Twenty-Two

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Yesterday was my 22nd birthday. So okay, let’s get the Taylor Swift references out of the way first. I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I’M FEELING TWENTY TWoO. Done. Easy. You know, I could have referenced 22 by Lily Allen just to spice things up, but I’m not quite that cynical yet. Though I will admit, I’m not a big fan of my own birthday and I was playfully accused of being ‘depressing’ when I said as much. I’m sorry! I’m more of a general holiday person, not a birthday person. Overall I had a very nice day, though. My family got me a truly intense amount of chocolate, my sister took me out for a chocolate-laden lunch, and my mother baked me a chocolate birthday cake. Any more chocolate and I fear I could be sick of it!!

I also had so many incredibly kind birthday wishes from friends near and far. Sometimes I really can’t believe how lucky I am to know so many amazing people. Even if many live so painfully far away, I’m so grateful for the Internet and how it allows me to connect with all these intelligent, kind, thoughtful, beautiful, and truly incredible people. I feel I’m always acutely aware of how wonderful everyone is, but having everyone contact me in the same day made it very easy for me to realise how inspired I am by everyone I know. Maybe there is a reason to love my birthday after all; it’s less about me and more about being given an opportunity to step back and truly appreciate everything…

Looking back, it has been a fairly quiet year. I went back to University studies in December and mostly I’ve been keeping to myself, trying to balance my life and understand what I want to do. The past twelve months have been very internal, full of reflecting and thinking and decision-making. I don’t have everything figured out, but I also realised that it’s okay not to know everything yet. Sometimes my desire to succeed overtakes everything else, and I realised I wasn’t really giving myself the space to be young. Achievement is really important to me, but I also don’t want to waste my youth. I don’t want to look back and only see me sitting at a desk by myself all the time. Which I realised might happen when my sister told an acquaintance that I ‘hadn’t left the house in three weeks’. I was indignant at first, thinking it was an over-exaggerated jab… it wasn’t. I literally hadn’t left the house in a month!!! Oops.

More than ever, connecting with people and having new experiences is what I want. I am admittedly a bit of a ‘late bloomer’, I suppose because I’m quite sensitive and introverted, I’ve never felt ready for things (even really basic, normal things) at the same time as ‘everyone else’. Even just growing up in general; I definitely had a bit of Peter Pan syndrome. The world just felt incredibly overwhelming and I suppose I needed a few years to toughen up. Honestly, I feel a bit embarrassed saying that, but it’s the truth. I’m ready to grow up now.

I’ve had enough of dreaming, I’ve had enough of living on the edges of life. I need to dive in, even though it all seems a bit scary to me sometimes. I want to feel my feet on solid ground; my mind chewing on real problems, formulating real solutions; my hands working on tangible projects, reaching out to others, making real change. My grip on reality is now unapologetically tight. I’ve had many people over the years attempt to tell me off or shame me for being opinionated and outspoken, twisting it into something I should be ashamed of. Now, though, I’m surrounded by the most incredible (aforementioned) people and they’ve helped me see that I need to keep talking, demanding, shouting. I never feel more alive than when I’m in activist mode, critiquing and deconstructing and refusing to accept the world the way it is. I can’t wait to do more with it.

All I know for sure, is that at 22 I’m happy in a way I’ve never really been happy before. I still get moody and overwhelmed and everything, but this is deeper. There is an overall satisfaction, a contentedness, that has seeped through my body, right into the core of me. I feel purposeful and strong. I don’t feel like I’m pretending so much anymore; instead I’m slipping into who I truly am and who I want to be. Getting older is very satisfying to me, being able to look back and see how much I’ve grown, how far I’ve come… it’s amazing. So many people fear getting older, but how could you, really? When there’s so much to keep reaching for, so much that will only come with more time. More living.

Bring it on.

5 Cancelled TV Shows You Should Watch

tvshows

The room is black, it feels hollow and dimensionless without a single pinprick of light to ground you. This lasts only a few moments of confusion before the centre of the room begins to illuminate. Slowly, the light radiates outwards, and you notice a backlit figure in the centre, sitting hunched and still. Your eyes are wide, peering hard to get a better look as the light continues to fill the room. Suddenly, the figure looks up and the light catches glistening tears on cheeks. It is a woman, you think. She covers her eyes with the back of her hand, recoiling from the spreading light. ‘Pain,’ she mumbles. ‘It still pains me.’ What does? you wonder. This is pretty weird and you can’t actually remember how you got here. ‘The pain… of these cancellations…’ she is louder now, letting her hand fall. ‘I am distraught. These shows, gone forever, never to be continued, oh the grief! This still haunts me, a gloomy spectre living in the hollows of my haunted heart…’ The light is now illuminating the whole room.

Ah. You realise. It’s just Emily.

Well yes. It was me! But so what! You don’t know my pain! (Well, you might soon…) There’s nothing worse than becoming attached to characters, only to have them unceremoniously ripped away. Gone, forever. Especially in this day and age of television, where faltering beginnings are no longer given the time to stabilise in later seasons. Instead they’re replaced in favour of something new, something the networks hope will be the next big thing. No! I wanted the old thing! How dare you do this to me!!!! The following are my biggest heartbreaks – heartbreaks that are most definitely worth it. Please give them a chance, I promise my heartbreak is mostly melodrama. But you have been warned. If you do watch, I cannot be held responsible for the turmoil of their often abrupt endings. Though do come to me with your tears and we can weep together. (I’ve also included links to each show’s wikipedia page, because we all know I am terrible at summarising plots!)

 

the hour television show bbc ben whishaw

1. The Hour

This show is now a core part of my being. Central to my existence. An undeniable part of my heart. It is all 1950s BBC journalists and typewriters and newspapers and cigarettes and politics. I honestly don’t know if I can capture this show in words; it is something that needs to be seen and experienced. There is mystery and drama, stoic bravery, high tensions, and strong women. This series is truly incredible. You have to watch it. Anyone who has ever put off watching it comes back to me asking why they didn’t listen to me earlier. I am all-knowing and wise when it comes to things like this. Here is the wikipedia page, if you need any further convincing.

It only got two seasons, but I will admit I preferred the first, so the cancellation didn’t leave me as distraught as it did some. Still, it was axed before its time and it is a TRAGEDY.

the carrie diaries television show annasophia robb

2. The Carrie Diaries

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I don’t like Sex and the City. I tried to, but it left me with a strong feeling of ‘ehhhhhh’. The Carrie Diaries on the other hand? It’s a far cry from The Tales of Heterosexual White Women – oops, I mean Sex and the City – while still being lighthearted and enjoyable. Especially when you don’t want to have to think too hard. It’s pink and cute but doesn’t shy away from real issues such as family, friendships, romance, sex, school, careers, & sexuality. Even using birth control and the AIDs epidemic have screen time. Also, Carrie is the sweetest character, and I find her a lot more relatable and less annoying than in SATC. She’s down to earth, cares deeply about the people around her, and is responsible and hard-working to boot. I want to be her best friend. Plus, it’s set in the 1980s, but the style has a modern twist so it’s not too 80s (I’m not too fond of the era myself).

There’s only two seasons of this lovely little show, which is such a shame! I tried to make myself enjoy SATC to fill the void The Carrie Diaries left, but it didn’t work. Here’s the wiki.

bunheads television show

3. Bunheads

Once you get past the terrible first episode and weird premise, this show is gold. From the creator of Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman-Palladino created another loveable, quirky, comfort-watch – only for it to be prematurely cancelled after a single season. Rude!!!! It centres around a small town ballet school, and deals with both adult and teen subject matter, much like Gilmore Girls did. It’s a great show for when you just want to relax. It’s fast paced, witty, and engaging. You’ll love the characters. My favourite is Sasha – she’s kind of like the female ballerina version of Jess from Gilmore Girls. I know I’m awful at summarising things, so here’s the wikipedia page.

It’s not the most perfect show in the world, but I truly believe it would have grown into itself if given more seasons. It’s still thoroughly enjoyable and I’ve re-watched it many times. You should give it a go too!

pushing daisies television show lee pace anna friel

4. Pushing Daisies

Why are you even sitting here reading this if you haven’t watched Pushing Daisies? Ned the Pie Maker (Lee Pace) has the ability to resurrect the dead with a single touch, but if he touches them again – BAM – back to the grave they go. He uses this gift to solve crimes with a private detective. He ends up waking his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles (Anna Friel), from the dead and kind of sort of accidentally lets her stay alive. I know this sounds like a gritty drama, but it’s a sugary sweet, colourful, wonderful show. It will also make you crave pie. There’s bright colours, cute clothes, cuter people, and the premise is unique and fun.

GO! GO NOW! There’s two whole seasons waiting for you!

Godspeed, my friend.

in the flesh television show bbc3

5. In The Flesh

Don’t even look at me. I cannot believe this was cancelled. I cannot. It’s utter madness. This show has zombies, rural England, and an incredible look at small-town community politics. Especially with the real-world looming threat of extremist violence and the media/political circus surrounding it all, In The Flesh sheds a very important light on extremism, ignorance, fear, hate, and love. It’s heavy and often heartbreaking; just a warning. The first season especially deals with themes of suicide and depression. Like, they play a Keaton Henson song at the end of every episode. It’s that depressing. But good, too. So, so good.

There has been hope that In The Flesh may be picked up by an alternate network (it was a BBC3 production), but the more time passes, the more I fear we will have to accept that two heartbreaking, beautiful seasons is all we shall ever get of this incredible show. Here’s the wikipedia page.

Have you seen any of these now-cancelled shows? What did you think of them? And, if not, have I convinced you to give any of them a watch?

Study Update / 01

study update

Study Update is a new series to help hold me accountable for my studies while also sharing how University is going. I debated a little about posting a series that’s so ‘me, me, me’, but I do get asked about my studies, especially as I have health issues and study online. So maybe my study updates could actually be useful for anyone else who is in a similar situation to me. Especially because I’m not the perfect student – I fall behind and get overwhelmed and everything else – and I think a lot of people need to be reminded that it’s okay not to be. Regardless of how I handle my studies, I’ve fallen completely in love with my education and feel extremely grateful that I’m able to access University despite my circumstances. Some days it amazes me how I went from University drop out who dramatically declared studying THE WORST!! and that I would NEVER go back!! Things have changed and I’m really, really happy they have. So, on with the show!

What I’m Studying

I study Politics and History at undergraduate level at Macquarie University through Open Universities Australia. I have a big post coming up about my experiences studying online with Open Universities so far, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested! (And let me know if you have any questions about it too, I know I had loads when I considered studying through OUA but couldn’t find a lot of information.)

It is currently Week 5 of Study Period 2 (out of 4). This study period (SP) I’m taking the classes ‘Introduction to Global Politics’ and ‘Critical Thinking’. It’s my first SP not taking any history units, and it feels like I’m on holiday! I love history so much, but there’s so many readings that I always find it hard to keep up (and often don’t manage to). Politics and philosophy are far more easy-going in that regard, though they are still challenging in their own ways! Since this is my first post I’ll go over my classes first and what I think of them so far, and then go into how my studies are going.

My Classes

Critical Thinking is my absolute favourite class, perhaps the favourite out of all I’ve ever taken (sorry Worlds of Early Modern Europe!). I’m naturally a critical thinker and jump into debate and in-depth discussion at the drop of a hat, and this class focuses 100% on constructing and deconstructing arguments (in every area: debate, marketing, politics, etc.) to strengthen our critical thinking capabilities. It’s amazing. I’m so in love with this class! I like to think I’m already pretty skilled at constructing arguments, but everything is explicitly laid out and analysed. After every lecture I feel so excited because I feel like I’ve levelled up. As dorky as that sounds. I even said to my mother, ‘this class is going to turn me into a monster!‘ Honestly I can barely even think about the end of term and everything I will have learned in this class by then, it makes me so excited – I’m like a child anticipating Christmas! The lecturer is also fantastic, he’s really good at explaining everything and has a great sense of humour that definitely contributes to the ease of grasping the analytical concepts.

Global Politics is also very interesting and I value everything I’ve learned so far. International Relations is such an important part of politics today, and it’s something I really need to get a better grip on. In particular, I’m really hoping by the end of the semester I’ll have a clearer opinion on globalisation. I can see the good and bad of a world that is less and less defined by state border lines, and this seems to be something a lot of people are advocating for, but at the same time our entire system (including individual & cultural identity) is built on the notion of territorial states. There’s a lot to consider! I also tend to pick and choose what political areas I am knowledgeable about, so I hope to gain a broader scope of knowledge in general. My wild, passionate love for Critical Thinking does sometimes overshadow Global Politics, but I still really adore this class.

How I’m Going

As mentioned above, it’s Week 5 and a (minor) piece of assessment for each class has already been submitted. For Critical Thinking it was a quiz, which I received an 8/10 for. I’m kind of annoyed at myself because I got a 9.25 on the practice quiz! But I genuinely thought the answers I gave were correct, so I tried my best – and that’s meant to count for something, right? Results aren’t back yet for Global Politics because of an error in the assessment system, but the bright side is that this resulted in a week’s extension on the next piece of assessment! Maybe the system should mess up more often…

I’m especially happy about the extension because I fell behind a bit in the last week or so. I had a sudden bout of tiredness and struggled to concentrate on my work. My participation marks will have taken a hit (usually accounts for 10-15% of the final grade) because of it. However I’m slowly feeling better and have been catching up on last week’s work. My coffee intake has increased because my tiredness usually hits really hard in the afternoon (tfw you run out of spoons, am I right?!), which helps get a little bit of extra work done. I have a bit under three weeks to get my next pieces of assessment done which I hope will be ample time, even if my fatigue drifts in and out (as it probably will).

I do miss history a bit, despite the massive workload that comes with it. Learning about the past is so important to me, and every week I’d feel so much more connected to the world and the people in it. I think it’s that feeling I miss the most! I’m planning on taking a history unit next term though, so I’m trying not to dwell on it too much. I’ve also noticed my history studies have helped my politics studies so much. There’s a lot of historical concepts that politics lecturers only briefly touch on, but I knew about it all in-depth thanks to my history classes; I think these disciplines compliment one another perfectly. I would have a far less confident grip on what I learn in my politics classes if I didn’t also have such a solid understanding of how society functioned in the past and how/why it changed.

So overall I’m loving it and I feel my studies are going well, even if I do fall behind every now and again! I’m especially pleased with how my two chosen disciplines compliment one another, and how much better I understand everything with greater clarity because of it. By my next study update I hope to be on track with my assessment and up-to-date with all my lectures and class participation. Let’s see how it goes!

I Opened a Shop! Miss Black Design

miss black design premade wordpress themes

Yes, I did it! I opened a shop.

The Miss Black Design Shop sells pre-made wordpress themes. My themes are clean and attractive (my friends would expect me to say ‘like me‘ here) with an air of romantic nostalgia… typewriters, old books, love letters. All of them run on the Genesis framework too, a powerful framework that I really love using. Most of all I am enjoying the design aspect. There’s a quietness in the things I create, a collection of feelings. Like reading in front of a crackling fire, or holding someone’s hand, or the way your favourite record makes you feel. Those little moments mean the most to me and I remember life: not as a sequence of events, but as a series of feelings.

I know you understand what I mean. I’m creating themes for the types of blogs I would like to read. Witty, intelligent, thoughtful, calming. All the technical information can be found in the Etsy listings, the short version is that they come with full installation instructions and free lifetime support. Plus each listing has a link to a live theme demo, so you can see it all in action before you buy. I truly think they are fantastic value. And if you do buy, be sure to send me a link to your blog. The combination of my amazing themes and your incredible genius content will obviously create some kind of superblog. (Overdramatic? Me? I can’t believe you’d say such a thing!) 

And if you aren’t in the market for themes, don’t worry!

Because I’m sure you were completely devastated you couldn’t buy anything from me, right? (Ha ha ha…) WordPress themes aren’t all I want to create; I have plans for much more outside of blog-related design. Stationery, particularly for students and young adults, is on my to-do list! I’m very excited about it. I really want to create affordable and beautiful stationery that doesn’t come with a hefty ‘luxury’ price tag. In the lead-up I’m going to be offering plenty of free downloads and printable products, so keep an eye out. Exciting times are ahead!

And I know I’ve already thanked individuals, but I’d like to say thanks again to all the people who have supported and encouraged me so far! I’ve battled a lot of self-doubt and fear over these steps forward, and every kind word and show of support means so much. You’re all the best ever! I would be nothing but a whimpering pile of anxiety without it. And holding this over the head of my future successes will probably only make me feel like a proud Slytherin mama hen, so go ahead. 

 

How I Prepare For A New University Semester

How I Prepare For A New University Semester

It’s not actually on a typewriter, because I’m not an undergraduate from 1932. I study online through Open Universities Australia, and the courses are structured so that there are no holidays or breaks between study periods. Exams are usually due on a Friday and Monday is the beginning of a new study period. The two day gap means it is essential that I move on from my old units, both physically and mentally, and get myself ready for the next thirteen weeks of classes. My first term and transition were kind of a mess, but at least I knew what to expect and this is how I do it now.

Workspace Organisation

I print out most of my research because I find it much easier to read, annotate, and refer back to (even if it does mean I go through a lot of paper and printer ink). At the end of the term I usually find myself surrounded by piles of academic papers, highlighted and annotated within an inch of their margins. I collect them by subject/topic and put them into basic lever arch binders to refer back to in future. The organisation system is pretty rudimentary at the moment (the main motivator was getting them off my desk and floor), but the more I study the more elaborate I suspect it will become.

I also gather all my pens and notepaper back at my desk, give everything a bit of a clean, and go through my computer and set up my University files so that it’s all ready for the new term. I look at my new unit information and put all due dates into my calendar (I like a month view). I also like to put in approximate ‘start’ dates for my assessment before I get busy.

Mental Organisation

Once I have my physical surroundings and semester plan roughly worked out, it’s much easier to dive into new classes. However, nearly every time my classes have ended I still have a lot of that information going around in my head. It’s certainly a good thing, but when I need to throw myself into new information, I can’t be spending too much time dwelling on information I researched for last term’s major essay.

What I like to do is write down anything I’d like to come back to later. I add related books to my Goodreads ‘to-read’ list and tag them with the relevant topics, I write lists of future topics of research and come back to, and so on with any other information or resources. I think ahead as much as possible, as these topics will probably come up again in my academic life or future career. There have been a few times where I’ve entertained the idea of writing a history book someday, and it will be extremely beneficial to have ordered research already done, along with lists of future topics of research. After I’ve safely got everything documented I find it much easier to move on.


It’s not complicated at all, but it makes all the difference. As someone prone to stress, it’s important to be able to leave it all behind in the past term and move on with a fresh mind. The last thing I want is to carry over my stress, and the best way to do that is with a very literal ‘out with the old, in with the new’ routine.

Do you have a New Semester Preparedness Plan? Let me know, I could always do with more tips!