ZERO TO HERO: 30 Days To A Better Blog.

It’s a new year and so I needed an extra little kick to get things moving for 2014. As a result of my despicable lack of ideas for posts as well as my addiction to the excellent posts on The Daily Post, I came across the Zero to Hero challenge. Thirty days of writing and blog challenges to enhance my existing blog. It sounded so good that I signed up then and there. Here’s the first challenge.

DAY 1: INTRODUCE YOURSELF

Who am I?

I’ve already given a vague introduction in my “About” pages on my blog (Who am I you ask? and Just a little more) but here’s an little something extra. I’m a 20-something-year-old single lady living in Brisbane, Australia and I’m currently half way through a Secondary Education degree with a major in English and a minor in Film & Media Studies (just in case you haven’t already figured that out). I work for a university (no, not the one I study at) as an administration officer and while I like to complain profusely about my job, I know that I probably won’t leave until I graduate from my degree at the end of 2015. The pay is just too obscenely good to give it up just yet.

Like any normal person of the female persuasion, I struggle with maintaining a “healthy” lifestyle due to my addiction to chocolate and pastries in combination with my love for sitting around watching movies and TV shows that are so bad that they’re good. I try to combat my bad habits with good ones (attempting to eat better occasionally, going to bootcamp 2-3 times a week, paying netball etc) but I tend to go through stages and there’s no point in trying to go against the tide.

Without sounding too clichéd, I have an undying love and passion for travel and exploring the unknown. If I’m not about to go on an overseas adventure, I’m usually in the stages of planning one. I love living in Brisbane but there are times when it gets a bit much. Brisbane (or Brisvegas as we locals have nicknamed it. Not sure why) is what I like to describe as a small, big city (despite it having the largest metropolitan area in the Southern Hemisphere) because everyone knows everyone. The six degrees of separation rule is in full effect here and it can feel a little claustrophobic at times. Brisvegians know what I’m taking about.

Why am I here?

Originally I started my blog as a university assignment in 2012 but once the assignment was complete I ignored my account until November 2013. Whilst trying to find ways to while away the dreary and dreadful hours at work, I stumbled upon my old, severely neglected account and figured that writing a blog was as good a way as any to help fill in my time. I started off writing small entries but then found that I had so many things I wanted to say and share with fellow bloggers. Sure I tell my tales of adventure and romance to my friends but blogging is a far more effective way for a greater global community to access my experiences and in turn, for me to access those experiences written about by other bloggers in the never-ending blogosphere.

If I’m going to be truly honest about why I’m here, it’s to see if my writing is as good as I like to think it is. I very rarely get to have my ego stroked so when I get a positive comment or a “Like” on one of my posts, I feel a great sense of validation as well as elation. There’s nothing quite like having a total stranger understand your perspective and like where you’re coming from. Keep the positivity rolling I say.

What do I want to write about?

I write about a lot of different things and I’d really like to keep it that way. I don’t want to be restricted to any one theme or topic so I’m going to avoid doing that if I can. I’ve read a bunch of different blogs that have been designed around a specific topic (photography, food etc) but I’ve found that the ones I enjoy reading the most are those bloggers who write about the everyday. They impart their personal experiences about relationships, work, travel and just life in general with witty little quips that have kept me entertained for hours (props to you Aussa Lorens with your HACKER. NINJA. HOOKER. SPY. tales). In terms of my own writing and posts, I hope that people find them as entertaining to read as I do when I write them. I suppose that as 2014 flies past us, a greater theme will emerge within my writing and topics. Being an English and Film Studies student, I think that it’s best to assume that there’s going to be a great many posts about films I’ve seen and popular culture as well as any other random thought that worms its way out of the depths of my brain.

What do I want to accomplish by writing a blog?

By writing a blog, I hope to impart some kind of wisdom or at least entertain the illusion of being a little bit wise in my 20’s. I want to be able to look back at what I’ve written and think “I make a good point” or “That was a surprisingly good topic of thought”. I want to be able to inspire others to further their writing and express their ideas in a safe environment where you’re free to say whatever you feel like at that particular moment. By the end of 2014, I hope to be able to look back and say “I pushed myself with this one thing and it paid off”. My blog is only in its infancy so there’s ample space and time for me to be able to expand my thoughts and ideas while also participating in the global community that blogging has manifested. Simply put, I just want to have a voice. In the word’s of Girls (2012) creator Lena Dunham “I don’t want to freak you out, but I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice, of a generation.”

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Where to begin?

Guilt. Where does one even begin to explain it, describe it or attempt to conquer it? G-U-I-L-T. It’s a terrible, terrible emotion that plagues on my sense of self-worth, my sense of goodness and my all round sense of happiness. It makes me feel bad about not doing something or festers for so long in my over-crowded head that I end up participating in something I would have been better off avoiding. It’s a fat, slimy worm of an emotion that slowly but surely eats away at the softest parts of my soul and leaves me empty and twitching with a knot the size of a rockmelon in the pit of my stomach. I feel guilty about so many things that I don’t even know where to begin. Even those things that I find pleasurable and have no self control over make me feel guilty! I feel guilty that my brother got me a decent gift for Christmas (there really is a first time for everything!) when all I gave him was a yo-yo and the book he gave me last year (It was a joke. Promise). I feel guilty about having neglected my blog for so long over the holiday period. I feel guilty about downloading pirated movies and TV shows from the Internet. I feel guilty about eating that chocolate bar and not doing any form of exercise to compensate. I JUST FEEL SO GODDAMN GUILTY! I think I need to do something about this guilt before it completely consumes me. The beginning of a new year seems like as good a time as any. Time for an explosive bomb dive into a guiltless existence.

Now guilt is no easy thing to combat. I feel like there’s always going to be something out there that’s going to make my stomach churn and my heart rate increase simply because I might regret that particular decision or indeed, that act of indecision. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it and it occurred to be that I can absolutely reduce my sense of guilt and perhaps even beat it altogether. Recently I was talking to a friend over a delightful café breakfast and she suggested a “Year of Yes” where I do nothing but say yes to things all year long; the only exception is if the event is already clashing with a prior engagement. To a shut-in and home-body like me, the thought of saying yes to every single proposition scares the bejesus out of me not to mention my bank account. In theory, it’s an excellent idea and will definitely increase both my social life and livelihood (to an extent) but how realistic is it for me? With work, uni and travels in the works, I don’t think I’m a financially viable candidate for a “Year of Yes” so instead, I’m just going to make a bigger effort to put myself out there and actively participate in life rather than deciding to be a hermit and watch things on my laptop (a pleasurable past-time that makes me feel guilty). For example, I’m currently at work (first day back for 2014) and I’ve been invited to attend a Pool & BBQ Party afterwards. My lazy and antisocial self wants nothing more than to just go home, have a shower and curl up in bed with my dog to watch Girls (2012), Teen Wolf (2011) or some other equally good but bad TV series. This, however. shall not come to pass. I’m going to go home, get changed, buy some drinks and food and then head over to my friends house to hang out with them. I will be a social person and I will have a good time. That’s the plan and I’m going to try my darndest to continue this particular trend all year long. Hopefully more often than not it’s going to be to my benefit rather than my detriment but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Here’s to 2014, a “Year of More Yes’s than No’s”.

I resolve to create resolutions, nothing more.

WHAT?! It’s the end of another year you say? That just cannot be! It was only March three weeks ago I swear!

Seriously though, where has 2013 gone? As 2014 is now well and truly breathing its rancid breath down our necks and it’s time for that New Years right of passage where we write down our “Resolutions” only to forget about them a week later. I’ve never really been one to participate in this particular New Years tradition but I thought I’d just write down a few anyway. I figure that by putting it in my blog, there’s going to be an everlasting, digital copy that I won’t be able to escape and must, therefore, attempt to stick to it. All I now need to do is come up with a list of reasonably achievable resolutions. It shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Here’s goes nothing.

2014 NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

1. Increase my current University GPA by at least 3 or more points.

2. Save more money and stop spending it all on iTunes.

3. Cut out soft drink and unnecessary sugar.

4. Ask a person of the male persuasion out on a date of some description.

5. Be a little less hostile when it comes to change in the workplace. (I need to take things less personally)

6. Review more films and TV shows on my blog.

7. See more live music, comedy and theatrical shows.

And that’s as far as I got. From what I know of other peoples’ lists, the ones that I’ve listed are pretty standard so there’s nothing very exciting about them. I really should make more of an effort to be a little more creative with my resolutions.

Do the hustle.

American Hustle (2013)

Last Friday night my friends and I made the spur of the moment decision to go and see David O. Russell’s new film American Hustle (2013). The all-star cast (featuring the likes of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) promised a riveting film following the “last con” for con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), a middle-ages overweight and blading man, and Sydney Prosser (Adams), a vivacious young woman with a taste for risky business ventures. The couple are forced to work for the FBI to avoid jail time and as such, are forced to work with the wild and unpredictable Richie DiMaso (Cooper) to bring down corrupt politicians (Renner’s character Mayor Carmine Polito) and ultimately, the mob. I don’t want to give the plot away so I won’t delve too much deeper into the story but as you can imagine, tense situations and vulgar language ensued with a barrage of predictable plot twists and a typical cameo of Robert De Niro as a the ever-allusive mob boss.

I have to admit when I first saw the trailer for this film on YouTube, I was pretty stoked and I couldn’t wait for the release date. I got the impression from the trailer that it would be a fast-paced action-drama film with an absolutely stellar cast and an interesting view of the world according to con artists. So I got my ticket and my popcorn, got comfortable in my chair and eagerly anticipated the start of the film. Two and a bit hours later, I emerged disappointed. While each actor gives a great performance and David O. Russell does a great job of directing, I thought that the overall pace of the film was too slow. I was more focused on how uncomfortable my seat was making me than the story. I felt like there was nothing new or exciting about the overall story line and I know that all films have to follow a certain narrative trend but I was neither shocked nor surprised by the events portrayed in the film. Now I’m a HUGE film lover and for me to sit through a film and be thinking “DEAR GOD when will this be over?! Is this the worlds longest movie?!” probably isn’t the ideal or intended response the director was looking for. It’s a rare thing for me to have this reaction to a film that I was really looking forward to seeing so I was rather taken aback when I departed the cinema with “Thank God that’s over!” running through my less-than-impressed brain. What is a 138 minute film could have been reduced, in my opinion, to 90 minutes and still get the point across while also encompassing all the directorial flourishes attributed to a O. Russell film. I was not what you would call a “happy chappy”.

Now that what I believe to be the cons (oh yeah, I did that) of the film have been identified, it’s time to look at what I believe to be the pros of American Hustle (2013).

As I mentioned earlier in this post, the performances given by each actor were great. They each explored and maintained their individual character types and allowed the audience to easily follow character development and progression throughout the film. The rare moments that did get a bit of a giggle out of me was when Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Rosalyn Rosenfeld (married to Irving), had a bit of a melt-down and danced like a crazy person in her 1970’s living room in front of her young son and how she continuously seemed to be setting her home on fire. Particular attention must be also paid to the scene where she puts a metal take-out container in the “science microwave” and sets her kitchen alight. Classic. In addition to these things, the costume and set designs were excellent. Sure you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing anything either Sydney Prosser or Rosalyn Rosenfeld wore and Irving’s taupe is gross but without these elements, the film definitely wouldn’t feel like an authentic representation of the 1970s. So I applaud those clever people who got it right in the costume and set design departments.

The sheer size of the collated acting and directorial chops (Academy Awards nominees and winners, Golden Globe nominations and winners) was enough to get me, and no doubt thousands of others, through the cinema door, wanting to see American Hustle (2013) but upon re-entry into the real world, I was left deflated and disappointed. Judge for yourselves though.

Once upon a time in my bright white office…

… I got so incredibly and frustratingly bored that I chucked an epic hissy fit just for something to do. Phones were pegged at the wall, paper was off-loaded into the air and general screaming and swearing ensued with intermittent sobbing and floor-crumpling. I was the prime example of a toddler who, for the first time in their short, short life, has been told ‘no’ and only just seems to comprehend its full implications.

Well, not really but I’m seriously on the verge. Uni finished for the year about two months ago and as such, I’ve been working full-time to help while away the hours and earn a little extra cash so I can actually afford to travel through the U.S next year. I work from 7.45am until 4pm with an hour for lunch at a rate of approximately $35 an hour so it really doesn’t seem that bad and I shouldn’t complain. There are plenty of people out there struggling to find work and while my rational brain knows and accepts this, my irrational brain can only cling to the fact that I literally have NOTHING to do, am bored beyond belief and that this boredom is due to continue well into January 2014. I have no doubt that my friends are seriously sick of my continued complaining about work but try as I might, I can’t seem to steer myself away from it for an entire conversation. A simple “Work’s fine thanks” should suffice but instead I delve into a rant about how bored I am and how there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. A bit like I’m doing at the moment actually. Sorry. I will say this though, thank God for the internet and those people who release their books online for people like me to read while at work. George R. R. Martin: You’re keeping me sane and occupied with your treason filled, murderous, incestuous and soft porn stories.

Anyway, I’ll try and stop complaining. I will, however, divulge the circumstances that have lead to my current employment displeasure. Now I’ve been working for the same university in the same office for close to three years (a personal record I might add) and it’s been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I used to get up in the morning and not mind having to go into work because I worked with people who a) were super fun, b) got the job done no matter what while also having a laugh along the way and c) were just a pleasure to work with as part of a fun, cohesive and highly-productive team. The cracks at the seam began to appear when the university started going through rounds of redundancies. They weren’t entirely unexpected and I’m sure we’ve all noticed the redundancy trend that’s been making its way through other multiple industries and companies this year but when you work so successfully in an existing team, surely they wouldn’t screw it up by forcing people out. I could not have been more wrong. I’m one of the last standing members of our original administration office and the university, in terms of staff morale and productivity, have gone downhill fast. Throughout the course of the redundancies, I lost my wonderful colleagues, my desk and my employment responsibility and drive. By employment responsibility and drive I mean that I’m no longer required to manage the same number of tasks that I had become accustomed to (and ridiculously good at) and as such, am now hopelessly under appreciated and utilized in my office. What really gets my goat is that I know how awesome my office used to be and it makes me so sad to see just how far we’ve sunk into the boggy mess that is a dispirited and depressing workplace. On top of all of this, there is little to no love for the new Campus Director so staff members are even grumpier than normal and there’s no sense of community any more. The new Campus Director is of the opinion that if it’s not in your job description, you can’t be expected to do it and with this mentality and approach to work, there’s no way that any admin task gets done by the required deadline. I’ve gone so far as to go outside of my ‘official job description’ just so the work gets done because I feel like if I don’t do it, no-one will. I’m getting to the point now where, upsetting as it is to think about, I need to start looking for a new job. What used to be an excellent place to work has transformed into something that is slowly but surely eating away at my soul.

Rant end.

Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg…

‘Tis the season to be jolly and merry and all of those other holiday-related emotions except, I’m really not feeling any of them at present. The mere mention of the silly season is making me feel utterly exhausted and I haven’t even begun to get properly prepared. Sure I’ve bought a few presents for family members (thank God for online shopping) and kind-of, sort-of know what else I need to get but when I think of the actual festivities planned for the official Christmas period, I want to run and hide in a dark, dark cave of obliviousness. I have no idea why I feel the way I do about Christmas this year because normally, it’s the time of year I most look forward to. I get to open presents, eat ridiculous amounts of food and relax before starting work in the new year. Perhaps my holiday dread is coming from the fact that this year, I get the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Christmas over three days (that sentence is dripping in sarcasm just in case you didn’t realise). Sure it sounds great but pause, and reeeaally think about. I love my family but seriously, THREE DAYS! I can barely sit through an entire meal let alone three entire days, without either falling asleep of boredom or finding an excuse to leave because I have absolutely nothing to say (awkward silences and I aren’t really what you’d call ‘friends’). One day is usually a sufficient amount of time to conduct the prescribed catch-ups (How’s work? How’s uni? How long do you have left of your degree? etc) and fill my extended family quota until next Christmas but no, December 25th, 26th and 27th are going to be the death of me. Seriously. I might need to medicate just to get through it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

And the 10 finalists are…

As the year is quickly drawing to a close, I thought that this is as good a time as any to reflect on the last twelve months. Like with the years that have preceded 2013, there have been high highs and low lows which have allowed the days to pass me by in a flash. The post high school time speed up really isn’t so much a myth but more a general consensus felt by my friends and I because the older we get and the further away from high school, the faster the years seem to go by. Nevertheless, there have been many momentous occasions this year and I think that this is a good opportunity for me to list my top 5 and 10’s. There are a few different categories but like with any list maker worth their salt, they will be appropriately labeled so here goes. Just note that obviously these lists are only for what I have experienced. There will no doubt be much disagreement with some of them. Also, try not to judge me too harshly. I have a lot of guilty pleasures.

TOP 10 WINNING MOMENTS OF 2013

1. The day my friends, James and Kayla, got engaged at the top of a mountain. (I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE WEDDING IN JUNE 2014!)

2. Surprising one of my most excellent friends, Tiffany Winteler, at the airport upon her return from 6 months in Munich (There was a glitter covered sign, a shocked expression and tears. Priceless.)

3. Going on my first ever high school prac at Centenary State High School as part of my Secondary Education degree. (Teaching Year 12 English and then having a Year 12 boy come up to me and thank me on behalf of his classmates. Validation at last!)

4. Finding out that fans raised enough money to finance the Veronica Mars movie due to be released in 2014.

5. Finding, booking and paying for cheap flights to the U.S for a month in June/July 2014. ($AU1400 return. America come at me!)

6. Running my first 10km fun run in under 50 minutes (Bridge to Brisbane 2013) and completing the “Happiest 5km run in the world” (Gold Coast Colour Run 2013).

7. Seeing King Kong on stage in Melbourne. (He’s a 2 tonne puppet! AH-FREAKING-MAZING!)

8. Starting to write my blog and having complete strangers like what I’m writing.

9. Turning 26 and having a onesie party. (It was pure, unadulturated fun and I recommend that everyone try it!)

10. Getting my paws, claws, hair and make-up done for Gala on the Green. (I felt a bit like a movie star wearing my glamourous dress and jewellery. Just sayin’.)

TOP 10 FAILS OF 2013

1. Failing a take-home university test on TV genres by second guessing myself and submitting the second version of my answers instead of the first version with the correct answers. (Doh!)

2. Doing broad jumps at bootcamp carrying 20kg. (My back is still suffering the consequences 3 weeks later. I can only blame myself.)

3. Constantly having to dip into my savings because I under-estimate how much money I spend on a fortnightly basis. (Whoops!)

4. Not being able to convince my parents to take me on their month-long Greek/Turkish holiday.

5. Still having to live at home with the olds.

6. Continuing to work for a company that I no longer enjoy working for. (The money is just too good to pass up.)

7. Feeling like I’m stuck in the blackhole that is Brisbane. (I do love living here but sometimes I just really need to escape!)

8. Not paying better attention to/not really caring what I’m eating.

9. Allowing myself to be consumed by new TV episodes on iTunes rather than by my university work.

10. Witnessing Miley Cyrus gyrate and twerk while repeatedly exposing her tonsils to onlookers during her performance at the 2013 VMAs. (What was seen cannot be unseen.)

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2013 (CINEMA & DVD RELEASES)

*NB: It’s not the end of the year yet and there were a few films that I haven’t had a chance to see just yet (ie. Anchorman 2, Argo, American Hustle, Gravity etc)

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Director: Francis Lawrence With: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson)

2. Warm Bodies (Director: Jonathan Levine With: Nicolas Holt, Teresa Palmer, John Malcovich)

3. Enough Said (Director: Nicole Holofcener With: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini)

4. Furious 6 (Director: Justin Lin With: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson)

5. Iron Man 3 (Director: Shane Black With: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce)

6. Sound City (Director: Dave Grohl)

7. The Heat (Director: Paul Feig With: Sandra Bullock, Michael McDonald, Melissa McCarthy)

8. The Family (Director: Luc Besson With: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Agron, John D’Leo)

9. Now You See Me (Director: Louis Leterrier With: Jesse Eisenberg, Common, Mark Ruffalo)

10. Thor: Dark World (Director: Alan Taylor With: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston)

TOP 10 TV SERIES WATCHED/WATCHING IN 2013

1. Game of Thrones, Season 3

2. Supernatural, Season 9

3. Veronica Mars, Season 1-3

4. Grey’s Anatomy, Season 10

5. Elementary, Season 1-2

6. The Walking Dead, Season 4

7. Vampire Diaries, Season 5

8. The Originals, Season 1

9. The Carries Diaries, Season 2

10. Hart of Dixie, Season 3

TOP 5 LIVE ACTS I SAW IN 2013

1. Adam Hills “Happyism” @ The Brisbane Convention Centre

2. Taylor Swift’s RED Tour @ Suncorp Stadium

3. Arj Barker’s “Go Time” @ The Brisbane Powerhouse

4. Dead Letter Circus @ The Tempo

5. TBA… (I really should have thought this out better)

TOP 10 SONGS I LISTENED TO THE MOST IN 2013

*The songs were’t necessarily released in 2013. There are a couple of oldies in there.

1. Red – Taylor Swift

2. Clarity – Zedd featuring Foxes

3. Asleep – Emily Browning (from the Sucker Punch Soundtrack)

4. Work B**ch – Britney Spears

5. Someone To Love – Havana Brown

6. Of The Night – Bastille

7. Buses and Trains – Bachelor Girl

8. Get Lucky – Daft Punk

9. The Wire – HAIM

10. Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65

I could go on and on, making more and more lists but I suspect that there are only so many that people actually tolerate reading in one post. For now, I’ll leave the rest of my lists for future posts and leave you with a parting thought: What were your lists for 2013?

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