Christmas

Interesting title. I’m sure it’s thrilling. It gets to that point on Christmas Day, if you only have yourself to worry about, where if you’re not with your family or simply feel a little bit bored, where the sadness sets in. I don’t quite understand it but I do know it’s cause. We get this incredibly wonderful build up to Christmas, and it’s over so soon. I can’t wait for next year for Grandma’s homemade salads, Mum’s homemade dips, all my family, beach weather… There’s so much. Months of build up for one day of the year where we have no excuse but to come together and celebrate Christmas. Does everyone remember to also celebrate family? Or friendship? Health? I think often these simple things are neglected on days like this but it’s pretty important to not let go of that.

I skyped home at about 1:30am, finally everyone was gathered at Aunty Leanne’s house and the webcam didn’t work but I could still hear everyone. It was nice. We talked for a while and by that point I was caught up in being awake. I finally got to sleep at 4:30 only to have to get up at 9 to get ready for Christmas lunch. I have never been out for Christmas and honestly I don’t ever want to do it again. It was okay, a roast dinner. I’m not a fan of roasts. I want Grandma’s pasta salad, potato salad, coleslaw. The cold thick ham slices and fresh green salads. The finger food of cheese cubes and kabana… So Christmas seems fairly stomach oriented but sometimes that’s a great way to bring people together. It ties in the memories of what my family does at Christmas and how we celebrate.

We got home after a nice lunch and really did nothing for the rest of the day. I was so bored, I sat upside down on my bed. I did watch Love Actually which I will admit is a fantastic movie.  I was too tired to motivate myself to do work yet too awake to want to sleep.   I was exhausted. Tried to nap but then I knew I’d wake up grumpy. It was the awkward middle ground. No one at home was awake and Jess was busy watching things and doing things. After a while I went and sat with her. She wanted her family to spend more family time with her seeing as they flew all this way for her at Christmas. We were here alone after we were dropped off after lunch. I didn’t want to leave her on her own although I was supposed to go to Jessie, our roommates place for dinner. I never ended up going because by the time Jess’ friend came over to spend time with her, it was 8:30. Of course I didn’t have to stay with her, but I didn’t want to leave her alone because I know how dull and crazy being alone here can make you, particularly on a day like today.  At 6:30 I wasn’t sure whether it was too late to go over and Jessie had fallen asleep watching movies so she never got back to me til 10 something anyway so it kind of worked out. I ended up watching a few episodes of TV shows and getting quite emotional too.

I can get so attached to TV shows and their characters, storylines… everything. This one episode I watched, had characters having to leave behind their pasts because it was holding them back. I realised I had spent a great deal of my time over the past few years doing just that. The quote was “You can’t live with a ghost forever.”. This was applicable to one character who was seeing the ghost of an ex, and another who was holding onto the memory of what someone used to be. The latter is where I feel the most.  There are people in my life who have come and gone, some I just can’t let go of. I say that and then I go to say… “But I have let them go…” It just hurt a lot to see something say out loud what I had lived with for such a long time. You don’t want to lose who that person was, whether they forgot you or made new friends or just grew up. You don’t want to let go of the “them” that you know.

So I have concluded my Christmas alone, but it is okay. I Skyped Mum and Dad again and now it’s 2:20am. Time for sleep I think. Christmas was what I expected. I just wish I got to spend it the way I would design the perfect day. It’s okay. I’m happy to be in England don’t get me wrong. Sometimes my emotions just weight a thousand tonnes and I carry all the weight on my own, because it’s less complicated. It’s better that way, self sufficient. Not saying that as “woe is me” depression stance, just outright saying.

Once I wake up my head will be clearer, but don’t let me edit this post. It’s what it’s for. It’s my blog, my journal, my diary. Personal things haven’t really been documented but hey, I need to write down things sometimes to clear my head.

Good night Christmas, see you in 2012. 2011 has been fun.

Off to London on Tuesday, then Paris Wednesday. I look forward to what the week shall bring.

Love,

Rachel.xox

 

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Cobwebs, gloomy and glorious thoughts.

Being away from family at times you want to be there for them can be a hard thing to accept. Sometimes, things go wrong in our loved ones’ lives that we could indeed fix if we were able to be there. Other things, often cannot be helped. Support always keeps us strong, though it just does not feel like it is as powerful when you feel helpless living a million miles away. There are so many things I’m afraid of, besides spiders.  They are all the same thing. Death. Not my own, no. That I have pondered, that I have wondered about. It’s not that that scares me. The thought of dying perhaps can feel like a ticking time bomb but no, I am not afraid of it. I am afraid though, of it claiming the lives of my loved ones. Before I get too grim here, no one has died, and if all my willpower can help it, no one will be dying any year near now. But eventually it has to happen. I get teary just saying that. I feel my chest start to constrict and my eyes begin to well up with tears. But it is a fact of life. Things do go on.

One thing I learnt from losing someone dear to me a number of years back, was that it never heals. Whatever people say about time healing all is something I believe to be false.  It is entirely though, dependant on what your perception of “healing” is. For me, yes time helps with loss. It’s because your life continues to tick along whether you like it or not, and once someone or something is gone, it generally does not return. You were used to this presence in your life every day perhaps, a semi-regular appearance or even just the knowledge that that person was there for you. They were still there, then suddenly they are not. As time passes, you “reality” begins to take a new form. At first, you are so grief stricken and cannot believe it, because well, it’s not your reality. You familiar reality, or past, was a life where they were around. Until time starts to pass, this will remain your reality.

As time does start to go on however, this new reality takes shape.  You don’t entirely accept their disappearance but reality is without them now. The longer period of time that passes, the more familiar you are with this reality. You don’t move on, you rebuild. It’s not leaving them behind, I wouldn’t like to call it moving on either. Your mind, or rather you, just create this new vision of reality. Without them.

My biggest fear is that of …my parents. Either one. I’m sure I have stated it many times but perhaps never properly.  I would willingly jump off a bridge if they were not here. I wouldn’t do it without them, I refuse to even fathom a reality without them.  My family, both sides of my family, are also crucially important. All of them are always on my mind and if I could be there with any of them any time something happened, I would in a heartbeat.

A new reality I have formed here in England is without my family. They are safe, well and for the most part healthy, but they are not here with me. It’s something different that I have never experienced before, I had never lived out of home or even been away from my parents for even more than a fortnight.  I am doing well. Of course I miss them all. There’s nothing I will ever love more than my parents, but I’m doing quite well for myself I think. Sitting here now in my bed, I take a look around. These walls will soon be someone else’s, my things replaced, my memories left within the walls of 11E.  But for now, it is home. It is my reality. At first, it was too different, but I quickly settled. I feared I would be constantly homesick dreading living here for such a supposedly long time. But it’s not like that at all. I have put my imprint on my room. My style. My emotion. I have my dream catcher to my left, my 101 Dalmations towel as a decoration over the banister. Photographs I had printed months prior to my travels pinned to the notice board. Fairy lights and tinsel winding their way around the banister poles. Stacks and stacks of library books, fiction and theory, all neatly creating some kind of imprint here. I feel it creates some kind of character. It is home, for now, and I love it.

But alas, I shall return to my home, to my country soon enough. I will have to adjust having a big bed again, a private kitchen, proper equipment, a shower with adjustable heat, proper bench space and a big desk. Television, what is this thing you speak of?!  I don’t miss those things though. I really do appreciate just what I have. Here in Kirkstall, I am still very lucky. Without many things I would have called “necessities” prior to this year, I am absolutely fine and dandy without. I am still very well off here. I don’t have money to throw around but I am beyond comfortable. Perspective adds an interesting twist to life.

While I definitely look forward to going home, seeing my parents, my family, my boyfriend, my friends… Leeds has captured a part of my heart.

But I do not wish to stay forever, I am too removed from my family. Too far away. I feel too useless in case of emergency. Mum already had some worries earlier in the year. Grandma had a fall and now Oma’s back in the hospital. No matter where you exist in the world, home is home.  If home is where the heart is, and my heart is always with my family, then I know where I’ll always be drawn back to.

Sometimes you just have to see another perspective to really understand and appreciate things for how they are.

Names and Places

Sometimes the smallest things make me content. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it.  It’s Friday morning here, about 11am and I just got home from uni. I stayed in class a little longer because the rest of the students have further classes, but it’s always good to hang around and get extra help. Help sought, I had forgotten my power adapter, hadn’t had a chance to have breakfast and (still do) needed sleep. Leaving the main building, James Graham Building, the fresh winter air hit me. It’s not quite cold here yet; for those at home it would be so but I think I’m adjusting to these temperatures. It’s about 5 degrees at the moment, not quite cold enough for snow but I’d be happy to sacrifice a few degrees for some fluffy white ice.  Making my way over to the bus stop, which is just next to the building, one bus driver pulls up and lets students off. This bus driver is Alan. He’s got white hair and almost resembles a better looking Steve Martin; rounder face, friendly smile.  I ask if he’s going “home” (back to the Brewery) or just dropping off.

These details seem insignificant to write about but I want to remember this happy feeling, I really appreciate getting to know people and people being consistent in my life.  He informs me it’s time for his break but the bus waiting a couple of hundred meters back will be ready to pick up in a few minutes. I have seen him in the cafeteria before, as you would expect, just grabbing lunch. It’s funny seeing people out of context sometimes, like seeing a teacher out of school. The bus drivers are good friends because well, they’re usually the only two who do our run. I waited around listening to the wind howl for a bit while a few other buses approached and left before mine pulled up. I hadn’t known this man’s name yet, though he is the most talkative usually of the two. He’s possibly a little older, with short brown hair, crooked teeth and such a friendly manner.  He’s always joking to the students, being smart with them but always lovely.  I was the only one to hop on the bus, as there’s one every 40 minutes and it was only 10 to 11 in the morning; I don’t imagine many students actually do go home then unless you’re lucky enough (like me) to finish early. I had a little chat when I got on as we waited to see if there were more people approaching, about when the buses were running over Christmas (they stop same time uni does and resume again, 3 weeks later when uni does) and as I said “Oh good, you do come back!” he adds “Of course! Got to see you don’t I?” (classic example of his comments). I go on to tell him that I leave Kirkstall on the 23rd of January and how fast these few months have gone. He asked, jokingly, to come to Australia too haha. I added well yes it’s warmer that’s for sure. We then left and before leaving campus collected another lady.

This is what I find quite endearing about our bus drivers, even when you’re running late and trying to catch up to the bus, they won’t just drive by and ignore you. They won’t leave you behind, they’ll (usually) stop anywhere just for any one of us! Often, if on my way home at about 1:30pm on Wednesday’s, Alan will ask if I need to get dropped off at Morrisons (grocery store about 7 minute walk down the road). The bus doesn’t go directly past it, but if I ask, if anyone asks, they will take the slight detour to drop us as close as possible. Simple tiny things that I don’t know if other people bother to appreciate. As we arrived home twenty minutes later, I had planned in my head what I had to ask the other bus driver. “What’s your name?” “Pete.” “Pete?” (just to clarify I heard properly through his accent :P) He nods and I add that I had overheard that the other man was Alan, and he confirmed that. I wished him a good weekend and was on my way, as he made his way around the complex to in turn pick up more people waiting in our complex to go to uni.
There’s something special about things like that. You might think it’s ridiculous I read so much into simple things. It’s every day things that I really have learned to value. I haven’t had the same bus drivers since school, and even then some of them weren’t very nice.  I had Jim, in Primary School, from when I was about 5 to 10 years old. I have such memories of him, and actually I think he was Scottish… wait… I think? Anyway he was always joking and being smart with us, and everyone loved him. Now, at home going to uni it’s the Brisbane Transport drivers. It’s never the same drivers, and half the time they really don’t care. Over here though a lot of people don’t say thank you when getting off public transport. Students seem to do so to our drivers sometimes, but on public no. We always do at home, I’m sure we all do it. Different I guess here. I remember when I was going to Woolloongabba once at the end of last year.  It’s a 15 minute bus journey but took a lot longer, I think the cricket was on and it was madness in traffic. I ended up chatting to the driver as my stop was approaching, albeit slowly, and I remembered him. Not what we said, just that he was young, with shoulder length red hair, and was quite friendly. He wore a cap too, both times I saw him. Why I remember little things who knows.  Then about 3 months later I was catching the bus to Jess’ house, which is an entirely different route, different bus stops, everything. There was that man again.  That’s the only time I have ever seen a bus driver twice in Brisbane on public transport.

My Dad’s name is Peter. First thought that struck my mind when our bus driver, who I now know as Pete, told me his name. Even now every time I write Pete I have to correct myself as I type Peter to naturally. I think he was a little bit curious as to why the hell I wanted to know his name but honestly, it’s probably just for the memory.

And now I know their names, I’m going to make them a Christmas card.

Time for a nap, though I’ll probably Skype Mum & Dad first… They’re online now haha.
Love, Rach.xo

End of Assessment Madness

Nothing entirely exciting happened yesterday.  I have never been so stressed out about an assignment before, which in turn meant I was too scared to bother going to the teacher. I should know this stuff, I thought. I shouldn’t have to bother with asking for help or extensions. Sometimes, you just need help.  The games design course here is so different to home. They use Unity 3D in first year, which is pretty much what we were all begging for at home… home gets us to learn Blender which is free animation software which can be used as a game engine but really don’t please, don’t. They also start to get taught how to model objects and characters in 3ds Max which for all of you reading this you may know it’s a modelling tool, a very good expensive industry tool which is really beneficial to learn. I’m learning how to model characters, sculpt their details in another program called ZBrush (which I love) and then putting textures on them and animating the characters. It’s a lot of work when I’ve never done it before, but if I had done the entire degree here I would know how to. Lucky me who picks a third year class in a university that is actually more advanced than my own haha. Anyway I have ended up getting put with the animation students but doing the game design assessment; I’m making a master and creature whereas the animation students are only making one character, but instead of the assignment being due Monday like the rest of the game designers it’s now due when the animation students have theirs due, in January. It is such a relief. So over the Christmas break I have… an interactive website to finish creating in Flash, a character and creature to finish modelling, etc etc (insert animation jargon here) and animating, and a retro top down game to finish creating in Unity. Oh and the advertising for the game also. It’s so great but it’s also so much work. I love it here but it’s so overwhelming being thrown into all this.

I have been going a little stir crazy lately and I do think it’s because I haven’t been doing much but uni, I still have to find time to live too! I did go to Scotland a few weeks ago but I still think I need to get out of the house/the campus a little more often than I do. Oh well, international students Christmas Party tomorrow! Should be good again to get out, but at least two of my international friends can’t go because of other commitments. One’s (my friend Ricardo from Mexico) going to see Coldplay in London, for only 40 pounds!! The other, Stephen, is going to Scotland for the weekend. Jess & I are still intent on going but I can’t seem to locate the people selling tickets *curiously scans library as I’m typing*. It will be fun to go to. It’s in a club called Oceana, which is a very nice place in Leeds. It is also where the Calvin Harris gig was that I went to. Makes it the third time I have seen him and I absolutely love him. It was so packed… that’s for another post though.

I may go to the cinema tonight. I know I’m in Leeds, UK and I’m deciding to go to the movies. But honestly, never have I been somewhere that’s so close to any kind of civilisation hahah except my Grandma’s. We have the freedom of no parents (at least for another week, Jess’ Mum and Mum’s fiancée Richard are coming over soon)  so why not enjoy going out for the hell of it? It’s always a struggle for students wherever you might be in the world, but having a life, and getting work done is one thing… have a job at the same time… well I swear this is the hardest semester I have ever done, so in any case I am thrilled that I don’t have work to worry about!  I miss the people I work with, I miss meeting (the occasional) friendly customers. But I wouldn’t give this experience up for the world.

Love,
Rachel.xo

Christmas is fast approaching!

Tonight we went to the Christmas Dinner that was organised by the Photography Society. It wasn’t anything they hosted themselves, just a nice organised dinner at a place called The Picture House here in Leeds. I was starving, cold and stressed so I was very pleased to find myself attending dinner in a fine warm place, where I could get an entire roast meal, with all you can eat roast veggies for under four pounds. We ended up all sitting and chatting for almost three hours, though Jess and I tend to still just talk to ourselves.  It was a small group, only about 9 of us but it was really nice. We haven’t actually had any other outings other than Light Night, which was rather uneventful but still a nice night out. Tonight involved cooler weather and rain, all of which isn’t the greatest of combinations but I love that Leeds City Centre is lit up like a Christmas tree, so the cooler weather is always accompanied by pretty and bright Christmas lights. After dinner, we went for a walk up to the German Christmas markets which have been in Leeds now for about 3 weeks. I love them; gorgeous little stands filled with traditional German foods, sweets and crafts. I’m a sucker for anything cute and traditional so I love it there. It’s not as big as we had expected but lovely all the same. I have been there quite a few times now and find it’s very homely and friendly. I think I just love the Christmas decorations and lovely spirit there. Also there’s a merry go round and bumper cars, along with some other simple carnival style money-grabbing games. I must go on the merry go round before the markets are finished, they are so colourful. I have taken photos of one every  time I’ve seen it around Europe but never got a chance to actually ride on one. This time, I shall.

We ended up splitting up though from the group as we waited for someone to get cash out in Sainsbury’s.

 

-to be continued-