My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the third of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in or my second quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of July, August, and September, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: Completed
I’ve definitely smashed through this challenge this year, to the point that I’m considering whether or not to up it to at least 75 books, or maybe 100 if I’m feeling especially industrious.  I’m currently sitting pretty at 67 though so I’ve upped my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 75.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing-ish
I’m getting better at writing reviews in general, even for books I was just so-so on but these reviews are rarely ever written on time. I like to leave a little bit of time between finishing a book and reviewing it, to let it really sink it etc. (and also because I’m lazy), but it’s just a joke sometimes. Must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
I’m really trying to get into a proper weekly schedule and, for the most part, I think I’m getting there. I’m now aiming to have 4-5 posts a week up, and these are usually a mixture of tags, weekly memes, discussions, TBRs, and reviews – I’d like to have more reviews and discussions and less tags but I’m happy-ish with the direction my blog is headed in. Actually scheduling ahead of time really helps me to read more of other people’s blogs and leave comments – I’m now trying to write my posts for the week ahead on a weekend but that doesn’t always happen.

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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

Greetings folks! Today I bring you the second of my quarterly check-ins on my 2017 Resolutions. As you may, or may not (I often don’t!), remember, I set some resolutions or goals for this year. I do it every year and every year, without fail, I forget my goals unless I keep them on a handily placed sheet of paper or, as is this year’s case, in the front of my bullet journal. I’m also doing check-ins every so often to keep myself accountable – so you can take a peek at my first quarterly check-in, and then let us now have a look at my progress in the months of April, May, and June, shall we?

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

 

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’m sitting pretty at 46 books which Goodreads informs me is 20 books ahead of schedule. Let us take a moment to bask once more in the glow of that meaningless and arbitrary accolade, shall we? Back in Quarterly Check-in #1 I was wondering whether to up my Goodreads goal to 75 books but I’ve decided now not to do that. Whilst I’m sure it’s an achievable number, I want to concentrate on reading some longer books over the summer and I don’t want to constantly be thinking in the back of my head about my Goodreads goal – so at 52 books it shall stay!

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
Let me explain something – if I dislike a book, I find it infinitely easier to write a review explaining why me and the book didn’t get along very well. A recent case in point is Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. When it comes to a book I liked, if I loved it I will be high and delirious on the buzz of all the feelings and I will then happily skip onto reading my next book, forgetting to write a review. Skip forward a few weeks and then I have a moment of realisation that I never did write that gushing review about that book I loved. At that point I start to feel that perhaps too much time has passed for me to properly convey my adoration so the review remains unwritten. This is a silly cycle to get trapped into and I must do better.

3. Blog more & comment more

Verdict:  On Track(ish)
For a while back there I was on something of a roll with posting to a vaguely regular schedule. And I wouldn’t say I’m failing this goal because I do still post a decent enough amount of things every week – it’s just that in recent days and weeks I’m feeling a bit disheartened about the quality of my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love participating in weekly memes and all that jazz but I do find myself settling on doing posts like this because they’re “easy posts” for me to write and don’t require huge amounts of thought on my part. I’d like to have more discussion posts and reviews and interesting content. Truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve been truly 100% happy with any of my posts and I constantly struggle to find the right tone for my blog given my academic literature background but desire to appeal also to a more popular audience. (Maybe that in itself is worth a blog post to unpack some of those feelings – would that be of interest to anyone?)

4. Read at least 4 classics

Verdict: Completed!
Guys, guys, guys, I’ve actually completed a goal – yay! I’ve read Hard Times by Charles Dickens, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, Howards End by E.M. Forster, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Ok, ok, so Atwood probably counts a modern classic at a push, but it’s still considering a classic so I’m completely allowing myself this one. I didn’t even have to think “ugh maybe I should read a classic”, I just found myself picking up A Room with a View and then that led to me realising I found Forster’s style very readable and then I followed it up with Howards End and voila, here we are. It feels good to actually have something completed and so early in the year – but I suspect that’s because this was an easily quantifiable goal and I set the bar pretty low… even so, I’ll take it!

5. Be mindful of Reading Challenges and actually complete them!

Verdict: On Track
In terms of the Goodreads Challenge and the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge, I’m on track. For Around the Year we’re at week 27 and I’m at 36 out of 52 books which is not too bad at all. As for the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, I’m no longer failing it quite as spectacularly as I was at my first quarterly check-in – I’ve now completed 8 out of 24 challenges which, don’t get me wrong, isn’t brilliant but it’s definitely better than I was doing. Must keep these challenges more in the back of my head as they will definitely require some tailored TBRs for me. And finally as far as Mount TBR goes, I’ve achieved Pike’s Peak (yay!) and am now aiming for Mount Blanc which means another 12 books – I got this, guys.

6. Explore more TV shows/films

Verdict: Failing
Unless you count watching far too many episodes of Police Interceptors as “progress” then, yeah, I’m failing this quite spectacularly. Case in point: yesterday when stuck on a train journey I chose to re-watch Ed Byrne’s Different Class rather than watch The Circle which I had not seen and wanted to. I ALWAYS choose re-watching for the sake of nostalgia/assured enjoyment and I need to stop doing this and let myself explore some new TV and film.

PERSONAL GOALS

 

1. Exercise more regularly

Verdict: Failing
So I changed jobs during quarter 2 which has meant that my walk to/from work has shortened considerably. However, that 10 minute (as opposed to 20 minute) walk in on a morning is now uphill and at speed because I panic about being late. And the downhill walk on the way to the station to get home is also at speed because otherwise I’d miss a train by like 2 minutes and have to wait for the next one. All of this is a way of procrastinating talking about what I really should be talking about… the gym. Ha hahahahaha ha ha. yeah, no, the gym is taking my money for no reason at all since I couldn’t tell you the last time I went. A combination of sheer laziness, lack of motivation, and near-constant blisters on the back of my feet making wearing my gym shoes uncomfortable have all meant I haven’t been in a while. It’s gonna hurt when I do but I know I need to work on my fitness. Sigh.

Also, if any of you happen to know of any beginners yoga videos online can you hook me up? I’m not so much about the mind-clearing and meditation aspects of it but I really need to improve my core strength, stability, and flexibility so I’d greatly appreciate any recommendations.

2. Experiment and find a skincare routine that works

Verdict: On Track
I’m still loving the St Ive’s face scrub in my morning shower but I’m yet to find a day cream that I really like. I continue to use No. 7 but I’m still vaguely suspicious that, despite its claims, it’s not actually the best thing for my sensitive skin. Will report back more later.

3. Travel more

Verdict: On Track
Ok so technically I haven’t been anywhere much since my last check-in (aside from tagging along with Liz and her parents on a lovely day trip to the Lake District which remains stunning by the way) but I do have a pretty damn exciting holiday planned – I’m going to Washington DC and New York! This is all down to Liz being amazed and getting flights but yeah we’re popping over to Washington for a few days to see all the sights and then we’re on a train to NYC for a couple of days and seeing Phantom on Broadway. I’m so ridiculously excited I can’t even begin to explain. Also, if you have recs for places to eat and/or things to do in DC or NYC, please let me know!

4. Allow myself to write more

Verdict: Failing
As I stated in my previous check-in: “I need to let myself write more, whether that is working on that novel I abandoned during NaNoWriMo or trying to get inspiration for some kind of new project. Or maybe I should just allow myself to write more reviews, for a start.” Nothing has changed since and I agree with that previous statement.

Overall

As we stand at the mid-way point of the year, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on a lot of my goals. I’m on-track mostly with my blogging and reading related goals, it’s just my “real life” and personal ones that could do with some much needed attention. That’s pretty par for the course for my life in general, to be perfectly honest. As the weather gets better though, my excuses for the exercise and travel goals really don’t really hold much weight and I will hopefully be trying to address these in the coming months.

Did you make New Years’ Resolutions or goals for this year?
How are you doing at achieving them?


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Musings | On Feeling Goalless

I’ve been doing some thinking lately (a dangerous start to any blog post, I know), mainly inspired by productivity videos I have seen on Amanda aka shesomickey‘s channel and Leena’s recent ‘How to Slam Your Competition (kind of)’ video. Both of these women are amazing YouTubers and inspire me to think a little more about myself and my own life, sometimes in a flippant way and sometimes in a “deeper way”.

(Yep, you’re in for one of those blog posts, so strap yourself in and get ready for some self-involved and (mostly) selfish musing that is particular to my own experience and in no way informed enough to speak to anyone else’s experiences or priorities. Disclaimer over…)

Both Amanda and Leena have recently discussed life goals and career goals, seeing that next step you want to make in your life, and the skills or experience you need to acquire in order to reach it. Last year for VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April) Amanda specifically made a video about 100 Life Goals, a tool to get you thinking about yourself and your priorities and do a little self-audit of where you are and where you would like to be “at the end of the day”. It is exactly what it says on the tin – you take out a pen and paper (or a blank Word document if you so prefer) and list out 100 goals. These can range from “visit Japan” to “write a book” to “work for a non-profit” to “learn ASL”. They can be a mix of travel, personal, or career-focused goals, in fact I think the best lists probably are a mix of those things. The key thing to having goals, though, is making them achievable, phrasing them so that they are a clear Thing to aim for, whether that is to visit a certain place or to live in a certain city or learn a certain skill. Although skeptical I could come up with 100 distinct goals, I was nevertheless encouraged by Amanda’s video to get out my own pen and paper and draw up my list…

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My 2017 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

I have a horrible tendency of setting New Year’s Resolutions and then promptly forgetting about them completely until 1st January of the following year when I start setting new ones for the year ahead. Obviously that defeats the entire point of having goals to begin with, so I’ve decided to do quarterly ‘check-ins’ with my goals and progress, partly to keep me accountable but mostly to force me to remember to actively work towards achieving resolutions rather than having them become utterly pointless. This is the first check-in, so I’ll do a quick look at each of my 2017 Resolutions and see how I’ve fared in the months of January, February, and March.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2017 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing…

READING, BLOGGING & WATCHING GOALS

1. Read at least 52 books in 2017

Verdict: On Track
At the time of writing this post, I’ve read 26 books and Goodreads informs me that I am well on track to completing the arbitrary 52 books goal I set myself as I am 14 books ahead of schedule. Thank you, Goodreads, that’s very good to know, I shall bask in the glow of that meaningless accolade. I know my own reading pace, and I know it fluctuates, so setting a book a week seemed like a manageable goal, and I have previously achieved it. Maybe I can even get to 75 books this year – is that too ambitious? We’ll see how I’m feeling when I get to Quarterly Check-in #2.

2. Write more reviews

Verdict: Failing
I really need to  buck up my ideas when it comes to writing reviews. Sometimes, it’s much easier to write a review for a book you hated – does anyone else ever feel that? My A Court of Thorns and Roses review just spewed out onto the page/screen so easily, whereas trying to explain why I love Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy is a bit harder and so I keep putting it off which is silly because of course I want to gush about the books I love, that’s part of the whole point of this blog in the first place. Must do better.

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My 2017 Resolutions

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over… and a new one just begun… 

Ok, ok, relax, I promise I will stop singing before I really get started! But, if it wasn’t obvious from that introductory lyric, or from the title, this is my Resolutions post. Yes, that’s right everyone, once again I pretend that I’m actually going to work productively towards improving various aspects of my life.

(I’m not even going to talk about my 2016 resolutions; let us just say I achieved very few of them. I will do better this year. I’m determined.)

I like resolutions. Even if they’re never fulfilled, it’s good to aim for the stars, then even if you fall a little short, at least you’ve still aimed for something higher than just the same old same old.

That being said, I’ve said this before and not done anything about it – I am a serial re-watcher and re-reader. There’s always something comforting about re-experiencing something with which you’re very familiar – you already know you love it, you know how it ends, and there are no nasty hidden surprises along the way. Books, films, tv shows, life… I’m very happy to get comfy in this comfort zone of mine and never let myself experience the new in the wide world outside of the bubble. (There’s a reason why I have this Vampire Weekend lyric on my About page – “You know I love the past ’cause I hate suspense”.)

Being comfy is… fine… but it also means you don’t get to discover new things and, potentially, new favourites which you’d then want to re-experience to your heart’s content. I want to change that so badly. So I need to stop saying I’ll watch/read/do more in the future and just fucking do it. (Pardon the French!) A lot of my 2017 Resolutions below are in the spirit of this attitude, so let’s just get right to it…

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Life Update 3.0 | Decorating

Hello, hello, hello. I thought I would come back to the blog today with another Life Update. I quite like writing these posts, simply for posterity’s sake if nothing else, and it’s always nice to see some progress in your life.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have got a job and moved to Liverpool to live with my friend, Liz. Since then I have been staying in the guest bedroom whilst my bedroom was pai16nted, carpeted, and furnished. Although there are still odd bits of painting here and there, I’ve mostly moved all of my things into the room now since it is officially decorated and furnished. I am officially sleeping in a double bed again and, god, it’s comfy. For the first time in my life I also have proper bookshelves in my room (something I’ve always wanted) and a desk (a beautiful one at that) so I’m very pleased with how it looks. This has also given me the chance to work out what I do and don’t like when it comes to painting and carpets and furniture preferences and colour schemes – I’m making it sound like a truly thrilling ride, I know. I never thought I’d get excited about wardrobe storage system options but, yeah, that happened. I decided to share a quick ‘before’ and ‘after’ because why not?

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So, as you can see from the panorama below my bedroom is definitely coming along really nicely. I raided IKEA, it seems, since practically every item of furniture in my room was acquired from said store. Not that I mind – everyone loves a good IKEA trip, right?

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Mind you, acquiring my desk, bookshelves, clothes rail, cube shelves, bed, mattress, pillows, bedside table, lamp, and even bedding from one place seems a bit like I might have sold my soul to the IKEA devil… or else it’s just really convenient and reasonably priced – I’ve leave you to decide which it is. I still need to find some storage boxes (I’ve got my eyes on drona) and a stool/chair for sitting at my desk (hello, nils) so something tells me I have not yet stopped being entranced by that shining store.

So, that’s about where I’m at with life in general. I’m still finding my feet in my job but I think it’s going really well so far – I haven’t had any complaints at least so I can only assume it’s going well. And I’m just continuing to buy little bits and pieces to make my room absolutely perfect so I’m sure there are bound to be more Life Update posts in the future, maybe with less IKEA!

Until next time!

PS – Many, many thanks must go to Liz for helping me put up an insane amount of flat pack furniture. And for persisting when trying to fit the flat pack boxes into her car even though it seemed logistically impossible.


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Life Update 2.0

Well, my friends, I am officially living in Liverpool. I am officially working in Birchwood, meaning I have the delight of a 20-minute busy train journey every morning and evening. Fun! But, hey, standing up for that long and walking 20-ish minutes to/from the station must be doing me some good.

As far as moving goes, I moved as much of my stuff as I needed/could fit in Liz’s car on Tuesday 20th. I started work the very next day so that was an adjustment and a half! Our journey from the North East to the North West went really smoothly – we enjoyed ourselves listening to Now That’s What I Call Music songs on the drive over and the brief shudder of distaste when we reached Manchester was the only bad point of the drive for Liz. (She’s a Scouser so… I’m pretty sure it’s an ingrained and involuntary reaction.) My parents brought over the remainder of my stuff this Friday just gone.

Let me tell you – I have somehow accumulated a tonne of crap over the years. Despite having a box room at home (and so limited about how much I could actually keep in it), I expanded my collection of extraneous crap in my four years at university – I’ve accumulated way too many mugs, for example. But now they have a happy home in the house in Liverpool. (If there’s one thing Liz and I will never be short of, it’s mugs!)

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Life Update

So… I didn’t know what to title this or if this was something people would care about because, let’s face it, if you’re here, you’re probably here for the books. But this life update does concern my books (and blogging) on some level so… stay with me on this.

As of next week, there will be no more staying for a couple of days here and there at Liz’s house when I have an interview. Because I’m moving. There. Properly. It’s actually happening. So now my hours of getting lost on the IKEA website finally have a purpose rather than just acting as mere aimless procrastination!

I do have a good reason for moving – I’ve landed myself a clerical/administration job at a university in the North West so I now need to move to Liverpool, it’s not merely a desire anymore, it’s a necessity. And let me just say, the relief of finally finding a job is also mixed with the unbridled joy that I don’t have to job hunt or attend the delightful Job Centre any more. I hope it stays that way for many months and potentially years to come.

With the job comes this necessary change of scenery as I currently live in the North East of England. I say currently live, I have lived in the same house (hell, in the same room, same box room of tiny proportions) for all my life, excluding my time spent at university in Lancaster. But even at university, though I started to feel at home in that city and campus, my permanent address was always still in Teesside, in my parents’ home. Now that’s changing and it’s kind of terrifying, but the good kind of terrifying, the terrifying where I know I’m nervous about this and will miss my family but I need this stepping outside of my comfort zone because it’s good for me in the long run, even if the comfort zone is still only like 3 hours away by train.

I never thought I was the city kind of girl, ever. I come from a place that isn’t a large town by any means – it only takes a 15 minute walk to get to the town centre and that consists of about 30 shops, if that. So moving to Liverpool is an adjustment, to say the least. But every time I’ve visited Liverpool, I’ve felt comfortable, like I could maybe possibly see myself living there somehow. I don’t know how much of that comes from knowing someone who hails from there but the feeling remains regardless.

Speaking of which, the ever kind Liz is letting me take up her off of moving into her house with her. (If you don’t know Liz yet, go check out her blog!) We’ve never actually lived together in our time at university but we did spend an interesting few days when she temporarily moved into the house I lived in after our respective housemates had vacated the premises ahead of us. We just watched a lot of tennis, if I recall correctly, and made it our noble (and foolhardy) mission to use up all the remaining food – it was so good there’s photographic proof of the faji-ttos and Terry’s chocolate orange topped flapjacks served with Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, naturally. I foresee many food collaborations in our future. I’m also like 98% sure we won’t kill each other when we actually do live together.

‘Wait, so how does this concern your books?’ I hear you say. Well, good question. My books will be carefully packed and moving with me, hopefully onto some proper bookshelves. At some point. Because the thought of having to wait two weeks for my dad to bring them over when he does the bulk of my move is horrifying to any book lover, myself included. Now, realistically, I know from previous experience that even if I take 30 of my most precious books with me, I probably won’t read them all, if any. I’ll be too busy internally panicking about my new job to read. But having my books nearby is an odd sort of comfort blanket, so I’m bound to at least take a few over on my initial move which will be happening in this upcoming week.

Speaking of the week, whilst I will endeavour to have something queued up for the blog, in reality, I’ll probably forget and/or be too busy frantically packing my things because I never learn and will leave it until the last minute to do so. See, I told you I’d eventually bring this blog post back around to my books (and blogging!). So, I suppose this is just my way of saying hopefully by this time next week I will be semi-settled in Liverpool for the foreseeable future. Wow, that feels weird to type. Not a bad weird, by any means. I’m nervous and part of me still can’t quite grasp it’s happening but it is and I’m excited.

I’ll see you on the other side, folks!


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Hey girl, whatcha’ doing?

So… you may have noticed a somewhat lacklustre attempt at blogging as of late. Sure, there have been posts, but I haven’t really been as engaged as I would like to be, as active as I would like to be, or as thoughtful as I would like to be. There are a few reasons for this and I thought, well hey, why not make an updates blog post about them because whilst some of them are a little on the sad side, they’ll be glossed over quickly for the bigger and better – some recommendations of cool stuff I’ve been enjoying.

I casually mentioned in a throwaway comment that we recently experienced a death in the family. Towards the end of last month we lost my wonderful, loving nanna, and it’s been rough on the family as we try to work out how life looks without her and, especially, how it’s going to be with my granddad from now on. That is a whole other personal side of things that I won’t get into on here but let us just say that, sometimes, death can be revealing and sometimes what it reveals isn’t so shiny or nice. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. Especially when it comes to your family. Your family is your family so the minute that you see that they are just as vulnerable and flawed as anyone else is certainly a moment of realisation.

The job hunt 2k16 still continues, to not much avail. I’m trying to stay positive and it’s very much an up and down process day-to-day, as I get really excited about a particular opportunity, obsess over my application, submit it anxiously, then get summarily rejected, making it feel like all those little dreams I had have been crushed. It’s an ongoing process but, hopefully, it will get better, I just have to be persistent.

Now we’re going to move onto the more positive part of this updates post… my lack of consistent blogging is mostly down to me watching videos instead of doing any reading or writing myself.

So I blame Netflix… specifically Archer

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s a cartoon (an adult cartoon, heed that warning!) about a suave-but-absolute-arsehole-of-a-man named Archer (the name’s Archer, Sterling Archer), who works for a spy organisation called ISIS (it proved to be an unfortunate acronym, yes), the head of which is his mother. The cast of characters is fantastic (Woodhouse is hilarious, Cheryl’s a fave, and who can forget Pam?) and the show really has a way of making everything so exciting and funny, from the mundane situations of HR wanting all staff to complete peer reviews to the absolutely ridiculous and farcical time (/whole season) in which the gang became a drug cartel. It happens to the best of us.

I haven’t done a good job of summing up the plot but the truth is, it really is a show that you just need to watch a couple of episodes and see if you get it or not. I can see that its sense of humour probably isn’t for everyone and, to be honest, I was mildly surprised that I ended up loving it, but I fell for it, hook line and sinker, after the pilot episode.

Moving onto my second Netflix recommendation that I’m sure needs no explanation: Firefly. Oh Firefly. Loved by geeks everywhere, this geek included, top of so many lists of ‘TV shows that were cancelled too soon’. I was reminded of the genuine joy that is Firefly when I tuned into Nerd HQ this weekend and saw Nathan Fillion auctioning off his shit. No, really, that’s pretty much how he describes it – he auctions off merch and fan stuff he’s amassed (probably cleaning out his closet in the process) for charity and it’s kind of great. But, back to the point, Nathan Fillion reminded me of how charming Captain Malcolm Reynolds is so obviously I had to revisit Firefly. 

For those unaware, Firefly is a Space Western, created by Joss Whedon and starring the likes of Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, and Adam Baldwin. It’s set in a future where, after Earth burned up, humans moved to other planets and star systems, a sci-fi extension of the idea of a pioneer and frontier culture you see in westerns. The show is centred onboard a Firefly-class space ship called Serenity, crewed by a rag tag group of misfits who are living on the fringes of society and their star system. They make a living how they can – sometimes that’s salvage, sometimes it’s legitimate cargo runs, sometimes it’s straight up smuggling.

As with many of Whedon’s other outputs, what you get is an interesting premise that promises comedy, peril, drama, and genuine heart-warming moments as you see a group bond to become a sort of found family. The politics of the tyrannical Alliance vs. the little guys (though I’d hate to call Serenity’s crew that to their faces), the mix of Western and Asian culture as is seen through the use of Mandarian Chinese dialogue for swear words (a good way to keep the show’s rating down too!), the very distinct characterisation of each of the ship’s nine passengers, it’s all so clever. Plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Let’s move away from television and onto a little (or not so little) thing I mentioned above: Nerd HQ. For those unaware, Nerd HQ is an event that runs alongside San Diego Comic Con and, to be honest, I much prefer it. For me Comic Con always seems much too intense, it’s like information overload, a constant stream of updates and excitement and !!!, and I feel claustrophobic just looking at a photo of Hall H (like this one for example), let alone how I would feel if I actually ever got the chance to attend. Nerd HQ, by comparison, is much smaller, but nonetheless amazing, and if I were ever in the position to fly to San Diego for the sake of a weekend, I would so be there for Nerd HQ.

Run by Zachary Levi and the team at The Nerd Machine, it’s an alternative to Comic-Con, meant to connect fans and creators in a more low-key, intimate, and welcoming setting than that of a huge international convention centre. Of course those same creators are already in town for SDCC so of course they could swing by Nerd HQ. The reason I like Nerd HQ as a concept is that it seems a much more welcoming and approachable community, plus they live stream all their Q&A panels (they call them “conversations”, yet another move to be more inclusive) and upload them to YouTube quickly afterwards so you can re-watch that 2013 Tom Hiddleston one over and over to your heart’s content. I mean, what, I don’t do that…

The other great thing about Nerd HQ? Charity. Tickets for the panels or signings are sold for around $20 (a steal compared to the price of a con ticket), and throughout the day there are ways to donate money for Operation Smile, a charity which provides cleft lip and palate repair surgery to children all over the world. This year I saw plenty of people asking a question during a panel but then also adding ‘I bought some merchandise and I thought maybe I could get Zach to sign it and then you could auction it off later for charity?’. This is the kind of charity I like, it’s meaning that you get to enjoy the hell out yourself at this amazing Nerd HQ event but you also get to do a little something whilst you’re enjoying the hell out of yourself. Always a plus.

If you need any more convincing, Zachary Levi is endearing as hell and has a really great rapport with all of the people that come to Nerd HQ. Seriously, it’s uncanny how entertaining I found panels for shows that I don’t even watch, simply because it was so fun to have this back and forth conversation between him, the guests, and the nerds themselves that got to ask questions.

I gushed about Nerd HQ for maybe a bit too long there. Comic Con is also a nerd’s dream, obviously, and it’s the time of year to drop the latest film or TV show trailer. It’s no surprise to hear that I was extremely excited about three trailers in particular: Kong: Skull Island, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Sherlock. I’m still not sure whether Doctor Strange will be for me or not, but I’ll inevitably start to eagerly anticipate it once they start press for it. I’m so easily swayed by Marvel. Sorry/not sorry. There are just a lot of things coming up to be excited for. For example…

This weekend I’ll be visiting a friend who lives in Oxford and we’ll be doing all sorts of bookish and touristy things (including YALC on Friday which I’m ridiculously excited for) so I think a blog post on that when I come back is more than likely – stay tuned folks!

So, sure, I might not have been reading a great deal but I have been consuming stories, just via Archer, Firefly, and Nerd HQ. And they make for pretty compelling stories. I would recommend them. Anyone out there got any recommendations of stuff you’ve been enjoying, whether that’s books, music, film, tv, Internet stuff? Share them below!

Musings | Less Grey

It’s amazing the world of difference that a good couple of days can make. Don’t get me wrong, nothing spectacular or life-changing has happened – I just feel better about life.

Oh, listen to me, a twenty-something millennial who generally is all ‘woe is me’ about job prospects and the highly likely probability of still living at home at the age of thirty.

But, for the past few days, that feeling hasn’t been low-level pervading every thought that passes through my mind when I have a spare moment to stare blankly into space and think. And I can chalk this recent lack of that feeling down to one key difference – it has been sunny in England.

Before you scoff at the ridiculousness of such a blindingly obvious statement let me just say that, from Wednesday to Friday, I sensed a discernible difference at work – people were smiling as they entered the building, people had their heads held high wearing sunglasses instead of heads bowed to the floor because they’d just braved the chilling wind outside. The mood, the moral, the entire atmosphere was improved tenfold simply because it wasn’t raining and, the little wind there was was pleasantly warm. It wasn’t a heatwave by any stretch of the imagination, but it also wasn’t the bizarre hail and snow flurries we’ve been treated to in the month of April in the UK.

Everyone’s attitude, including my own, was a lot better off for such a simple thing.

With a little help from Spotify, I broke out summery playlists of more upbeat music and listened to that instead of my usual droning-into-the-background songs that I prefer to accompany my reading whilst I commute. (The Great British Breakfast and Feel Good Friday will both improve your mood and remind you of songs you’d forgotten existed.)

And, perhaps more importantly, I started to seriously consider the ever-intimidating question – What Now? – when I had a spare moment to stare blankly into space and think, except this time I did so without the usual generally grey and miserable attitude which ordinarily accompanies such thought processes. The long and short of it is that, having that low-level anxiety removed temporarily, I started to think past ‘settling’. To think past the voice in my head which shoots down any remotely moving-onward plan as soon as it enters my brain. To think that maybe What Now? could actually be an exciting and positive opportunity as well as an admittedly scary as hell question.

We’ll see how long it lasts. Cloud cover has meant outside has been greyer and colder today, but inside I am still working on job applications that would see me need to move across the country, something which, until this week, I wouldn’t have entertained past thinking derisively ‘If Only’. Like I said, it’s amazing the world of difference that a good couple of days can make.


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