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Living Presently in a Pandemic

You’re confined to your house, have one contact hour a week (where your lecturer spends thirty minutes trying to work out how breakout rooms work), and you can’t help but ask yourself “when is this all going to blow over?” as you devour another batch of your housemate’s cookies. We’ve all been there, but how can we try to simmer down our anxiety riddled brains? As a third year student endeavouring to finish a degree, work a part time job, and not have a mental breakdown during a global pandemic, I have found that practicing mindfulness and taking time to meditate helps to ground me in the present moment and keep me from getting too overwhelmed. We’re all so busy, especially as term starts to pick up, and sometimes we feel guilty for what appears to be sitting down and doing nothing. But maintaining your own mental state is as productive as exercising your body or making a meal and is necessary in preventing burn out and generally supporting your mental health. Continue reading Living Presently in a Pandemic

i just woke up from the worst night of my life. i am twenty years old. i live in a city called Riverside, another city in the west. i am not from here. i come from Africa, the eastern part of Ethiopia, if you must know. i am here for school, attending college. and last night, last night was the darkest of nights for me. i am most certain the devil visited me. it hugged, kissed and did not let me sleep until my whole self gave up to its unsolicited caress. somethings are true. fear, anxiety, devil, evil, these things are true. they are for everyone in some ways, but until they happen to you, it is easy to believe they are not true. some crazed minds made them up to scare others. because until they happen to you for real, the idea of thinking about them is fun, enjoyable, giggly. but not last night. not when my lonely room shrunk to six inches, and in the midst of gasping for breath, in the midst of my extreme exhaustion, i was still keeping a tab on my eyes not to close themselves – because i did not trust them anymore. that i would not wake up if i let them shut. that the devil, in its grotesque gaze, was waiting for me to make this mistake for a split second, so it manifests itself all over my naked body in winter – sweating in winter, in a cold room.
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Acknowledging Uncertainty: How Coronavirus has Changed the Way We Plan For the Future

Our lives are mapped around referential points. We all have calendars littered with birthdays, exams, parties, graduation ceremonies, interviews, visits to friends, events, plays, holidays, gigs. None of us live purely spontaneously. For decades modern life has functioned on the presumption that imposing order onto our immediate futures will make us more productive, prompt and predictable. Life is prearranged invisibly around us, marked by the constant promises of the near future, what’s coming next, what will I be doing tomorrow? Continue reading Acknowledging Uncertainty: How Coronavirus has Changed the Way We Plan For the Future

Review: Dare Me

Once more I was lured in by the banner at the top of my Netflix flaunting a new series. This time it was Dare Me. On the surface it seemed to be a Riverdale-esque teen drama, centred around cheerleaders. Given that Riverdale is my guilty pleasure and being a member of the University’s Cheerleading and Gymnastics squads, I was inevitably drawn to the show. However, within the first episode it was clear that this series was both badly written and should certainly contain a trigger warning, given its appalling treatment of body image and eating disorders. The acting was generally poor, and the so-called cheerleading was even worse, and borderline laughable. The reckless treatment of mental health issues, as well as the bizarre plot, made me quickly realise I would not be recommending Dare Me to my lockdown-bound friends. Continue reading Review: Dare Me

Reading Corner: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

My sister and I gave The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse to our mum for Christmas – a wise present it turns out, seeing as I’ve now read it more times than she has. Looking at it again this past week has been a comforting escape. The book is formed from a collection of beautifully expressive ink illustrations with handwritten words, stitched together by a gently anchoring narrative. We follow four friends: an inquisitive boy who asks questions about the world and ponders his relationships with the others; a mole full of reassuring words, whose thoughts are also largely occupied by cake (which makes for some of my favourite moments); a fox who is reserved and quiet because of their past, yet loved by the others no matter what; and a wise horse who reveals an ability to fly. The story’s subtle linearity stitches the order of the pages together, but you don’t need to read it cover to cover. Each page is an isolated piece of art and storytelling in its own right, so dip in and dip out; you’ll never be lost in the story. Continue reading Reading Corner: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

In Defence of the “ME” Generation

Where the phrase “ME” generation used to refer to baby boomers, it’s now being used to talk about Gen Y (aka Millennials, anyone born between 1980-94) and Gen Z (or iGen, born between 1995-2010). And oh boy, we’re not coming off well! From the older generations to the mass media, you’d be forgiven for thinking Gen Z is the root of all evil. Countless newspaper headlines proclaim we’re entitled, lazy and prone to getting upset over nothing, all while stockpiling avocados and ruining things such as dinner dates, napkins and divorce (yes, those are all real headlines). It’s official: we’re the worst … except we’re not. We may not be perfect (who is?) but there are so many things we’re doing right, from spreading political awareness to being more considerate towards others. Here are just a few areas where Gen Z is leading positive change and making a difference. Continue reading In Defence of the “ME” Generation

Review: Salmon @ Exeter Phoenix

Entering Exeter Phoenix’s Workshop, we find protagonist Angus (Josh Smith) sprawled on a mattress, surrounded by marks of decay and neglect. In his litter of crushed beer cans, empty wrappers and cigarette packets, it’s easy to see that this is a man who’s not doing well. Yet Angus is much less capable of admitting this to himself. On this journey towards acceptance, writers and directors Constance McCaig and Eva Lily have shaped a compelling narrative that bravely faces drug-culture, mental health, and the difficulties of youth, delving into these complex themes with fierce honesty and intensity.
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Saying Goodbye to BoJack Horseman

There are many ways to discuss the legacy of BoJack Horseman. One could talk about how it introduced a whole new era of adult-orientated animation, or how its shift to a darker tone after the first six episodes utilised the new form of binge watching created by the rise of Netflix original content. There are many metrics and viewing figures to explain the impact of BoJack Horseman, but what can’t be directly measured is the impact the stories it has told have had on people’s lives. Continue reading Saying Goodbye to BoJack Horseman

More Than Moustaches: Why Movember Matters

Now that the month is over, it feels like a good time to consider the scope of what the Movember movement is tackling in terms of men’s physical and mental health. First started in 2003 in Australia when four friends asked twenty-six others to ‘bring back the trend’ of growing moustaches, Movember has come a long way – raising £598 million over the last sixteen years. The annual event has become about more than just growing out your facial hair, with men and women across the globe raising awareness and money for this worthwhile cause. Continue reading More Than Moustaches: Why Movember Matters