Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

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my robot is better than your robot…?

August 16, 2011

Check out the new video from www.iamfirst.com, an American initiative to encourage more students to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at school and beyond. It features various celebrities highlighting the importance of science, including Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, will.i.am, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Jack Black.

While I think that trying to engage young people in STEM subjects (or any academic subjects at school) can only be a good thing, this video is all wrong for several reasons – which are outlined in my resulting questions from the video, listed below.

  • Why is will.i.am wearing a blood pressure cuff?
  • Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber don’t even go to school!
  • Reciting names of elements does not make one a scientist.
  • What is a Doctor of Thinkology, and what scientific careers value this qualification?
  • Phones and pianos are made of science! Ergo geeks are great and you should become one!
  • WHERE ARE THE ROBOTS? I certainly don’t have a robot. I didn’t see any of these celebrities’ robots!? So how can their robots be better than my robot?
  • I am quite confident that Einstein was not a rockstar.
  • How shiny is will.i.am’s chest? Surely that’s not natural. Perhaps HE is the robot?
  • So people should take jobs in science, engineering, maths and robotics because there are more jobs there than in basketball (which I thought was obvious)? Not because they might be any good at science, or want to study it further? Surely we should be encouraging young people to follow their dreams and make use of their talents and aptitudes, not just advise them to choose careers based on which sectors have more jobs?
  • Robotics and science is the future, because robots are all futuristic and shit… yeah.

I agree with will.i.am that if every school has a basketball court, then they should also have a science programme. That is perhaps one of the few sensible suggestions to come out of this video. Also, he says that educating our youth and getting them equipped for tomorrow is important, and I wholeheartedly agree. My issue is that this video is not educational – they have basically thrown a bunch of celebrities at the screen, told them to say “Science is cool!” and hope that kids buy it. How does this equip them? What concrete knowledge does this video share? Our youth is surely not naive enough to buy into something without concrete reasoning of why science is important – saying that scientists made an iPhone is not enough! I would suggest that emphasising the importance of STEM subjects in order to go into a range of careers, increasing earning prospects, mentioning specific job fields where vacancies and progression are available would have been the way to go. Young people need and crave this kind of information when they’re making their subject choices, university and college applications, and so on. This video is a bit nothing-y, at the end of the day.

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important.

April 11, 2011

First of all, a gift / apology for not having written in such a long time! This is a new (well, new to you guys!) song called “Important”, which I did nearly a year and a half ago now – just after I finished and released Quiet Storm, so it was too late to put it onto that album. I was inspired (as is probably evident) by Beyoncé’s “Broken-Hearted Girl” musically, while the lyrics were part of my attempt to delve a little bit deeper with my lyrics. One of my aims for my new album is to talk more eloquently and honestly about love and relationships, because over the past 18 months I have experienced love, experienced relationships and friendships in such a new way. In that respect, this song precedes the timeline for my inspiration, but still fits the brief 😉 It’s just a demo version and still needs a little polishing up (and of course there is no guarantee it’ll make the final tracklist) but I like it and I hope you do too 🙂

One of the things that the song talks about is knowing your priorities and having them straight, in a relationship and in friendships. I have lately had to reprioritise my own life – financially, my car has pretty much taken over and if I am going to London to see Toby, running my car, paying rent and affording all my unavoidable expenses, I have had to accept cutting back on luxuries. I go out for coffee / dinner / cinema less, which is a shame because that means I see less of my friends. I spend less money on clothes and entertainment, and although my lust for them is undiminished, I can’t entertain getting a pretty designer thingummy any time in the near future because I just need to spend the money on other things. Once I move to London, even though my salary will increase, the need to budget intelligently is only going to intensify. I was saying to Toby yesterday that perhaps although I was rationalising at the time (with a grin on my face as I never thought I’d have to go through with it), I am glad I got my fancy jewellery and phone and sunglasses and all my designer things over the last couple of years, because they are things I treasure and now I have to make them last – now that I have them, I don’t need to get any more! My iPod (which I have had for 2 and a half years – the longest surviving iPod yet!) recently started playing up, which greatly irritated me – especially as I got a brand new car stereo so I can plug my iPod into it and play whatever music takes me mood – and I have had to spend quite a few hours over the past few days fixing it, because I can’t survive without music and I simply can’t afford another one right now.

Beyond material things, I need to treasure my friendships and my relationship. The inconveniences I have listed above are just that – inconvenient but not life-threatening! A couple of years ago, I could literally not survive without my iPod. But now, I think I could do it. I wouldn’t like it, but I could do it – other material things such as my phone, my laptop, my car have taken precedence. But my priorities have changed also. What’s important to me is keeping my relationship with Toby happy (which it seems to be up to now, and I realise that this is something to truly cherish), being a good friend and keeping a good circle of friends around me (which I feel I now have), and moving to London and building a career and a life for myself. All of a sudden, having a nice place to live in the city, having a good job and financial stability are important considerations. When did I become a grown-up?

I watched For Colored Girls today, which I had been desperate to do – and now I am desperate to read Ntozake Shange’s original choreopoem, which I shall probably purchase tonight or tomorrow. It reminded me that all of us have our own issues, our own baggage and our own insecurities which we need to conquer, but too often we struggle alone with these burdens rather than shouldering them with our friends and family to both help us cope and draw us closer together. I saw my friend Sarah yesterday whom I hadn’t seen since November, and while it was really good to see her, I found that I didn’t really know what to say to her to connect and recapture the friendship we had at university. Hopefully this is just a blip and next time we get together we can have a more effective catch-up; after 45 minutes, she had to go, but before she left she told me “not to leave it so long next time!” My life has become busy to the extent that try as I might, I can’t see all of my friends as much as I would like. And this is a shame, because when I’m at home in Bristol I can easily get lonely and no matter how much music, how many possessions I have, how many films I watch or PS3 games I play, I still feel bored and cabin-feverish. So I cherish my friendships, I cherish my relationship and how lovely it is, I cherish the things that I have, I cherish my emotions and both my ups and downs. And the real priority is making sure that I remain grateful and don’t become complacent about everything that I have. I may not be satisfied, because I have so much more in my life that I want to accomplish – but I am somewhat happy with my life and that is a really Good Thing.

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empowerment.

February 18, 2010

Yesterday, I decided to get back on the horse and take my first steps towards accomplishing one of my goals for 2010, which is to pass my driving test and get a car.  I’m 24 years old, I’ll need a car for jobs once I finish my current university course, and I also just want to take this step towards freedom.  I feel a little guilty relying on friends who drive, and I want to repay the favour; I’m tired of getting the bus, I’m tired of having to leave Toby’s at 10:30pm just so that I can get home.  I want to do what I want when I want.  So I took my driving theory test for the first time in 6 years, and I passed it.  So onto the practical! I have a CD-ROM to help with this (though I have yet to view it, and unless the CD puts me in a car, I’m unsure as to how helpful it’ll actually be), and I’m going to book an intensive course for a week in the Easter holidays, hopefully with a practical test attached at the end which I can pass and then get my licence.

When I was 18, I took this practical driving test 3 times, and kept failing. The first time, I nearly passed (and perhaps should have), but the second and third time my nerves got the better of me and I couldn’t function effectively.  I know that driving is an industry and examiners are unnecessarily rigid, because they can get money out of people retaking tests.  But I just need to get my shit together and give them an excuse not to fail me.  I’m hoping that being a bit older with more life experience will give me the strength I need to get through the test, but I have to acknowledge the fact that I’m still nervous about it!  But I’m going to try a different strategy (blitzing it in a week rather than taking a lesson each week might hopefully give me less time to get nervous) and my determination to pass – it’s a necessity! – might just see me through.  We’ll have to wait and see.

The theme of this blog entry is in the title – empowerment.  So far, 2010 is shaping up pretty well – two of my three goals seem to be progressing towards successful completion and it’s only mid-February.  I have a wonderful new boyfriend and I am slowly learning to be in a relationship with him.  I am halfway towards my driving licence, with the next steps clear in my mind (and my wallet, *sigh*), and Mike’s neighbour Andrea has a car (Peugeot 306 – nothing fancy but it’ll get me from A to B) which he is going to sell for £800 that I am considering purchasing (not only does he have to go through Mike who can be fearsome if necessary, but I’ve met Andrea myself so he’s unlikely to rip me off – I know where he lives!).  I have got a fantastic best friend at university with whom I am extremely likely to keep in contact after the course ends, and I have shed nearly all the weight I’m looking to shed.  I have got two tattoos that I love, that are exactly right for me, and I am making plans for the third (watch this space! It’s going to require some considerable designing though so I won’t be blogging it next week or anything 😛 ).  In other words, life is good right now. I’ve tried to keep my blog even, to reflect the positives and negatives, the joys and heartbreak in my life in equal measure, in a way that means you can see and feel what is personal to me but also in a way that’s not so personalised that nobody else can relate.  I’ve also blogged about music, fashion, perfume and other things that are personal interests of mine, but which are also interesting to the general population.

This blog itself, along with all of the aforementioned things in the above paragraph, are steps towards my own empowerment.  It’s funny how much can change in six months.  I have a lot of growing to do, but I look at myself and I have come quite far in quite a short amount of time.  I feel like an adult, like I’m not an ugly person but someone deserving and strong.  I can’t be strong 100% of the time, and that’s ok, but I’m stronger now than I used to be and I can see it, I can feel it.  And this journey is only beginning, I have more steps to take (car, job, financial stability, my own place) before I am anywhere near satisfied (hah!) but I acknowledge my progress towards independence and I feel good about it.  I can do this.  We have to empower ourselves each day to get a little bit further towards where we want to be, and I refuse to ever be powerless. This is what I realise now, and I am empowered.

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imbecilic.

August 16, 2009

Another thing from the wedding yesterday that I wanted to touch upon was the fact that depending on whom you are surrounded by, your every action can be made into a big mistake or faux pas.  For example, we were lining up for wedding photos, and I somehow ended up at the front (which was not where I wanted to be, nor where I thought was appropriate for me to be).  Other people weren’t really getting the hint that we were assembling for this mass photo, so for a while I was stood at the front by myself, because I am one of the tallest and therefore stood on the front / lowest step.  After a while, Aiman (the bride) stood next to me, and I said “I shouldn’t be standing next to you!!!” Everyone was like “OMG WHY?” My response: “Because that is Phil’s place, not mine! He’s her husband!!!” It makes sense, non?  So I tried to step backwards, despite people being stood behind me, and some of my friends were like “Alan, what are you doing?” a) My bag was quite robust, filled with my necessary stuff, and it was that, more than me, which was hitting their feet.  And b) It should have been pretty obvious what I was doing: I was trying to get out of the way of being right at the front of the picture, and allowing the focus to be on whom it really should have been on, considering it was not my wedding day.  So why was I made out to feel foolish and melodramatic?  Was my train of thought really so illogical, so difficult to understand?  I don’t think so, and even typing out this paragraph, it makes sense to me.

My university friends, by and large, make fun of: my proclivity for designer things and large black sunglasses (two of my friends laughed when I put them on.  I pointed at the emerging sun, and then also at another guest across the car park who was also wearing sunglasses.  Nobody was laughing at him.); my vanity; my ability to spend money.  They genuinely think that I am funny (and they also laugh at the joke-ish things I do on purpose), but I don’t think they realise that they sometimes hurt my feelings.  This is the way that I am, and I’m not constantly trying to amuse anybody.  It doesn’t seem to strike any of my other (read: Bristol) friends as hilarious that I put Prada sunglasses on when the sun is shining, nor that I get nervous anticipating an important life event for one of my friends.  It’s just me, and I don’t know why, coming from Oxford university, some people are so insecure that they want to try and put me down to feed into their own intelligence.  I know that I’m not bookish, but I also know that I’m not stupid.  So why does making me feel bad (or trying to) make them feel good?

Today I met up with two of my friends whom I haven’t seen for a good while: Mel and Erum.  They’re both making moves: Mel is in the middle of her Scandinavian Studies degree and currently working in the Cabinet Office on a summer internship; Erum is a law graduate about to start her LPC.  We were in Starbucks pondering school, relationships, jobs, politics, the economy & swine flu, among other things.  We also discussed current fashion, including those ridiculous visor sunglasses as worn (but not invented) by Kanye West.  In case you don’t know what I am referring to, I illustrate:

Okay, they are impractical, which is a major con.  But then so are Beyoncé’s “Diva” sunglasses which employ gold tassels hanging from a minimal frame, and I like those (plus, the fact that they hang vertically and move with the body means that you do have more of a chance of seeing where you’re going).  What I don’t like about these is that a) they are really quite ugly, and b) they are being sold everywhere as the “new biggest trend”.  Not just in white, but in neon colours.  People are wearing these to clubs (I have seen pictorial evidence, as well as witnessing it myself) where normal sunglasses would be ridiculed, despite the fact that normal sunglasses generally look 100% better.  And just because Kanye West wears them?  I have of course been inspired by various celebrity fashion statements, and seeking to copy that is perfectly understandable and acceptable; that’s what inspiration is.  But this is something else; it’s taking something quite clearly idiotic and pretending that it is cool and intelligent.  It feels like a conspiracy that everyone is in on, and I take a stand against that because if I don’t like something, I am not going to wear it and that’s that.  But don’t ridicule me for wearing fashionable designer glasses that look great, when there are people wearing these venetian blind things who can’t even see where they’re going!  I mean, wtf?

Who decides what is “foolish” and what “isn’t”?  I do what I like, and I use my common sense, and I think that everybody is entitled to do that.  But what irritates me is when I make decisions that to me seem logical, and others want to pick on that for whatever reason, but they are quite happy to ignore / accept other things that are clearly beyond sensible.  Are we, as the general public, really that insecure that we’re willing to knock down one person just to make ourselves feel better, but then able to pass an imbecilic trend just because it was started / revived by a celebrity who has more money / status than the majority of us, the general public?  If Madonna jumped off the Empire State Building, would we all climb up there to follow?  (The paparazzi would certainly be crowded around at the bottom, snapping the impact point to make numerous tributes in special-edition magazines… just look at Michael Jackson).  I guess that it all depends on how caught up we are in appearances, and I am very conscious of the way that I look.  But the final decision is made by me, and if others want to try and knock me down for doing something that I choose, or for not following a herd of sheep, then let them; I have my insecurities, but one of them is not following the crowd when I would prefer to follow my instincts.

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love or money.

July 22, 2009

Generally, the media and society villify those who get married for convenience, or for money.  We brand them “golddiggers”, we make songs mocking them (hello Kanye), and we generally feel that they don’t act in the spirit of marriage, which should be for life and for love.  I don’t disagree, but then on the other hand, we admire high-flying career men and women who really go after what they want (which is money) while sacrificing their personal relationships to do more work at the office.  I think that is an impressive sacrifice to make, but the message seems to be one minute that love is the most important thing there is, and the next minute that you have to think of yourself and put your financial security above all things.  To me, these messages contrast.

I am always someone who will say “you have to do what makes you happy”, and I genuinely believe that.  But after a year of not really going very far after my degree, I find myself at a fork in the road: do I pursue something I am interested in that will cost me more money (a year’s diploma in Careers Guidance, after which I can get a job with Connexions as a Youth Adviser), or do I give up trying to do something I will like and instead do something that will make me lots of money? For sure, I like money.  I like buying designer clothes, I like the idea of having a car, I like jewellery, I like the idea of living somewhere that I can afford by myself. I like the idea of being self sufficient, I like the idea of not having to keep a constant eye on my bank account before making plans to go out.  I think that wealth will suit me just fine, and I think I would be good at being rich.

But at the same time, I’m 23 years old, and I want to do it on my own terms rather than because someone told me what I should do.  I was told I should go to Oxford, that I should not try for my singing career, that I shouldn’t even study the subjects I chose (I dug my heels in).  And sometimes I would do what I wanted, and other times I would choose to trust in others whom I presumed had better judgment and more life experience.  After all, I dont know everything, but I do know that I want the best for myself.  And so far, perhaps I should have trusted my own intuition a little bit more and others’ a little bit less… but then maybe I would be in a worse position than now.  Who knows – “what if” is at once a wonderful and a useless phrase. As it stands, I’m not too badly off, but I feel like I am at a crossroads where I’m being forced to choose between doing something that I might genuinely enjoy and could also help other people (which I think would be a really good thing), and doing something that would be a mundane 9 to 5, but bring in the money and allow me to kickstart my independence one year sooner and keep me in the Armani to which I have become accustomed.  After all, I don’t like the thought of having another loan to put me through this extra year of study, I don’t like the idea of living at home another year and possibly going insane (and my parents are pretty decent and respect my privacy somewhat), and I don’t like the prospect of being dependent on a low income.  But I like the prospect of getting another qualification that will open up a path towards doing something I have discovered I am more and more passionate about (I owe Sapphire and her book “Push” a hell of a lot – you must read it!).

So am I being naive? Am I cutting my nose off to spite my face?  Or am I right on for trying to pursue something I am genuinely passionate about?  After all, once I have landed the job after qualifying, I will be making a decent amount of money even on my starting salary.  Should I sacrifice my finances for one more year and hope that this path works out, or should I sacrifice my happiness to take a job that doesn’t interest me but will pay me right now?  Everyone makes sacrifices, but I don’t know what is best in this case.  I thought that money wasn’t the be all and end all, but in the recession, is it smarter to put money in the bank or to get a qualification so I can do something I am passionate about that can influence the community and give more chances to the youth coming up?  I know which I prefer, but I am trying not to be blind and genuinely wondering which is best?  Love or money?

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easy to get.

July 14, 2009

When my friends would ask me for dating and relationship advice, one of my steadfast rules would always be to play hard to get.  Along with not going all the way on the first night, and meeting in a public place, I would always recommend playing hard to get because it makes you more tantalising to the other person.  Why shouldn’t you be chased a little bit?  And if they don’t make a little bit of effort in pursuing you, they’re probably not worth it.

That’s what I would say, anyway.  But of course it’s so much easier when you’re the person giving the advice than when it’s your turn to follow that advice.  There are two problems that I currently have with playing hard to get.  1) If you play hard to get and act like you don’t care (ice king / queen was always a good thing to me), they may also be playing hard to get and you end up drifting apart. Or they might end up thinking you genuinely aren’t interested and don’t care, which triggers unfortunate backpedalling on your part that comes across ultimately as a little desperate.  2) This time, I don’t even seem to want to play hard to get.

Call it laziness, call it hypocritical. But I’ve been talking to this guy for a few days now and it feels like we are fully into the flirting stage.  We already had some potentially awkward conversations about sex, relationships, family, jobs, money… and those have more or less been navigated without a hitch.  The fact that he is able to converse with me in a full and sensible way, without waiting around for me or texting me constantly suggests that he is both balanced and has a brain (which puts him above 80% of the people whom I have met in a potential dating capacity… usually the potential is not capitalised upon).  He’s attractive (take my word for it).  He is definitely who he says he is, and he knows that I am who I say I am.  We both seem to admit to having our flaws.  I don’t detect any hint of fakeness so far, we don’t agree on absolutely everything but we have a fair amount in common, which is realistic I guess.

And so I’ve spent the last 3 or 4 nights talking to him until 2am, which is something I only usually do with my closest friends.  I’m under no illusions that I haven’t even met him in person yet, so this can quite feasibly all come crashing down if we don’t mesh as well in person as we do online. But I’m also aware that it’s been a long time since the portents were so promising… we’ve grown to flirt a lot, and we talked about things I am not going to mention in polite company (that’s you, dear reader) and he ended the conversation with that kiss emoticon thing, and my “mwah” in response.  He was going to have a shower, he was going to watch a film and he ended up speaking to me the whole night and putting aside his other plans.

The best part of it (well, all the parts are good really) is that we were trading youtube videos of songs and apart from them pretty much all being romantic in nature (I slipped in Janet Jackson’s Warmth at the end because I am a tease and that is the part about you being polite company and that’s all I’m going to say about it at this point 😛 ), we have the same taste.  This is such a rarity, I am honestly over the moon!  We diverge on a couple of things (he played me this dance chipmunk version of Belinda Carlisle’s “Summer Rain” which was atrocious, but sorta funny; for some reason he is not into Ciara that much) but generally we agree.  Here are a couple of the things he played me:

And here are some of the things I played him:

See what I mean? All sexy and romantic songs… I recommend listening to the ones that I chose in particular (hahahahaha!). 😉

Usually with my friends I end up drawing them to my music taste (I got both of my best friends to fall in love with Danity Kane), but in this case it may not even be necessary, as long as I don’t hear any more chipmunk music. I know I’ve inspired two of his msn usernames in the past day, and I’m even prepared to go back to this atrocious club I swore I’d never set foot in again, only because that’s where he fancies going.  Hard to get has more or less gone straight out of the window, and I know that I need to be careful but at the same time we still get on with our own lives.  Like I literally just spoke to him now (as I was writing this) and we had a brief conversation (he is redecorating his room) and then he was just like “Gotta go / have a good day / xx”.  The “xx” is very important (you shouldn’t need me to tell you!) but I find it so refreshing that he makes the effort, but still has his own life.  Like I said, it’s about having a balance I think, and I find it reassuring that we haven’t fallen head over heels for each other, because that would be a bit unrealistic and dangerous at this point.  If you asked me, I would still recommend playing hard to get and not being available the whole time, because I believe that normally that is the best approach (hypocrite alert! I know, I know). But at the same time, it’s nice to have someone to flirt with, something that looks so genuinely positive, and even if my policy of hard to get is going out of the window on this occasion, at least I’m having fun.

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just another day.

July 6, 2009

I don’t know if anyone else finds this, but when you’re into a book, you start narrating your life in your head in the same style as the author.  As I’ve mentioned in either the last post or the one before, I’m currently reading The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis, and its characters have a profound disconnect from their lives, for various reasons (daily medicating their lives with a curious combination of drugs, sex, anonymity and fame) rendering their day-to-day experiences utterly soulless and colourless.  So in this period of unemployment (now entering week 4! yay.) I can feel a veneer filming over my eyes with every day that passes, stopping me from becoming too depressed with the boredom of not having anything to do, but also stopping me from enjoying the things I do to distract myself from that boredom.

There’s only so many times I can call the hospital asking politely if they have any hours yet (why employ me for a job – I have a contract!!! – which effectively doesn’t exist) before I become disheartened.  There’s only so many times you can go to the gym and gaze at the sexy but incomprehensible Scottish bodybuilder (who now says hello to me, he’s a nice enough guy) before it becomes passé and I snap back to the reality of the treadmill.  My body is getting better but my standards are way out of reach because I always dreamed of being a singer and a fashion model.  I can have a coffee + refill at Starbucks and read my book and occasionally converse with someone else or people watch, and I find myself trying any tactic to escape my life and immerse myself in others’.  I go shopping and find nothing I want to buy – now, my friends will tell you that there must be something seriously wrong for this to be the case, but my standards have been raised by fashion magazines, and until River Island stocks Dior Homme (when not even Dior Homme’s website stocks the new season of Dior Homme!) I’m never going to find the clothes I want, yet alone at a price I can afford in my currently unemployed state (though by some stroke of luck, I’m not actually strapped for cash… yet).  So I just spark up another cigarette and numb myself as I walk along the street looking fierce in my Prada sunglasses (I dyed my hair black yesterday so it matches the shades… talk about reverse accessorising), because at least I can look the part even if it’s a lie.  Well, I am fierce, of course, but it doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere, and that’s the most frustrating thing of all.  So I try to escape that feeling of frustration, and end up escaping most emotions.

This became a bit of a moan, sorry.  On the plus side, I do look good and I’ve had plenty of time to spend with my family (my friends seem to have things to do – how I envy them).  I’ve also nearly finished my album, so I’ll keep updating y’all with that progress in the rare event that somebody reading might care… I am really proud of the concept, the sound and the songs, and I look forward to trying to promote it and release it and all that biz.  I’m reading more books and that makes me feel a little more educated and in touch with the real adult world.  After all, I’m a real adult and I suppose these are real adult feelings that I am learning to get to grips with.  But I always dreamed of something more, and although at 23 yo this is hardly the end of my life (well, you never know, but you know what I mean), I find myself all the same desperately questioning that “surely this can’t be it?!” University this September will hopefully kick-start things back into productivity… I should look at the plus column of my life because I’ve done really well so far… I guess I just don’t do inactivity or stasis or whatever you want to call it very well… it feels like limbo to me.  And until things get more exciting, today was just another day in a long string of days.  I hear that that is how some people define life… but I’m looking for a bit more than that.  Here’s to hoping that we all find more.