Spring Clean

Come spring, I want to write.
To sweep the cobwebs off of old ideas, place flowers behind my ears and pencils in my pockets. To make up dialogues that have laid dormant and put soul in characters’ eyes. I want to shake winter out of tense shoulders, to pull snow and sleep out of the tips of my fingers, I want to see new places and paint my nails.
Every winter it’s like the cold bogs me down, drowns ideas under the frost, lets fog and rain take a hold of all the things I want to do.
But come April, the sun starts to peek in through the window, like a shy child hiding behind the clouds. Bit by bit, it becomes more confident, and bit by bit, it dares peek out behind its mum’s skirt. And just like that, I want to write. I want to clean up my space, put on fresh bed sheets, air out my room, air out my thoughts. I want to open all the doors and the windows, put loud music on, move around and clear out my head.
I want to create.

-Andrea

“Maybe I Like Honey After All”

“We used to come here for Easter sermons as children, but back then the stone building had stood straight-backed like a school teacher, hushing every childish giggle. Now the doors were wide open and the entrance was decorated with draping curtains of pink and yellow.”

Hello!
This post is my 100th post on this blog! This page has been up and running since February 5th 2018, so that means a 100 posts in exactly one year and two months. Seeing as this blog began as an assignment for my former Creative Writing degree, I figured today I could show you a piece of writing I handed in as coursework, around the same time I started this blog!

So, the piece is from a module called Travel Writing, and it was written in January 2018. It is about the notion of “holidays at home”, and the ways that your hometown can surprise you when you start really looking at all the places you’re so used to existing in. For me, it was going to a festival my hometown puts on every year, for the first time a couple of years ago. Have a read, and thanks for sticking with me for a hundred posts!

-Andrea

“Maybe I Like Honey After All”

                 “You don’t have to buy the honey; you just have to taste it.” She grabbed my arm as I walked past her and shoved a spoon dripping with fresh honey into my hands. “Only local bees.”
I called her the Bee lady in my head. Her hands were rough; a worker’s hands. Wrinkles followed the lines of her face, the price of a long life well lived, and silver hair was gathered in a braid that hung down her back. She had decorated it with flowers for the occasion, greens and pinks and yellows.
“So many people think they don’t like honey at all, but that’s because they’ve only ever tasted the store bought kind.” She shook her head, making the braid dance.

                  “They don’t know how real honey actually tastes.” She winked at me. I thanked her and was about to leave, but she insisted on another spoonful.

                  I bought a jar.

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February Wrap Up

And just like that, February wrapped itself up in its big, woolen scarf and took off. See you in a year, it said, as it tottered away.

February brought with it:

  • New and exciting job opportunities
  • Copious amounts of tea
  • A lot of Sophie
  • Midnight kitchen dancing
  • So many assignments and study groups en mass
  • 11 postcards sent and 10 received
  • New friends
  • An embroidery project that’s bigger than anything I’ve ever done before
  • Huge changes to plans I’d already made (good ones, though, so it’s okay)
  • An IKEA nightstand that needed much love and attention
  • A need to be creative again
  • One poem and one creative piece accepted for publication
  • Sun

Here’s to March being just as good, if not better than February turned out to be.

-Andrea

When your childhood stops by for a minute

When your childhood stops by for a minute, in the shape of a sudden new book in a series who shaped you at 14 years of age, you run to the mail box. You run in your red wellies and your pyjamas, with sleep still misting up the corners of your eyes.

When you open the book for the first time, you’re going to be 14 again, clawing at the covers of what you thought was the end of the story. When you turn the title page, sat on a chair in your student flat-kitchen, you’re going to be transported back to that holiday when you were 10, that time you almost didn’t get in the pool because the story had you more captivated than chlorine water ever could. When you run your fingers along the pristine pages, the shining dust jacket and the black silk bookmark, you’ll remember the feeling of the tattered covers of books reread, of books well-loved, in your 12-year-old hands.

When your childhood stops by for a minute, in the form of a book you thought you’d never read, you put aside linguistic terms and phonetic theory, to dip into this world that welcomes you back, with cloaks and scrolls and fairytales.

When your childhood stops by for a minute, you stop too. You make a cup of tea, you put on some cosy socks.

And just like that, the story never ended.

So, context time! I loved this book series called Phenomena, by Ruben Eliassen, when I was a kid. The first book of the series came out in 2006 and the last in 2011, and these stories were important companions that proper helped shape my reading journey as a child and teen.

Through crowdfunding, the author has now published a new book; one that can either be seen as a finale to the old series, or a new beginning to what happened next in this story. Whether a final bow or an opening number, I’m so so so excited to get into this book, and I can’t wait for a deep dive back into that part of my childhood were the skies in the books were as real as the ones above my head.

Here we go.

-Andrea

“In defence of Foreign accents”

(Draft of a work-in-progress poem)

The goal among the international students at my uni
was to completely drop our accents
to sound like we’d grown up with English birthday songs and ice cream floats.

We wanted to be able to go to any bar, to order any coffee
and keep any conversation going for however long a time,
only to be able to slip in an “oh, I’m not from England, actually”
and watch peoples’ surprise.

We worked so hard to lose our accents,
the sound of what we thought was “not enough practice”,
not good enough.

Oh, how wrong we were.

Accents are identity
just as much as names and clothes and the street corners you crossed on your way to school
Your accent’s where you’ve come from,
the journey to where you are now,
it shows the world you dared to try.

Your accent is your family traditions,
the lessons of your mum’s lullabies,
the laundry songs of your house,
a grandma’s lap,
and the courage it took to get on that plane alone.

Your accent is a road map of the people you care about,
those who took the time to sit with you while you were learning,
who let you spin wonders of the words you didn’t understand
and didn’t mind you trying on their pronunciations for size.

Your accent is your home away from home,
the amalgamation of all that you are and all that you’ve been.

So instead of dropping our accents,
let us celebrate them.
For all that we are,
and all that we’re yet to learn,
and every step along the way.

-Andrea

“Sophie’s Adventure”

In lack of proper wine glasses, we improvise with teacups,
and as the shutter of a Polaroid camera goes off,
she’s pouring rosé,
small, pink oceans, bubbles and light storms in our glasses.

We’ve made a cave of my uni room,
filled every nook and cranny with silly laughs and fairy lights,
hot chocolate scented candles,
and unfamiliar words in both our languages.
Words we hope’ll make sense
when English just doesn’t cut it as our middle man,
when the words of home become impossible to translate,
– so we let her German paint pictures in the air,
and Norwegian show off all the words it has borrowed;
we meet in the middle.

There are some things you just cannot learn in your home country.

Dreams are dreamt up tonight.
Plans for all the cities that are yet to be seen,
Northern Lights still to be chased,
the cross stitches of who we’d wish to be one day hopefully coming together.
Everything navigated in between sips of pink and the idea of fairy story cities.    

There are no thoughts that cannot be put into words,
no words that cannot be sown into these blankets,
and the four years separating us don’t keep our musings from dancing,
from twirling,
from harmonising to the same melody.

Because, in the strangest way, it’s like she is me three years ago,
just with a dollop more maturity it took me an extra year to obtain.
Alone in a new country,
figuring it out on her own.
We talk about being lonely;
we talk about that empty feeling of evenings on your own, beating yourself up for not living your adventure abroad to the fullest,
and of the nights that last forever, where you’re surrounded by friends and this new country feels like where you were supposed to be all along,
We talk about how that’s okay.

And we agree that on those days, whether the sunset reaches us before we’ve even gotten out of our beds,
or if 4 am finds us in the middle of a favourite song,
we’ll pour the rosé in our tea cups again,
raise a glass to ourselves and our empty rooms
and celebrate.

There are some things you just cannot learn in your home town.

Because there are so many people to meet,
so many friends to make, hands to shake, eyes to get to know.
So many languages to learn, so many wines to taste and teas to test,
so many pictures to take, that need their own space in an album somewhere,
or hung above a bed,
the memories of your own fairy tales lulling you to sleep.

So many stories, of the adventures that are waiting.
So let’s raise a glass to that.

-Andrea

“Old Harry Rocks”

Written on the 21st of October, 2018.

The hillside is full of sheep.
They graze the grass we walk on, they don’t mind the steep slopes
and the cliffs.

The villagers call it a mountain, everyone else calls it a hilltop.
I want to call it an adventure.
Everyone we meet are prepared with hiking boots and walking sticks,
we are armed with sneakers and half a sausage roll.
This wasn’t where we thought today was gonna lead us.
Four hours up and four hours down,
we scale steps carved into the hillside,
past trees that have grown into each other
to seek refuge in numbers
from the sharp sea air,
gusts coming in from the northern sea.

Beneath us, Swanage wanes away.
The bay grows smaller and smaller,
until you could fit the entire town between your thumb and ring finger,
lift it up and put it in your palm.
Maybe that’s what I’m trying to do;
Lift Swanage out of its little nook between the hills and the unforgiving ocean,
nestle all the teacups and barefoot walks along the beach
into the crook of my neck,
keep it there to remind myself of the times I’ve felt like I belong here.

I clutch your hand in mine,
feel your nails against my skin.
In front of us, the terrain evens out.
Two chalk rocks stand side by side,
broken away from the hillside, they hold each other up.
They’ve been standing since long before the town came to be,
just as the town will be here
long after I have left.

-Andrea

“Part of the Architecture”

The sound of an organ woken from slumber
trickles out into the cold October night.
“Come on in, hear my tales,” it whispers,
as the streetlights catch on the Poor men’s Bible,
and the pitter patter of impatient feet echoes through the empty aisle.

The tales are of sneakers that blink with every step
and dress shoes that carry the weight of embraces that will never be.
Candle wax and sacred dust,
the footsteps of the faithful,
bake sale pies and sleepovers in the altar ring.

As life moves in circles,
as the village lives and dies;
as teeth fall out and love notes are hidden under the pews
we all come to learn that
God may not be resting in these walls,
but all of our stories are.

-Andrea

55 of my Favourite Things

~ my tiny house in this new city ~ my finished degree ~ the degree I’m working on at the moment ~ learning languages ~ postcards ~ holding hands ~ anything blue ~ wordless books ~ old notebooks ~ the little curiosity robot on March ~ scented candles ~ tiny ear piercings ~ orange leaves ~ home cooked meals ~ the Hamilton Soundtrack ~ planning trips and journeys ~ successful study groups ~ facetiming the people I miss ~ feeling acquaintances become friends ~ big chunky “disappear into the world of this story for the next four hours” books ~ books in general ~ jazz music ~ big blankets ~ fresh bed sheets ~ milk chocolate ~ the smell of laundry detergent ~ daisies ~ strawberry tea ~ Christmas lights ~ Christmas markets ~ theatre tickets ~ the sound of the orchestra tuning their instruments before a concert ~ cinema dates ~ the smell of ground coffee beans ~ lazy mornings ~ rain ~ bagels for breakfast ~ spaghetti carbonara ~ the plants I got for this house and have managed to keep alive for the better part of three months ~ stationery ~ whipped cream ~ coffee dates ~ when a film plot really surprises me ~ sleeping with the window open ~ crocheting ~ cuddles ~ quiet playlist ~ spontaneous dancing on the kitchen floor ~ fairy lights ~ people smiling ~ musical theatre ~ spoken word poetry ~ learning new things ~

-Andrea

#iweigh a love of tea and a BA I’m proud of

Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck in this cycle of not feeling good enough in your own body, especially when you’re constantly bombarded with images of what you’re supposed to look like and how you’re supposed to act.

Daily, multimillion dollar industries play at our insecurities, making us spend more money on their products by showing how happy glossy hair and smooth skin will make us. For many, the number on the scale feels like a punch in the stomach when standing alone in the bathroom, wet hair up in a tattered towel, in nothing but underwear, looking for affirmation in dead numbers. But it’s enough now.

#Iweigh is an initiative on Instagram, and the internet in general. It was started by British actor Jameela Jamil and has been embraced by women all over the world! The goal of the movement is for women to feel empowered by and measure themselves in their accomplishments and what they appreciate and are proud of.

A hashtag isn’t going to fix everything. A hashtag won’t immediately change the fact that 7 out of 10 girls feel like they don’t measure up, but if this movement teaches us anything, it is that we are so much more than our appearance and the number on that bathroom scale. We are worth the world just by existing, and we are worth every single proud moment we have ever achieved. We are worth the big crescendo in our favourite piece of music, coffee dates with our friends and good night messages from our loved ones. We are worth the compliments we give to others and the praise we hesitantly receive.

There were a couple of things I couldn’t fit in the picture, and so I’m adding them here:

#iweigh
-An affinity for experimenting with laundry detergent and washing up liquid
-The way I deal with emergencies
-My library job and everything I’ve learned through it
-All of my earlier jobs, volunteering opportunities and work experiences
-Three years abroad
-That I try to make the days good for the people around me
-That I can make you a really good cup of tea

And so much more!

I chose to use this picture even though I always feel a bit awkward posting selfies. However, this one was taken on my first day back at my new uni after taking a week off to attend the graduation ceremony at my old uni, I was drinking my favourite tea (Dorset Tea’s Strawberry and Cream), jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack in my head, and the leaves were turning yellow all around me. It was a wonderful moment, one of those where you’re 100% convinced that everything will work out in the end. It’s an image it feels right to use in this situation.

I hope you measure your worth in all the things that make you you, today x

Until next time,
-Andrea