Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain



With the release of The Great Gatsby – which I am so excited about I could cry, I love that book and I love Leonardo DiCaprio so even if the film doesn’t do it justice, which is the curse of the book-to-film adaptations, I am sure it will still be an AMAZING movie. I’m watching it tomorrow. AHHH!

…Apologies, went off on a tangent there. My excitement clearly can’t be contained. As I was saying, with the release of The Great Gatsby I have been thinking about the word beautiful. I have been thinking a lot about beautiful and what it means and what it stands for, to me. I think Fitzgerald would agree with my very general conclusion that when I think of beautiful, the first split-second reaction is empty.

It sounds obvious because we all know that beauty – at least physical beauty, which is the one we all think about when first confronted with the word – is superficial. I spend a lot of my spare time staring at beautiful images, reading words that paint beautiful scenes and daydreaming of all the beautiful things I can do.

But, when I think of beauty and the word beautiful I don’t really feel anything at all. It doesn’t fill me with anything – not longing, not happiness, not sadness – nothing. It is just a void, an empty word because it doesn’t really mean anything at all.

I like to think that Fitzgerald thought the same thing. He appreciated beauty but his words and sentences and paragraphs and books, multi-layered as they are show, that beauty is empty. He writes in layers to hide the emptiness of the beauty and in doing so, makes beautiful seem hollow. That’s how the word feels to me.

Obviously I find beauty in things that fill me with joy but they are not necessarily beautiful. Or at least not the beautiful which we hold in such high regard in our capitalist society.

Beautiful is a little like a photograph that shows one tiny split second of a moment and nothing else. It is one dimensional and a peep-hole. It isn’t a feeling and nor does it evoke a long-standing one. You may say wow at something beautiful or be struck by a beautiful thing or person but that feeling is fleeting – it disappears and fades. It does not provoke anything for me.

There are many beautiful things in my life but they are more closely rooted with love, admiration, inspiration and hard work than they are with the actual word beautiful. And I think there’s some beauty in that.

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The C word

Everyone knows the C word, some people don’t like to say it. Some people fear it, others despise it, others accept it but I bet everyone has been affected by it in some way or another.

I first came face to face with cancer when I was 14. It seeped into our life through the phone and before I had time to process what it was doing to my grandmother, she was gone. Cancer stole so much from her so quickly. It started off as something small in her lungs that  nobody even noticed and three months later it decided to steal her from us. I had been lucky and had never experienced a death until then. I didn’t have time to figure out cancer before death showed its face.

Cancer is terrifying because it is associated with death and people fear death because it is the unknown. The word cancer is dripping with meaning and terrifying prospects, there are too many worst case scenarios that people forget that not all cancers are terminal. Cancer is scary because it’s part of you – it’s your cells multiplying too fast and creating a tumour. It can go undetected because of this. You can live with a tumour in you for a long time because they’re your cells and your body won’t attack it’s own cells. It’s like a stranger coming into your home, making himself comfortable and pretending to be family.

But I’m not trying to add fear to an already fearful word. The wonderful thing is that many cancers are now treatable and though treatment isn’t always easy, cancer should not continue to be so closely linked to death. More people die of cardiovascular diseases than cancer year on year and though I don’t want to become morbid here, death seems a natural link to cancer and it shouldn’t be.

People can overcome cancer, they can beat it. It’s done every single day. It’s hard and it’s painful but it can be done.

Research is being done continuously through charities, governments and drug companies to try and find a cure. It’s hard because cancer is a crazily complex disease – the boy studies biochemistry and has tried explaining it to me, it’s a little like a puzzle with missing pieces. Pieces that you have to create yourself to fit even though you’re not sure what the complete picture should look like.

There are hundreds of cancers out there and as terrifying as that sounds – most aren’t deadly if caught early enough. I recently read of a woman who had cancer but it was caught so early that a simple operation was able to remove the tumour and she was given the all-clear. Obviously more regular check-ups will now be necessary but it just proves that cancer does not have to be a scary word.

My friend’s father has just been diagnosed with testicular cancer for the second time and I couldn’t help but cry when I heard. It made me think of my grandmother and the sadness and desolation that I associate with the disease and then I realised that he hasn’t been handed a death sentence. He can fight it, like he has done before, and like he will again.

Cancer is shit and it’s hard for everyone that is touched by it. Everyone suffers, not just the person that gets the diagnosis and the suffering isn’t just what the disease is doing but the mental processes of having to deal with such a thing.

The best way of coping emotionally with the disease though is by talking about it. Many people close up when they hear the word cancer as if to talk about it makes it real. But talking about it, sharing fears will dissipate them and worries may not be settled but you can find comfort in each other. You can lean on each other for support and a network is stronger than an individual.

Emotional support is just as important in defeating a disease like cancer; because though the cancer may be affecting a part of your body, your emotional mentality is getting a beating too. Cancer will mess with your mind if you allow it to do so because the word is so heavy with feeling, history, emotion, fear and death. It’s a scary word.

Talking about something will ease that fear, it may not stop you feeling scared but comfort can be had in knowing others feel the same. Focus can be put on getting better and saying cancer with confidence and without fear is a challenge in itself. But it can be done, the word and the disease can be beaten.

My grandmother died of cancer but I remember not talking about it or even saying the word for a long time. I couldn’t talk about it without choking on tears and that fear that came with the word was suffocating. Talking about it helped. I can say the word cancer now without feeling like I’m sentencing her all over again. Removing the fear of the word is the first step, I think, in dealing with cancer emotionally. It’s something small and it may seem insignificant but you have to learn to walk before you can run.

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Don’t hide it behind a joke

With friends, the line where boundaries can be crossed is a little further away than the line for strangers. It is usually even slightly further for family. It’s all about a level of trust and mutual knowledge of when enough is enough. But sometimes, things go over the top. So much in fact, that a person can be left feeling offended or upset. The reason a comment could have got so out of hand? It was wrapped in a joke.

The word joke now seems to be an umbrella term that includes things that aren’t very funny at all – which is what a joke is supposed to be. Like many words today, joke has lost most of its original meaning. Teasing is a joke, laughing at someone else is a joke. It just seems to me a little like people who are too cowardly to be branded offensive and so laugh everything off with a “it’s a joke.”

Which is ridiculous. I wouldn’t punch someone in the face and say that I was only playing. Even if we started off by play-fighting. I would acknowledge that I had taken it too far. But that has always been the blessing and curse of the spoken and written language. It is powerful.

A word’s power may mean more or less depending on the person, their mood, the setting. It all adds to those words. A word is a little like a sponge, it absorbs everything around it and this makes it a little more complex.

An example is racism and sexism. Although larger society knows that judging someone based on the colour of their skin or their reproductive organs in wrong, it does not stop people from making light humour of serious topics. This is fine to an extent, but it is very easy to over-step the mark.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion even if someone else dubs it an unfair one. Everyone is entitled to try their hand at being as funny as they think they are in their heads. Everyone is allowed to push boundaries a little but don’t hide offensive comments behind a joke. That just highlights that you know what you’re saying has passed any sort of decent limit.

To anger or upset someone and then claim it is all a joke only serves to show that you are happy to dismiss all your comments with a laugh and a smile.

People use the word joke as a way of explaining offensive comments or rude remarks. They use this against the person their words are directed to. After all, who should get offended by a joke apart from serious, dull and uptight people?

Shakespeare’s Juliet once claimed: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The same applies here. Just because you call a slightly racist comment a joke doesn’t make it one. The fact you have called an offensive comment about women a joke doesn’t dismiss the fact that you said it. It doesn’t wipe your slate clean.

The truth is, you can call a spider, a puppy as many times as you want and it doesn’t change the fact that the spider still has eight legs and can frighten whole populations of people. Calling something by another name does not change what that thing is. You’re just playing with semantics.

If you want to speak your mind, fine, do it. I don’t have to agree with what is said, like it or even condone it. After all, I am no more important than you are. But don’t pretend it’s something else. At least have the courage to say it and accept what you have just said. Change what you say, if you’re not comfortable with the words that have left your mouth. Don’t name it something else for your own self-conscience. You’re not fooling anybody.


Wild One

What is wild? According to the dictionary wild means: living in a state of nature; not tamed or domesticated. So essentially it’s someone that hasn’t had the training or the education to fit our society’s norms.

A lot of people, and if today’s music and films are to be believed someone that’s described as wild usually likes to drink, have fun, and live more for entertainment than anything else. They tend to cause their parent’s headaches. I guess that means I’m not wild. Yes, I get drunk every once in a while (a rarity of late due to work: my wild reputation would already be in tatters as a result) and yes sometimes I do stupid things but I’m not out of control which is what the word wild used in today’s manner implies. Strange really because I don’t see the word wild in this way. The word that springs to mind when I am told of reckless or irresponsible behaviour is stupid not wild. I don’t care if Drake sings that it’s his ‘birthday and he’ll get high if he wants to’ because he’s a wild guy. It doesn’t make the word mean substance abuse makes you a wild character.

I like to think that the word wild means acting on instinct. It means dancing in the rain because you want to, or climbing that mountain because you’ve always wanted to see the sunset from that high. It’s being brave enough to tell someone to ‘leave you alone’ because they’re a drain on your happiness, or taking the plunge and telling him or her that you love them. A wild animal isn’t stupid, they act on instinct; pouncing on their prey, attacking or running away when the time feels right. They want to survive so they live on instinct but that instinct tells them not to be stupid or reckless. They need to survive.

This is a wild animal (not the drunken person you saw staggering home on a Friday night)

I think that meaning of wild got lost in the plethora of singers singing about wild parties and films showing high teenagers having an ‘awesomely wild’ adventure. But that’s not wild, it’s just stupid. That’s ignoring all the instincts telling you to survive and be alert – just in case. I’m not judging people who drink (as I am guilty of enjoying the odd alcoholic beverage). I am not judging those that decided that having a good time is getting totally wasted on whatever substance you choose: vodka, weed or glue or all I know. But I do think people should be clear that that isn’t them being a crazy, wild and thus exciting person. It isn’t. Simple as.

Wild is bravery, acting on instinct to create amazing adventures that you’ll remember the morning after. Wild is throwing society’s constraints on you away and doing things your way. It’s being smart enough to live life properly doing wild and crazy things like a a parachute jump or swimming with sharks.

Being the wild one is being unafraid to live each day as if it is your last. Being the wild one doesn’t mean you want to being incoherent and lose control for a few hours all  for the honour of saying ‘man I was SO drunk last night’, being the wild one is being able to tell stories that sound like make-believe because they’re so incredible. It’s doing the impossible just because you can.

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A sincere apology

I want to start off by saying I’m very sorry for my sporadic posts of late; the whole issue of no internet and the fact when I’m on campus I do not really get anytime to myself means that blogging has sadly had to be left behind a little. The internet situation is still ongoing; but, luckily, this week wore jetpacks and flew past so only six days remain until the internet man arrives and I return to the 21st Century. I thought I’d explain, I really do appreciate all those that take the time to come and visit (and hopefully read) my posts. It’s quite a thrill to see that you’ve had a few people take the time out of their day to venture into your blogging cyberspace. It’s an even bigger thrill when you get likes or comments on the post (I do my happy dance EVERY time).

However I digress. My focus for this post is on the theme of apologies I’ve been thinking what constitutes a good apology? Obviously it has to be sincere. No point saying sorry begrudgingly just because you know the word has some sort of meaning. Although, saying that, I am one of those people that needs an apology if I’m genuinely angry as I feel it’s a sign of respect.

To me an apology is a recognition that wrong doing has been done. It’s an acknowledgement that even if the person doesn’t really agree that they were in the wrong, they understand that it has hurt or bothered someone else. And, due to a number of reasons including respect, they apologise.

It’s hard to apologise. I only apologise when I mean it. Which is arrogant and stubborn but I feel that that’s the least I can give someone if I’ve upset them. A few people don’t see it like that. The couple of times that I’ve actually been asked to apologise I’ve said no, not until I feel like I mean it. They tend to be stunned into silence or call me rude or whatever other names they can think of. I don’t mind though, I wait until they finish their rant, exhausted by their own anger and explain that even though right now they’re being silly, they deserve a meaningful apology. They go silent again and don’t seem to know what to say. Pretty sure those few people think I’m a bitch. Oh well. (FYI: I eventually apologised in the same conversation once I felt that it was meaningful, at least a little).

Of course, there are the fake apologies and everyone is guilty of them. It’s those apologies that don’t actually have any feeling behind them but are said because it’s the fastest way to resolve the situation. The apologies that fit into this category are not really apologies. You may as well just say cabbage to the person. The same effect is effectively made. But, due to the meanings that are typically associated with the word sorry, it is accepted. I guess it happens to every globally used phrase.

Words are nothing without meaning though. I’m a literature student and want to go into journalism so I probably believe this more strongly than the average person but it really is true. Words without meaning behind them when they are said or written are just scribbles on a page and sounds coming out of a mouth that has been able to manipulate them into coherent language.

An apology is up there with the ‘I hate you’, ‘I love you’, ‘I miss you’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for important words or phrases that are used on a daily basis. Without meaning it’s just another word, another sound. With meaning attached to the word ‘sorry’, that one little word can show respect, regret and love and a whole lot of other things dependent on each apology. A sincere apology is everything. If you don’t mean it, don’t bother.