or in her case, float would be necessary because:

“The water is too deliciously inviting. We simply MUST.”

The rest of the day would drag out slowly. The sun seemed to shine brighter and stay in the sky for longer for Cynthia’s pure enjoyment. They would drink cocktails and lay idly about doing absolutely nothing. Dinner parties and dances came about in a regular cycle, a routine which became so ordinary that no-one could really remember the week each day for day, instead seeing the whole season as one long, amorphous haze of youthful indulgence.

He thought back to that fateful night before the end of his holiday. As the last of the revellers stumbled back to their apartments, Cynthia sat ceremoniously slumped against the cool plaster wall next to the open bar. He had been feeling mysteriously peeved all night. Confused by his feelings for Cynthia – if indeed there were any – he had not been inclined to be as attached to her as usual. He had actually tried to be active and make new friends as well as dance with a few girls who he pitied had been passed over for the wilder, more boisterous girls around.

By the end of the evening, he had managed to pin down that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach as being restlessness. He hated to admit that his Grandmother had been right, but she had been right in saying one could have “too much fun.” A whole summer’s worth of relaxation had left him feeling useless and slow.
Tomorrow he would begin his trip back to school where there would be a ridiculous amount of catching up to do if he meant to to pass his exams.

It was then that he realised that Cynthia had not come up in his stream of thoughts at all so far, that he wondered if he should talk to her – but what of? They had been on each other’s arm for most of the season, there had been obvious and careless flirtation on both sides, but what more? Nothing of solidarity. As he looked at her through the large windows, her fluid figure loose and relaxed against the wall, he doubted if their relationship was anything at all. He felt no hurting of his heart or concern for her. He knew she must feel the way he did. It finally dawned on him that he was most probably one in a long line of other ‘friends’ she had entertained for the holidays.

The next morning, after packing his bags and sending off a few late letters, he contemplated showing up at her door and saying goodbye. In the end he figured a note would do and wrote one as short, vague and distant as he felt their relationship was to him.
Folded in half and tucked under her villa door, Cynthia found the missive before leaving to go for her usual morning dip.

‘Thanks for a swell holiday.’

Your Friend for the Summer.

The Fruits of Labour.

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YES. It has finally happened and I have a job! Yeah, yeah it was bound to happen sooner or later and everyone has a job big deal! To me though, there were so many times where I felt so sick of feeling dependent on my parents and stuck in that grey area between adolescent and adult. I’ve only technically got a trial at a bookshop, but I’m fairly sure it means something because in between little jumps and mental fist pumps I heard the bookshop owner say the word “induction”. Whatever. Even if this ends up turning into nothing, it’s the boost I needed and I’m feeling a lot more positive about life in general!

In other news, I have been quite busy squirrelling away at my writing. I missed a week posting last week but it’s because of another little project I’ve been working on. I’ve just begun contributing to an online music magazine called http://hhhhappy.com and here is my first little article: http://hhhhappy.com/2014/06/27/the-soorleys/

So, change is in the air and I’m feeling quite optimistic and excited about things that are happening and things to come. I’ll try to keep regular with posting and be more creative with what I’m writing. I’ve got some pretty little ideas but trying to make those ideas sound as good on paper as they do in my head is a bit of a challenge. No picture today because I’m not bothered, I have linked some things though so let’s be content with that.

Fashion & Beauty

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I have decided to try and write about a lot of different things in order to keep things ‘fresh’ and ‘cool’. Or, because I’m scared I’ll get boring and just stay in my comfort zone all the time.

So, this post is dedicated to my love of fashion. Yes it may sound terribly frivolous, but I am a girl and I do love things that are pretty. The fear I have with beauty/fashion blogging is that I’ll either come across as an air-headed superficial diva, or I’ll be quite sheepish and embarrassed in my tone. Of course I know that there is no shame in caring and sharing your opinions on clothing, far from it; I take dress and grooming quite seriously- but as a nineteen-year-old with no money, job or experience it does seem like a task best left to the expert couturiers and stylists. Anyways, enough of my childish insecurities. Here are some pretty photos with commentary.

 

Audrey

Audrey is every girl’s inspiration, fashion and otherwise and though I could list off a million reasons why she is so awesome; I’ll stick to why she inspires me in terms of fashion and beauty. Simply put, Audrey could wear couture or an old sweater and look equally amazing both ways. Always UNDERSTATED and ELEGANT, Audrey made the clothes work for her.

 

Taylor

 

Taylor Swift is kind of a hot topic and people have opinions of her. I personally love her for music reasons and personality reasons but here we are focusing on fashion and beauty reasons. I love that Taylor always knows when and how to change up her style as she grows up, and I admire her classiness in a world where that is becoming a rare and ‘outmoded’ thing. Also the girl has the SHINIEST hair and OWNS the red lip.

 

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I am pretty hopeless with making my hair look presentable in any way, but it is a long-term dream of mine to master the art of pin-curling and finger waving. Vintage hair-styling is just so amazing, and I don’t even know how women managed to look FABULOUS all the time whilst fighting chauvinism.

 

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Alannah Hill is one of the few Australian designer brands which makes me drool! All GIRLINESS, ruffles, lace and flowers AH makes deliciously FEMININE clothing and accessories which are good enough to eat!

 

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My favourite perfume. Christian Dior is probably my favourite couture brand but I’ll probably never be able to buy Dior anything except fragrances and makeup if I scrimp and save! Dior is such an INDULGENT and EXTRAVAGANT brand which I feel represents femininity itself.

 

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To a beauty newb like me, Lisa Eldridge with her DECADES of make-up experience is a saviour! What I love is that she is already a HUGELY famous make-up artist who has celebrity clients and must be so busy, but she sets aside time to make youtube videos to teach us poor newbs who will never be able to afford a professional make-up artist to make us look perfect all the time!

Ok, I could go on forever but this is already a long post so I’m going to stop. Also, I don’t like the look of this post. I feel weird, beauty blogging is definitely NOT my strong point…

Projects and Grown-up Stuff.

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A couple of things have been happening to me lately, namely the whole tiresome business of growing-up and having to actually do grown-up things like finding a job which involves many applications and interviews and in my case at least, some undignified grovelling…

 

On another much happier note, I am trying to expand my horizons and challenge myself through my writing. Just this month I have been involved in a very sweet little project known as http://www.theforgottenbookshelf.com/ which is a little website/blog where you can discover literature which is ‘forgotten’ in many senses of the word. In the commercial world that we live in it can be hard to sift through all the rubbish to find those shiny gems, especially when the rubbish is covered in glitter and rhinestones which can mislead. TFB doesn’t claim to have found all these gems, on the contrary, some of the books reviewed are actually loathed by the reviewer. The point of TFB is to help you find good books, even great books which have somehow gone under the radar for whatever reason. My first review is of the very underrated ‘Northanger Abbey’ by the super-famous Jane Austen, a book I feel is overshadowed by the likes of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’ (Pride and Prejudice is my personal favourite) which is a shame because it is a very snarky and amusing gem of a book which deserves much more recognition.

 

So, my posts from now on may be fewer or of a lower quality. On the other hand, I might be great and things might be fine and dandy and my posts could get much better! Though if the former happens, you’ll know why.

The Predicament of Finding a First Job.

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This is a predicament I am finding myself in as of right now. Applying for every single job I can find online, writing a cover letter for each application, cold-calling and giving copies of my resume out like fliers and then waiting… and waiting…
The annoying thing is that the jobs I apply for aren’t flashy ones. They are usually entry level retail jobs and admin jobs, generally customer service roles which aren’t that hard to figure out, and just because I have no experience in working, automatically I’m a clueless idiot!

I see retail assistants who are like zombified teenagers who are constantly texting and/or on facebook, these hopeless people who know nothing about the products they’re selling or what they have in their shop. This infuriates me because even though they’re completely useless and stupid dingbats, THEY can get the job and I can’t?!

WHAT.

Employers, I have never worked, this is true. But not because I’ve been lazing around! I spent a year in Vietnam immersing myself in a different culture and improving my Vietnamese language skills, I have supervised my little brother’s schoolwork and have been studying at TAFE. I’m not an idle slacker living on the taxpayer’s money! I actually want to work!
I hate resumes, I hate that people will judge me based on a piece of paper. A piece of paper which only shows that I’m young and inexperienced. Why can’t someone just interview me on the spot. A once-over, a couple of personality questions and a two week trial?
Why is everything about certificates and experience these days? What happened to old-fashioned common sense, friendly manners and elbow grease? Isn’t that really what customer service all about?

Imaginative Writing: The Life of A Song

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I wrote this one evening with a plan in mind but it was edited and rewritten so many times I’m not sure what it is anymore… I thought it would be a waste if I didn’t post it as it did take me some time to write.

 

A musician sat slouched at his desk, the flickering, yellow light from his table lamp the only source of illumination in the studio room. Sleep had evaded him for days on end, the artistic muse being responsible for his restlessness.
His heavy eyelids had just dropped down, his dazed mind still stuck between the blurring lines of consciousness and sleep. He could still feel the warm light from the lamp on his eyelids, making him see red through translucent skin. Meanwhile, half a dozen unfinished lyrical thoughts mingled with reminders of deadlines and mental notes to go grocery shopping, shave and leave the house to avoid insanity.

He awoke with a start feeling as though he had been plucked from the depths of darkness and instead of being awakened gently by hair-like sunbeams filtering through cracks in the windows and doors, he was attacked by white hot light straight through the eyeballs. Staggering from his desk with squinty eyes, he took wobbly steps to the bathroom and promptly fell on top of the sink grasping at the tap and spraying himself in the face with cold water. Splashing his face with water he began the laborious task of untangling his thoughts. 

By the time he finished brushing his teeth and shaving his face he had planned out two coherent thoughts. First, he hadn’t eaten since lunch yesterday and so he needed food. The second, he needed to finish the song he was working on today before pesky management and the record label started their weekly phone calls to encourage, bribe, threaten and beg for new material.

The local cafe satisfied his hunger, the quality of the food being mediocre but filling. Scribbling on the greasy paper napkin next to his plate, he decided on the spot that he would finish this pain of a song before leaving the cafe. It was a symbolic thing he figured, he needed to get it all over and done with just as he had done with his breakfast, no more thinking up new ideas, no scrapping and restarting. He had the music finished pretty much, the lyrics could be thought out in less than an hour if he really tried.

The pen in his hand felt heavy, but as soon as he had finished a line of writing the weight of it began to lighten. He was familiar with this process, it was something that happened on all his final drafts. Soon enough he was in a haze, a flurry of mental activity which overwhelmed his mind and words, words and only words were all he could see and feel.

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On Originality.

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One of the things that irks me the most is when people describe their work as ‘original’.

Why?

Because when I hear that, it’s usually said in a very blasé, obnoxiously smug way. Not only am I annoyed at this display of smugness, but I am also made very uncomfortable by the fact that this person is refusing to acknowledge every and anyone in influencing them in any way.

That’s what it means to me. I mean, I might be totally wrong, and I’m sure the person making this seemingly innocent comment has no idea the weight of their words is crushing me with deep annoyance.

The thing is though, I remember my Extension English teacher telling me about how teachers were encouraged to call ‘creative writing’ ‘imaginative writing’ instead because it was a more accurate term due to the fact that it was highly unlikely that completely new writing styles were being created in our day and age. That is kind of my point. I very much doubt that Shakespeare called himself ‘original’, even though he is one of the few people who might be able to get away with calling himself so.

An artist living today no matter how great would be unwise to completely discredit artistic influences because they are there, even without the artist’s awareness. Things influence us both consciously and unconsciously there’s no way you can fight that, but why would you?

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The arts are all about sharing, that’s the beautiful thing about it. Sure, you can aspire to make a whole new movement in art or literature which is completely devoid of any human influence, you can try if you like! But it probably feels quite lonely on top of that mountain peak.

Music Makes Me…

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Music is an intangible subject to discuss. Everyone enjoys music to some degree, whether they live and breathe it or are a passive toe-tapper. From the wealthy and privileged to the poor and uneducated, music is an integral part of art and culture all over the world.
So when I’m beginning an acquantaince, one of the first things I ask about to truly begin sketching your personality is ask you what kind of music you like. The response varies from “Oh, I listen to whatever’s on the radio charts” to “Oh you wouldn’t know them.” The variation in opinions and emotions expressed astound me. They astound me because they are an example of how a subject that seems so trivial, so unnecessary can be such a great equaliser in a world where we all feel as though enjoyment of ‘The Arts’ is a romantic, frivolous activity enjoyed by the upper tiers of privileged society.
To a degree this is true. As a member of the working class, I find that collecting Impressionist oil paintings and Post-modernist sculptures is something that is a little above my means in the way of being a hobby!
The more I think about it, the more fascinated I am at how music is created. Just think of the context of a music artist crafting a single song. An artist dreams up melodies, rhythms and lyrics. The artist records the musical piece. The artist releases their work. After that what happens? The audience is then in the position of control. This singular piece of art which lasts on average for three and a half minutes is loved, hated, critiqued and dissected.

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How overwhelming it must be for a music artist to comprehend that this song they wrote and recorded in their dingy, dark basement is now no longer theirs, but instead now part of the soundtrack to hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of people’s lives. Imagine they could see and feel what people see and feel when listening to their music the first time on the radio, on their morning jog, on their wedding day, after a break-up. These melodies and rhythms which make up so many memories and bring back misty nostalgia every time they are heard. Imagine they could experience the way their song affected others.