Posts Tagged ‘email’

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community.

July 5, 2010

When I am on my driving lessons, my driving instructor (who lives around the corner from me and has done for the whole of my lifetime and probably many years prior to that) often points out people who he knows, chats about the various people who have lived and continue to live in certain houses and streets, and talks about life in Kingswood in general.  Most of the time, I can only nod my assent because I have no idea whom or what he is talking about; I only know the names and faces of the people who live within 3 doors of our house and across the road from it.  On the odd occasion that I am walking around the local area, I could quite happily walk past people who live on my street without recognising them.  This street is not and has never been a community to me; my town is just a place I live, and although it’s adequate (I like the fact that unlike other, more wealthy areas of the city, it doesn’t have a ‘grey’ atmosphere and I can see the sky – I’m not a total urbanite then!), I don’t feel any sense of community with the other people who live there; in fact, I feel like more of an alien (and with my dress sense, I look like one too).  I must add that I will stick up for where I come from, despite its chavvy, slightly dangerous reputation; I did get slightly offended by a comment made by one of the people on my careers guidance course at UWE; being a graduate of Spanish and French, I was asked “But in Kingswood, you don’t get an opportunity to practise your languages, do you?” This comment was accompanied by a smirk; I took slight offence because although it’s true that where I live is not a cultural hub and I don’t meet many people who are multi-lingual there, Kingswood is not formative of who I am.  Moreover, it’s not a bad place, and given that the area of Bristol that this person comes from is more renowned for crime and poverty than mine, it’s somewhat hypocritical and condescending.

Anyway, I went to Peterborough to spend the weekend with Toby last weekend, and I had a wonderful time, but I noticed that for him, life and his sense of community is different: he knows all of the people who live in his close and a lot of those who live in his village.  He went to school up the road from his house; he can point out many people in the photographs included in the local Parish News (I am unaware of Kingswood having a Parish News leaflet, or any kind of worthwhile community publication). It is interesting that I cannot do this.  I always went to school on the other side of the city, because my parents paid for my education and decided to send me to those schools (and based on my subsequent track record and academic success, I can’t quibble with their decision – it was pretty wise and with hindsight I would now have done the exact same thing).  When I went through a brief phase of playing with the family of girls who were my age and lived across the road from me, they had a group of kids who lived in the neighbouring streets as their friends: I knew none of these people because they all went to the same school down the road from our house; I went to a private school across the city.  We had different school holidays, different teachers, different friendship groups, different subjects.  In retrospect, that was most definitely for the best but at the time it felt like I had to work extra hard to fit in with them.  Despite living across the street, it was like I was visiting another world, their world, every time we would play together, and after a couple of years the visit wouldn’t be worth it, and we would just say hi without animosity as we occasionally passed each other on the street.

However, whereas Toby can name all of his neighbours and various people who live in his village (and I also understand that part of this is the difference between city / country-ish mentalities), I enjoy my popularity when I wander round the Bristol city centre – Mike commented once on a shopping excursion that it seemed as if I knew at least one person in every single shop (and there are a lot of shops).  This is an exaggeration of course, but not a massive one; I like shopping and I used to work in retail in that area, therefore my face is recognised in the area and I can recognise acquaintances who work there too. An amusing story is the Guess Boutique – whenever I go in the staff are extra-happy to see me because they still remember the time Toby & I went in and I fell in love with a bag that I could not afford; Toby & I left and I spent the whole of that Friday night babbling about the bag. Saturday lunchtime we returned to the store and I bought not only that bag that I had originally claimed was “too expensive” but also a hoodie to boot (it was on sale, there was only one and it was in my size, it was black and gold which are my colours – it was obviously fate so who am I to stand against destiny?). I don’t know if the staff there work on commission but I think that that day, they were very happy!  So I make friends in shops.  My friends who live in Bristol may have gone to school or university with me, but we came from all different parts of Bristol (and their experiences of commuting to find a community may be quite similar to mine) so urban centres, shopping districts, cafés and cinemas are our meeting points.

My point is, I have my own community of people whom I call my friends; friends are the family you can choose, as they say.  However, my friends are all dotted about the city (and beyond that, the country); the way we keep in touch is via telephone, email and internet most of the time; and when we want to meet in person, it’s got to be an arranged thing rather than a spontaneous wander down the road.  Although it can feel slightly isolating living where you have no real connection to anyone else in the immediate vicinity, it’s made irrelevant by the fact that I can speak to and arrange to see a lot of my friends within very little time; and that my friends are so, so good to me.  I think that having my own space is something that I value too; at the end of the day, I can retreat to my home and have a little time for me, safe in the knowledge that I’m not going to bump into or be harassed by anyone who knows me.  I can be anonymous, think independently, live as I choose without any fear of anyone whom I care about judging me. I know that in Kingswood, I dress differently, I wear different clothes, I speak and think differently to the majority.  I would never change that; I like being my own person and I won’t ever change to conform (a hard lesson that built my character during my school years). But it’s made easier when I’m surrounded by people with whom I have absolutely no desire to fit in. My community, the people whom I love and value, are my friends; my community is not local but instead city-wide, national, and one day I hope it will be global.

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switch off and breathe.

May 17, 2010

For all of the time that I do spend on my Macbook, texting on my phone, and attached to my iPod, lately I’ve started feeling that my personal reliance on technology, as well as our dependence on it as a society, is getting on my nerves a little bit.  I freely admit I could not live without my iPod, but to me that is an addiction to music rather than an addiction to electronics; music is something I know I could never give up, as I’ve always been around music since I can remember. As a child, if it wasn’t on TV, radio or the stereo as my mother and I danced around the living room to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, then I was singing it.

Even though I had my first mobile phone at 14, I can remember not even wanting one initially – I got it for my 14th birthday with a sparkly cover (my penchant for shiny things has always been well known) and I said to my dad “I told you I didn’t need one!”.  I didn’t really use it until I started my first part-time job at WHSmith when I was 16, and suddenly I had an exciting, interesting friendship group outside of school – people who were cool, who hadn’t known me for the last 5 years and had therefore formed preconceptions and misconceptions about me, and with whom I could socialise.  Suddenly I was texting and spending my credit like water, and my mobile phone seemed to come into its own.  Today, again I couldn’t be without one, and I use it to tweet, send messages, call people if necessary, record song ideas on the go and generally kill time.  But then, life simply seems to have changed in the last 10 years; it’s just expected for everyone to have a mobile phone, it’s convenient for meeting people (in the days before texts to say you’re running late or there’s been a change of plan / venue, you had to arrange meets in advance and be where you said you were gonna be, when you said you were gonna be there!), they can come in invaluable in unforeseen circumstances or emergencies… they’re a logistical and social necessity.  And yet we survived fine without them 10 years ago… Well, I’m glad in that instance that we’ve come 10 years further.

I adore my Macbook, and I couldn’t imagine getting through my university degrees without it.  I remember when my dad gave me his black ex-work laptop to take with me to university; I felt so grown up, 18 years old in a new city with my very own laptop!  When I knocked water all over that laptop approximately 3 weeks later and destroyed it beyond repair, I had to survive two weeks (!!!, though this felt like an eternity at the time) completing essays by hand, watching DVDs on my friend’s computer, and checking emails in the communal computer room.  It was a massive inconvenience, and it really made me appreciate just how much easier computers have made my working life.  In terms of pleasure, music allows me to keep up with (and download) all of the music that I’m interested in.  It allows me to write this blog and share it with you all.  It allows me to produce and record my songs and create albums like Quiet Storm which is my pride and joy, and I’ve felt so privileged to be able to share that with all of you.  It’s allowed me to make new friends through myspace and twitter, some of whom I now hold very dear to me.  I wouldn’t have gotten to know my boyfriend and realise just how compatible we are without MSN.

And yet, despite all of these obvious considerable pluses, I’ve felt myself getting a teensy bit annoyed.  I deleted my facebook a week and a half ago because all of the constant notifications (most of which I had turned off, except then they were clogged up on my profile every time I logged in), the tension between having high privacy settings and resulting awkwardness from restricting certain people who believe they have more of a right to my life than they actually do, the user-unfriendly profile format updates and general invasiveness of it all had just got to the point where I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.  Unlike twitter, which is quick, easy and on-the-go, I found that facebook was becoming a cumbersome site which does everything very well (and I will miss the photo-sharing facilities it had), but sorta places an onus on you to join in with every single aspect of it.  I like that only a select few of my friends have twitter; it allows me to have a little in-crowd, without having to either censor myself or let everyone in the whole world know exactly what’s going on with me.  On facebook, I found that people whom I barely knew were adding me as friends, and after a short period of rejecting them, eventually I just acquiesced because if they were that desperate to be my friend, they might as well inflate my friend count.  In short, it just wasn’t fun anymore.

And yet, I felt scared to delete it, because it’s become such an institution.  When deactivating my account, facebook’s last stand was to show me pictures of my closest friends along with “Nana will miss you.” “Sarah will miss you.” “Nathalie will miss you.” “Hannah will miss you.” “Toby will miss you.” “Mike will miss you.” My heart panged for a fraction of a second, and then I realised: all of these people have my mobile number, my email, my address.  If they really wanna talk to me, or I really wanna talk to them, I will make an effort to do so in a more personal way than facebook offers.  At that point, I got pissed off by facebook’s attempt to emotionally blackmail me into using their service, and decisively deactivated my account.  That was a week and a half ago, and I haven’t really missed it nor felt tempted to return.  I feel emancipated… I’ll let you know how I get on and if I eventually return to the fold!  But I’d like to say that I won’t 😉

I spend a lot of my weekends with my laptop taking advantage of the wi-fi in Starbucks in Cabot Circus.  Usually I’m getting work done that I can’t get done at home, but sometimes I’m blogging or doing various other things.  I remember having to steal neighbours’ wireless internet at home, and the signal constantly cutting out because I would move my laptop a fraction out of range.  I appreciate now how lucky and how convenient it is to have a stable internet at my fingertips.  But sometimes, if I don’t need to do work, dragging my laptop everywhere is somewhat cumbersome (and my laptop’s not exactly huge!).  Between laptop and power adaptor, it takes up a lot of space in my bag (leaving less for necessary cosmetics, obviously) and gets quite heavy.  So the last two weekends I’ve made a point of leaving my computer at home.  I use my Macbook most evenings, I usually fire it up in the morning while I’m getting ready for uni / work / placement / whatever I’m up to.  So in retrospect, I don’t need to carry it wherever I go (especially since half the point of my most recent mobile phone was that it has mobile internet browsing).  And that’s exactly it.  Technology is a massive convenience, a fantastically useful tool that has revolutionised my life exactly as it’s revolutionised yours.  Or if not exactly, then in similar ways.  I appreciate it and I can remember enough instances of it failing that I generally don’t take it for granted, despite being under 25 and therefore a “digital native” (if you’re over 25, you’re a “digital immigrant”, so now you know!!! 😛 ).  But I don’t want to turn into somebody who doesn’t know how to live without technology.  I used to be happy just singing songs, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching TV and reading books – no internet, no cell, no computer, no iPod, no Playstation.  I could spend days doing simple things like that, and while I’m sure that these days I’d get bored after a while, I want to know from time to time that I’m still capable of living independent of these things that I feel I need, that we’ve all become used to thinking that we need, but we don’t really.  We may need them to survive in our contemporary social landscape, but our lives won’t physically end without them.  I’m currently trying to teach myself that.

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hoax.

August 12, 2009

I remember a quote from Cruel Intentions which is a great place for me to start today.  At some point, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character says to Selma Blair’s character re. sex (I think), “Everybody does it, but nobody talks about it.”  I feel that I am on to discovering something about office work.

Largely, people sit around doing nothing.

Ok, you can all feel free to say “duh”, but let me walk you through my day at work today.  It is not very long and not particularly exciting.

08:50 Arrive at work, open up my laptop and discover my boss is not going to be in at all this week.  (I only work Weds – Fri)  So much for needing to be “supervised”!  Ever since the first two days of my job, I have worked unaccompanied and contact my boss (who works from home) via email.  Mine are full and courteous and punctuated and friendly, his are one-line responses which suggest he doesn’t really like using the computer.  I won’t take it personally though, because this appears to be how everyone communicates at the hospital.

09:00 I set about delivering the small amounts of stock that need to be distributed to wards.  At the dental hospital, I encounter an intercom that nobody appears to answer.  After 5 minutes, a man walks up to me and informs me that he can’t let me in because he “doesn’t know who I am”.  I show him my clerical NHS badge and he decides to help me.  Once inside the building, I find all the admin desks are manned, so why nobody was answering the intercom remains a mystery to me.

11:15 I attend a Swine Flu Information presentation for half an hour, which involves watching a Powerpoint Presentation while a nurse delivers incredibly obvious statements such as: “Swine flu is different from seasonal flu, because you can catch swine flu all the year round” (I nearly raise my hand and respond “yes, this month is August and therefore not the winter”, but restrain myself) and “if you think you might have swine flu, go on the swine flu website”.  Nevertheless, I stay awake.

12:30 After returning from the presentation, I start doing some more Health & Safety online training (which I’m supposed to do as part of my induction, just as I am supposed to be “supervised” at the start of my placement).  Halfway through a module, it decides to not work, so I go for lunch to McDonalds.  The queue is ridiculous, especially considering that there is another McDonalds about 5 minutes’ walk away.  Obviously it’s the eating venue of choice in central Bristol.  I haven’t been for a couple of months in the interest of my health, but I indulge today and my burger and chips and dips are suitably yummy.  I read some more of Glamorama, which I am thoroughly enjoying.  Bret Easton Ellis is my authorial discovery of the year methinks! (I know, I am late)

13:30 I return to the office, making small talk with one of the nurses and encountering no success with running my Health & Safety tutorial.  I do a couple of other tasks, then return and call the IT Helpdesk for the third day running on this job.  (I have worked there a total of 4 days.) I inform them of the problem, and the guy valiantly tries to fix it through remote access to my laptop.  Of course, he fails.  I am promised that an engineer will contact me and come to fix the connection issue.  The nurse in the adjacent office tells me just to use one of the vacant computers at a nearby desk, and I finish my tutorial.  I “learn” how to roll my eyes, shrug my shoulders and wiggle my fingers, all in the interests of maintaining flexibility in my limbs and avoiding RSI.  I also defiantly slouch in my chair, rather than obeying the rigid recommended posture (with a picture of a spinal column for my reference).

16:15 I call the IT helpdesk for a third time to inform them that I will be going home, as the engineer hasn’t called and if he were to call now, I wouldn’t be there.  The man on the other end of the phone believes that I am implying that the engineer did not come fast enough, and begins to get huffy with me.  Those exercises came in useful after all: I copiously roll my eyes.  I am promised that somebody will call tomorrow.  I go to the nurse next door, Julia, who has kindly volunteered to sign my timesheet in my boss’ absence, except nobody knows what band or code I am supposed to be entered under.  We go down the corridor to the temp bank office, who inform us that “it doesn’t matter, they can fill it in”.  Julia is as bemused as me, and I go home.

My day seemed to be a battle to find things to do.  I spent quite a lot of empty periods smoking, texting, on MSN on my phone, playing Minesweeper on my laptop, and although I perhaps shouldn’t be complaining, I really am not stimulated!  I am slightly warmed by the fact that I am getting paid for this.  My boss constantly reminds me to “take my time” because I apparently complete his tasks too quickly, but I don’t exactly rush.  Being unsupervised and left to my own devices, and considering that my job involves walking all over the hospital, I could quite happily walk to Starbucks for an hour and have a coffee and read my book, undiscovered and getting paid for it all the while.  I’m not sure if I feel audacious enough to do this, but considering that my boss already emailed me saying “tomorrow will be a light day” (as if today were a heavy one!!!!!!!11), the fact I’m considering it doesn’t bode well.  Well, it does for Starbucks’ pockets and for my caffeine intake, I suppose.  But if this is the working world, and if this is how most people work (I reiterate that I work in a hospital, where time is usually of the essence and in principle, lives hang in the balance) day to day, I am going to need more stimulation.  I dream of working for Gucci, for Armani, for Prada and shaping the whole world through fashion while rushing from place to place, flanked by fabulous forward-thinking fashionistas and speaking into 3 different cell phones in 3 different languages.  I dream of being a famous singer and travelling day and night from country to country, singing and dancing my ass off and making hordes of people smile and laugh.  I don’t particularly dream of daydreaming (how meta) as I sit uninterrupted at my desk, typing emails and maintaining spreadsheets, but I guess it is better than the Perfume Shop! It’s certainly easier work for better status and pay, but I just feel like I am uncovering a big hoax, that the people who do supposedly vital or important jobs aren’t really any brighter than you or me (often, less so).  I guess that I should have known all along. *rolls eyes*

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friendship day.

August 2, 2009

I logged onto Twitter this morning and in the trending topics was “Happy Friendship Day”.  Now I didn’t know what this was because in England we don’t have “Friendship Day”, but I think that the sentiment is nice. Though at the same time, really we should appreciate our friends (just as with our mothers, fathers, grandparents and valentines) more than one day a year, it’s nice to have a day dedicated to cherishing our friends.  I am lucky to have accumulated a few very close friends around me (you know who you are) who are always willing to listen to me and help me out, and I’ve helped them out a fair few times myself.  We are honest with each other, and we are comfortable enough with each other to not have to fill every waking moment with chitchat.  We can big-talk, and we can small-talk, and it’s all fine because we enjoy spending time together.  So I wanted to thank my friends for being true friends.

I also wanted to touch on when people say (leaving high school or university in particular, this is common) “we really must keep in touch!”  I never really stress over keeping in touch with people, and I am not somebody who sends out mass emails or letters informing everyone of what I’m up to (usually because I would not have enough major stuff to fill half a page, and I could blabber on about minutiae for a book’s worth) – my philosophy is that if you want to keep in touch with somebody because they are that important to you, it won’t be an “effort” because it will be something you genuinely want to do.  If you and the other person let a friendship drift, then it just means that you’ve both moved on to other things in your lives and your friendship wasn’t built to last.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and it shouldn’t spoil the good times you had together – it shouldn’t tarnish the memories.  Sometimes people just move on, and nobody can take everything and everyone with them, otherwise you’re not moving on.  I don’t feel any bitterness towards people with whom I used to be friends with and from whom I’ve drifted apart, because that was just the way it was meant to be, and I am grateful that I had positive times with them rather than negative.  The occasional card / email / letter / text message is enough commitment for both of us, and it’s nice to know that we haven’t forgotten one another – friends can glow fondly in your memories even if they’re no longer with you! So I feel very zen about it all, and I wanted to take this day to appreciate my friends past and present, and future too. 🙂

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communication.

July 23, 2009

Certain situations lately have been making me think of the “Communicate” interlude from TLC’s Fanmail

“Communication is the key to life
Communication is the key to love
Communication is the key to us

There’s over a thousand ways
To communicate in our world today
And it’s a shame
That we don’t connect

So if you also feel the need
For us to come together
Will you communicate with me?”

We have so many avenues of communication open to us nowadays: face to face, email, telephone call, text message, blog, vlog, instant messengers, chatrooms and forums, twitter and social networking… It’s so easy to keep in touch with people (and now I can do it all on my beautiful Prada phone, more or less!) that it’s almost overwhelming choosing the method of communication.  Do you text, email, write a letter, call on the phone?  Different people suit / prefer different methods, and some are more anonymous while others are intimate and suggest more effort and attention.  A situation last night occurred where I sent a text message to B to see how he was, and he didn’t reply because his phone was on silent… meanwhile, he sends me a message on a different, completely unrelated site asking me how my day had been and everything! I was touched that he thought of me as much as I of him… but it was a bit frustrating that there are so many avenues of communication open to us that it is almost a problem to remember to be consistent!  You can hit me up on twitter, myspace, vox, last.fm, facebook, on my cell (well, if you have my number 😉 ), email, msn… how do people choose?  And is it not surprising that problems occur when we don’t check all of these different places for messages every day?
The other thing I quickly wanted to address tonight is why I am writing this blog.  In my introductory post I was in a bit of a crazy mood and I was being inspired by Bai Ling‘s insanity… but now I realise that that is something special that cannot be duplicated!  As fun as it sounded at the time, I don’t really think I am into aping Bai Ling (well, not often). And surprisingly, I have my own things to say! I’m touched that people are taking the time to read, be it my views on relationships, the internet, sexuality or just life, and the music reviews and videos and downloads I post for you all. 🙂  It’s thrilling that I can share myself so openly with you all, and I’m touched that you are all reading it and keeping up with me! I hope that you keep coming back because at the moment I still have plenty to write about (how’s that for tempting writer’s block! 😛 ) and I have lots of music-related stuff in store also. 😉 At the end of the day, this blog allows me to communicate in a more full way than twitter (my other current favourite avenue of inet-based communication), which is definitely great for on-the-go updates of where I am and what I’m doing… but this blog here allows me to expose my thoughts and communicate with you all on a deeper level.  Thankyou for listening, and please don’t hesitate to communicate with me, however you prefer.