So I haven’t posted since I arrived at uni, and I guess I assumed that I would have more to say by this point; so I’m just going to start by informing you that your money is being well spent, and that If you think about it, it’s kind of scary that University has the reputation it does of wild antics and strange behaviours when it is these people who are going to become your doctors and dentists and the like. I have already witnessed my fair share of bodily fluids staining carpets and pavements, and I think you should ask your doctor next time you see them what they really got up to whilst they pretended to be revising for an exam.
In all seriousness, I have enjoyed my first few weeks, but I haven’t quite settled to the point where I feel as if I know what I’m doing here. Instead, I feel more like I’m just wandering along until where I’m going appears around the next corner, and that destination will probably be a Weatherspoons. This I think highlights my capacity as a student, as I don’t even do the social bit properly. Would I like to go to a club? Nah, I’ll go to a “pub” where I can get unlimited coffee for about 65p. Would I like to come to pre-drinks? Nope, I’m going to an improvised comedy evening and besides, I have to be up at 7.
So maybe I’m not entirely awful, as I do venture from my room when I need to, and some part of me really enjoys nights out. I think it is just something that im not used to yet. I’m taking my first trip home this weekend and at least I can say that I can cook bolognese now. I think I’ll start posting more regularly, and hopefully next time I’ll go back to the ranting and awful jokes. All creative capacity is currently going into trying to make teeline shorthand make sense. Yes brain, those are apparently valid symbols and no brain, You are not just still drunk.

Stare you down

These blank walls will tell you more about me than any poster or picture ever could. They will show you that I don’t belong here, and that this space isn’t truly mine. I will attempt to stick my personality all over them in any way that I can, but at the very least these walls prove that I am starting again. Which isn’t really a bad thing in the long run, but these blank faces will watch everything that I do over the next year without changing, in stark contrast to my own decisive development. There is at least a pin board at their heart, where I can attach bits of myself, and I’ll take what I can get. But these walls are blank, and these corridors are empty, and my head is reeling trying to take it all in.

Ok, I’m not really saying anything here, it’s just that since arriving at university today It’s hit me that whilst i’m not really alone I do have to adapt, and there really is nothing more hostile than an empty room. I’m typing this just to occupy myself, and I’m too tired to even put in the effort to make it elegant or engaging. Although maybe there’s a meaning in that itself.
I don’t know, or care.
I’m going to bed.

Error Report: Code University.

They say that the brain is the worlds greatest computer; its ability to take in new information and connect together the different systems of your body seamlessly is the kind of power that the latest smartphones and computers can only dream of possessing. Sure, to describe it as such is a massive simplification that neuro-scientists would find offensive, but if we ignore that and look at it considering the more social implications then the analogy itself fits perfectly in our minds.
I don’t know why this came into my head, but I was considering all of the special features on my new phone and I thought that if we consider the brain in this way then we also have to look at the other side of the image and address what negatives that both the brain and the latest hardware have in common. When you unbox something shiny and new, it works great for a while and you can push it to perform better than your previous device, assuming that is why you upgraded in the first place. But you’ll always get that first chink in the armour, that first virus that slows it down and makes the novelty wear off. Then the problems become more frequent until eventually you decide that maybe it’s time for a change again like the consumerist mind that you are.
In a way, our brains are like that, and while they can take a pounding too much pressure can cause some serious issues with functionality. I find this especially relevant at the moment considering I am going off to University in a week to a place I have never been before and to a life that I do not fully know how to lead, and between the excitement and the preparation there is the inevitable worry. My brain has been working in phases for years, and currently it has been programmed for A levels and the stresses that occur when I eventually roll out of bed in the morning. But it has also been able to process the good times and highlights that the past two years have given me. There comes a time though when the things that are familiar will seem the furthest away, and I am not sure how to deal with that. Eventually the familiar will not be that at all, and my brain will operate a different programme to what it knows now.
I often hear the term “re-invent yourself” used in conjunction with my situation and those similar to it, but when you think about the computer analogy then I think that this is the worst thing you can do. If you are re-inventing yourself, surely you are changing what your self is, and whilst there is a danger in this viewpoint becoming a kind of “if you replace the handle and the head is it still the same hammer” discussion, I think that there is final reference to the analogy that suits much better:
Instead, install an update.
A new situation requires new skills, but it doesn’t mean that you have to disregard the old ones. If you take stock of the changes and go along with it you will adapt and achieve a kind of (in this case) “University 1.0″ software that replaces the previous one, but is building on the same features.
I realise that this is a really silly and long winded way to say something that millions have said before, but there is definitely some logic in it for me, and there are certain parts of the old me that I want to hold onto when I try and create the new one. Because I’ll still be coming home, and I’ll almost definitely find that not much has changed at all.
My new phone has obviously excited me quite a lot, but at least I’ve made more sense than I usually do, in my head at least. I should probably start working on an update that filters out the unnecessary waffle.

Loose Change

She caught the coin and held it, covered by her palm.
She knew that there was a 50/50 chance of heads coming up, and the same with tails. The fact that it was old, and rusty, made no difference to the statistics. The coin still had an intrinsical value equal to any other coin of it’s kind, a value that she knew very well.
She realised that she wasn’t sure what side she wanted to appear. She wasn’t sure that it mattered. The coin still had an intrinsical value equal to any other coin of it’s kind.
Because the difference between heads and tails is the same as between the head and the heart, and yet she knew that both of them would play their part when everything was considered.
And if she didn’t like the result…?
She could always flip the coin again. She knew that it had an intrinsical value that far surpassed any other coin of it’s kind; it’s value could be changed. All it needed was a good investment. The coin was made more valuable by the strength of the others in her pocket.
Loose change.
Well, change was right at least.
She took a breath, and removed her hand.

Read all about it…

Hey guys.
I have recently set up another blog, in which I will be writing “chapters” of a story idea I have. That is of course if I remember to do so. I have placed a link to it at the top of my site, titled “A Postcard from the End of the World”. If you wanted to have a look at anything I put on there, that would be great.

Matt :)

The Word that Cried Wolf

Being both a “blogger” and, more importantly, a teenager, I am no stranger to reading a general version of the English language that has been adapted to the needs of a more technologically savvy generation; in other words “PCs r gr8″. Unless of course you are reading the comments on YouTube and other such websites, as then you are most likely to see sentences that have no relevance to anything anyone else has said, and by reading these you are somehow automatically defined as a homosexual by every user.
If the misuse of the word “gay” on social media is a one problem in our society then the overuse of other words is another evil. Again, on YouTube everything is described as “awesome!!!!!” and “incredible!” so often that these words no longer have the same meaning that they did when they first surfaced. Whilst this isn’t a problem in the scheme of things, it has the added effect of passing on this plague to other words that really do need to stand apart. The most important of these I have found is the simple word “Sorry“.
Recently my house has been overrun by small children, and it is interesting seeing their take on the word in the instance of one of them using it as a way to escape trouble for smacking the other. Adult conversations aren’t that much different, and I use sorry for a lot of things, like when I accidentally move in someone’s way on the street or when I tell a bad joke, or break wind. The point of this is that when you actually need sorry, that’s when you’ll find that it really isn’t enough. There’s a difference between saying it as an escape route and genuinely wanting to take back every mistake you have ever made. You cannot convey the latter in the word sorry as it is often taken as being the former, and then the statement itself becomes hollow and I often wish I had not said the word in the first place.
When it really matters, and when I am not crying wolf, I want to put my heart into words. Instead, the word can disguises your heart.
The worst part is that we are even abbreviating sorry now.

Care: What’s the issue here?

Here is an article I wrote for R Voice magazine last month that deals with my experience of being in care. Thought I’d publish it here for you all.

The Casey Family Programs Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study was a fairly extensive study of various aspects of children who had been in foster care. It noted that 80% of ex-foster children are doing “poorly”.” – Wikipedia!

This is what I found when I Googled the negative effects of being a child in care. I did this partly out of curiosity to see what I could find, as I wondered how someone could translate the complex situation of being a looked-after child into words, and as it turns out “foster care” has it’s own Wikipedia page that goes on to list a lot of the emotional and mental consequences that care can have on young people.
The vagueness of this statement I think demonstrates just how difficult it is to explain what being in care is like; it means different things to different people, and whilst some treat it as a positive experience I think that concluding that “80% ” of those who grew up in care are doing “poorly” doesn’t quite grasp the issue, to say nothing of those who are still being looked after.
Being in care is difficult in one sense because of it’s paradoxical nature. Care systems are set up to protect vulnerable children who have had a difficult time in life, with the aim of integrating them into a normal society in which it is safe for them to express themselves without them facing the issues that had set them apart from others their own age. However, what often becomes the reality is a negative stigma of both the young people and the system as a whole that leaves people often feeling just as disconnected as they had been before. This is, I think, the first issue that someone who is new to the system has to face. It is not the fault of either the carers or the children, it is just a simple truth that due to the lack of foster families and available placements, the situation that one person finds themselves in may be completely different to another child in care. When I went into care, I was lucky enough to be housed with my brother, therefore retaining an aspect of familiarity in an otherwise alien environment. For others, this is not the case. The uncertainty of moving with siblings and long-term placements can make a young person feel insecure and abandoned, making it very difficult for them to stay in one place and build up a network of friends and experiences. This factor alone often creates anger, anxiety and issues of attachment that can stay with them for the rest of their life.
If you are struggling in care, I think it is important to remember that ultimately the people around you are there to help you. Through your carers or your social worker you have access to masses of support that you only need ask for, with organisations such as ECLAS providing educational and social benefits such as cultural visits and mentors, and you can request the support that is going to help you. No matter how hard your situation feels, you are in control, and the what I would recommend more than anything is a simple change in outlook. It may be difficult at first, but if you begin to accept the situation you are in and decide to move forward because it’s what you want, and because you want to improve your situation for yourself, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. You can start existing as the person you want to to be and believe me, your situation may well end up as a benefit, due to all the opportunities and support that the system can give.