Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Telling Stories

After being somewhat inspired by the new blog of a university friend of mine, I decided sharing some stories from my past with you could be quite interesting. Having a retrospective view of the events allows for a different understand of how and why things happened, whilst offering you, my trusty army of followers, an insight into the life and times of SuperPennie, before she claimed her title.

Once upon a time, lived a dorky little girl called Pennie Varvarides. She was the youngest of three, born nine and a half years after number two, her elder sister Helen. You may be wondering why there was such a massive gap... no? Well, I'm going to explain this to you anyway...

After my mother had my sister, she had one of those coil things put in, so she couldn't have any more kids for a while. They couldn't really afford another one and they had far too much work to do as it was. Unfortunately something went wrong and the coil got infected, so it had to be removed. The dr's told my mother she wouldn't be able to have any more children. She just wanted to put it off for a bit, until they were in a better place, but it looks like the dr's just took with them any hopes for another child, ever, even if they were ready and really wanted one. So eventually they stopped even thinking about it (I don't actually know if that's true, I'm just guessing... but I'm the storyteller... so I'm allowed =p), until one day my mother started going through those familiar signs of pregnancy.... that's right... it was me!

My parents and the dr's were all worried that there would be something wrong with me and this is how I got my name. In the Greek Orthadox religion, by naming your baby after a saint you are promising them your child's soul in exchange for protection... or maybe that's just the deal my mum had with Mary. You see Pennie is short for Panayiota, which in Greek is the name taken from the word Παναγια (bah-nah-yee-ah) referring to the mother of Jesus; Mary.

My sister always told me she asked Santa for a little sister and that he gave her me... I was born in March though, so just always thought Santa was tardy with his deliveries that year or something.
My brother always told me he had asked for a little brother and to compromise, rather than sending two new babies, I was a tomboy. This sounded logical to me... I just always assume I was like a boy, just without boy bits. Made perfect sense... to a 5 year old.

Being considerably younger than my brother and sister (as well as all the cousins) I got used to playing on my own. So much so, I kind of preferred it. Now days, I'm still pretty much the same, really enjoying any time I have to just hang out with myself and not have to talk or worry about whether my actions are fitting into those social norms everyone tries so hard to fit into....
Actually, to be honest, I never make that much effort in trying to be sociable and follow suit. I just have been lucky enough to find other people who are equally bonkers or geeky to bide my time with.

In playing by myself, I would often lay claim to empty notebooks that my parents had yet to start on and pens I found lying around. I'd write my own stories, of love and adventure and even put them into chapters. I'd pretend I had my own magazine or newspaper and interview adults around my parents factory if I'd been taken with them on days there wasn't anyone to babysit me. I'd write my own songs and dance around the house singing to myself. I was always writing. If I wasn't writing, I'd be making up games where I'd be keeping scores... where I'd still be writing, just stretching my arithmetic skills.

It didn't occur to me that I was always supposed to be a writer until fairly recently though, as strange as that is. I had wanted to be a scientist and invent things from as young as I can remember up until the age of 7, when I switched to wanting to be a lawyer for some reason. I imagine this thought was carefully planted in me from an external source, but I have no idea. When deciding on universities I went to visit King's College London on the law open day. I then went to a few other law open days. I realised it was most definitely something I never in a million years ever wanted to do. But I did however fall in love with King's and had my heart set on studying something there.

I picked up the prospectus and flicked to the humanities section, as writing and reading have always been my strong suit. Humanities subjects are the ones I'm best at. Had a flick through, took in mind the ALevel grades I thought I could get and picked a course out of those choices. It came down to philosophy and English lit, but as I'd never done philosophy before, it seemed like an amazing idea and I went with it.

This all kind of makes it sound a little planned out and thoughtful, but in reality this process took about 5 minutes. I can be fairly impulsive sometimes, but I find it normally works out ok. Part of me just kind of knew that was the right decision and there wasn't anything else I should be doing.

I wrote the most amazing personal statement, with help from a friend of mine from Taekwon Do who was currently doing her masters at King's in English. On seeing my personal statement my head of sixth form got really excited and came to speak to me. He had studies Maths and Philosophy at university and wanted to share in a moment with me. I had no idea about any philosophy whatsoever, apart from the first book of Plato's Republic which I had read while writing my personal statement for some inspiration and to be able to say I read it.

He introduced me to Sartre. He lent me Nausea and insisted I read it. I was hooked. By the time I finished reading it I was in love. In love with Sartre. In love with philosophy. And in love with words. The book made me feel so much, so much more than a book had ever made me feel before. I knew then that I had to be a writer. To one day create something that can make somebody feel even half as much as I felt reading Sartre.

One day, I'll write something that amazing. But I'm still just a baby in the grand scheme of things I guess, just finding my footing in the world. So I'm not in a hurry. When something comes to me, I'll just go with it.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Job Hunt Strategies

It seems in this day and age, finding a job is not an easy venture. For every available position there seem to be scores of applicants to compete against, meaning standing out from the crowd is a major factor. Finding your first real job is thus painfully difficult for most, after all there are so many people with years of experience, why pick up a graduate?

After a couple of months of sending out CV's and applications I am taking on a more aggressive approach. I'm collecting the contact details for all the jobs I'm applying to, and in a few days I will phone them and remind them of my sheer awesomeness in the hopes of encouraging them to hire me. In finding a job, you need to get noticed and a phone call is more noticeable than an email, which can be lost in a packed out inbox never to be given a second thought. A couple of phone calls may be what it takes to get someone's attention.

Earlier tonight I found a fantastic job giving me the foot in the door I am in such desperate search for. I wrote the perfect cover letter and clicked apply.... only to be faced with the guardian website/the internet crashing on me. It was lost. I couldn't even find the page again anywhere. I had written the contacts name down already, but there was no other contact information available... thanks to the powers of the internet and some good Googling skills I found not only his email address but his phone number. I sent him a personalised email and my CV in the hopes of a (positive) response. And I plan to make use of his phone number.

I must admit, I hate talking on the phone, but if I get brushed off I will be trying again. You have to be persistent to get anywhere and in a world where your voice blends into the background, you just need to learn to make more noise. Wish me luck in this venture people. And if anyone has any UK media/publishing contacts they wish to share with me, I will be more than grateful.

Monday, 13 September 2010

It's All About The Buzz: Hearts Under Fire

It's always about the buzz; the attention you can get in the area you live and breath. And that is exactly what these guys need!

Hearts Under Fire are a fantastic band who need your help! I have been in love with these guys for years, ever since I first heard their acoustic demo of Spitting Glass up on their Myspace. Since then they have been making swift steps to stardom and I even got the chance to see them play Download this year! But they need to create a buzz to win a competition, which will give them the chance to record a new album with RedBull Bedroom Jam as well as a support slot on the Kids In Glass Houses Tour.

All you have to do is Tweet "@rb_bj @heartsunderfire #huftowin"
Or go to their Myspace and listen to a track or two and leave a comment.
Or go to RedBull Bedroom Jam and watch their video (which is pretty damn awesome =p ) and leave a comment.

It measures how much hype a band is getting. There isn't long left, so let's give this a final push =]

Currently in first place is a band called You And What Army, who also performed at Download this year. Personally I felt they had really bad attitude and were rude to the fans. The lead singer insulted playing Download making out as though he were too big for it. For this reason, I don't think they deserve to win (or need to apparently =p)

So if you do one thing today, make it listening to Hearts Under Fire or checking out their video.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Eye's Wide Shut

Though there has been much of a transformation in my outlook and behaviour this year, I have far from reached my goal. My goal being the place I would most like to be of course. I still find myself falling into the same traps and missing the same sign posts I've failed to avoid for a while. But the other day offered me a wake up call. From another one of my own mistakes I was able to truly see why I need to move forward and let go of certain chains that have held me down for so long.

But how? How does one walk away from their comfort zone and step out into the real world? To start taking responsibility and taking all ones chances rather than letting opportunities fly by?

I imagine to one extent or another, everyone has been in a similar situation. Perhaps you are so used to a person you can't recognise their actions as being negative or inappropriate; perhaps you are so frightened of the world you are quick to retreat back into yourself and your world of fantasy. There are a million different scenarios you could find yourself in, that leave you lost or broken.

I can't pretend to be able to help anyone achieve anything. I'm still young and don't know much. I can't imagine I'll ever know much, perhaps just learn how best to deal with a lack of true knowledge. Or how best to deal with the superficial knowledge we are accustomed to. But this isn't a philosophical blog about the nature of knowledge and our ability to possess it... I'm sure many of you already know where I more or less stand on the matter. This is about a community helping each other.

I like to think that my regular followers can come together through their comments to share some advice with one another. I have come to realise the only way to save yourself from a bad situation, is to find something to hold onto that makes you want to stay clear of the darkness. But finding something to hold onto isn't enough. You can't climb from the darkness for someone or something else, because if that thing or person were to ever disappear you would fall straight back down. You need to do it for you. You need to truly want to see the light and have that happy fuzzy feeling when you wake up. You have to want your health. You have to want to achieve something. Having something to aim for makes it easier; set's your focus.

I would love to hear back from you lot! How do you pick yourselves up when you're down? How do you keep yourselves from falling back?

Friday, 10 September 2010

When Dreams Blend With Reality

You know those dreams that feel so real, you wake up thinking they happened? Even when you know they didn't really happen and that you were only dreaming, they've still manage to get hold your your emotions and can determine how the rest of your days go. In a discussion with a friend of mine the other day, she was telling me she woke up very cross with her girlfriend, 'cause in her dream she had been cheating on her (or maybe they broke up, I don't remember the specifics on this one).

These dreams can take you by the throat and halt your breathing, or make you anxious. They can stun you into a daze, where you are completely and utterly confused. And they can jolt you into consciousness with tears or fear embedded. Sometimes you may not even remember what it was you dreamed about or think perhaps you didn't have a dream at all, yet somehow you still awaken somewhat shaken.

Recently I had a dream that my father was trying to kill me and chasing me around the area we live in with this metal rod type weapon. The only way to save myself was to  kill him. I was terrified and didn't want to hurt him, but I had no choice; he'd gone mad. So I found my own metal rod thing and stabbed him in the chest with it. I woke up in tears. The next time I went to my parents house I told him all about it and he laughed at me and told me to give him a cuddle. He said this old saying in Greek, which pretty much translates to 'stupid dreams come to stupid people'. I felt a lot better at this point. When I walked into the house I just felt guilty. Guilt that I killed my own dad in cold blood... Now obviously I know that that was a dream and that he is still here and he is able to hug me... but it changes nothing. I still felt it.

You know when dreams come back to you, hours later, or sometimes even days? Well, I had one of those moments. The other day I was acting all strange and dopey when I woke up, more so than usual. My eyes were leaking but I didn't feel like I had a reason to cry, I was quiet and had trouble focusing and just generally not ok. I just thought I was still tired or something. Maybe I was exhausted after a night of dreams and no real sleep.

Isn't it strange how if you go to bed and dream all night you wake up completely worn out? It's like the recuperative nap was a complete waste of time.

As my dream from the other night came back to me, I realised why I must have been acting so bizarre. It was that guilt again. Not the same as the killing-my-father-in-cold-blood kinda guilt, but a guilt nonetheless. Guilt for something that didn't even happen.

Who else has the same sort of strong connection to their dreams? I'd love to know some of your stories of how your dream affected your mornings, or even your whole day!
Why do you think we can be made to feel so many things by something we know to be separate from our reality? Sometimes, dreams are so realistic, you find yourself confusing them with memories. Ticking things off a to-do list you never did and catching up with friends you never phoned. Have you ever continued a conversation you'd been thinking about all day, only to discover the conversation never happened and the person has no idea what you are talking about?

Imagine the consequences of particular dreams that are so realistic they blend into your reality so completely, it has you fooled for a substantial period of time. Imagine a scenario where you relived a real time event, but played it out a little different. Maybe you had an argument with someone the other day and you were still very cross about it, but in your dream instead of walking away you got into a physical fight. Or the person you were arguing with attacked a love one in your dream world... what do you think the chances of you wanting to deck the person next time you see them, either because you think they got aggressive, or because you were simply overcome by an unexplainable urge and strong emotions egging you on?

Share you thoughts =] I always love hearing back from you lot!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

New Look

Just a quicky to ask you all what you think of the new layout? The lovely GregoryGaige spent the evening (morning) designing and implementing SuperPennie's facelift. He is a bit amazing =]

As I'm doing the update thing, I finally finished reading 1984. I know, it took me ages! I'm a slow reader... well not exactly. I read loads, fairly quickly, then wear myself out and only read tiny bits in several intervals until I get all excited about it and read loads in one go again. I have a short attention span!

I started reading Aldous Huxley's Brave New World yesterday, on recommendation from a man that frequents our pub. He lent it to me ages ago, but as it took me so long to get through 1984 I have only just got round to it. I will try my best to read this faster.

I was left a little empty after 1984. I will now permit myself to watch the movie and compare. I didn't want to watch it first. Though I am not looking forward to the bit with the rats.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Spotting The Light In The Darkness

For those of you who have been by my side since my early days of blogging, you have most likely noticed a shift in perspective. Some followers may have since stopped reading, having felt the darker tones were what they required of me, rather than the sparks of light that sometimes weave into my consciousness. To those, I apologise. Not for letting you down, but for leaving you behind. 

Constant negativity and pessimism may seem 'realistic' but does nothing for you. It leaves you hollow and bitter. This is from first hand experience, perhaps it suits others better, but I for one love it when I can hold on to the good. Sometimes I pretend to see the good, as many of you know, because it's what those around you want. It's hard work being the one having to put up with the negative person who wants so much but expects so little, to the point where they stop wanting. I've been on both ends of the stick, so I can understand both sides. It takes a lot out of a person if you're always down, and you can say it isn't your fault that you're down, the world just hates you, but I've seen people who have been through more than I could have imagined still shining bright. These people are doing more than just holding on and being strong, they are living. They are taking the world by the horns and riding it all the way to the end. These people inspire me. 

On Saturday I woke up in a very bad mood. I feel like if I tell you why I'm over disclosing, but perhaps we've come too far not to. I woke up in pain, horrible, stomach crunching pain. It seems by body is confused about the natural menstrual cycle and is on repeat, every two weeks. To anyone who has ever experienced a bad period, I'm sure you can empathise. I then discovered numerous texts and missed calls from my mother, who has locked herself out, along with my father and our dog. I'm not entirely sure how all of them got locked out or how they managed to close both the inner and the outer door... but I am the only other person with a key. 

Instead of getting a locksmith (who would be there in 30 mins) they wanted me to come and let them in. You may be thinking, that's hardly a big deal Pennie... but I am in Swindon and they live in London. So it would take me 3 hours to get there at least, especially as I just rolled out of bed! 

Has anyone travelled London on a weekend? It's not fun, I assure you! Almost every tube line had part closures or delays meaning we didn't get to their house until around 4pm (we woke up at 11.45 ish). 

You can imagine my dismay at this request. I was not happy. 

But now, the light...

Saturday was my best friends 22nd birthday and I couldn't afford to get to London to see her. The situation with my parents meant, they would give me the money for the train thus enabling me to see my friend. We were able to surprise her by turning up at her door unannounced when she finished work. We also spent the day baking her a magnificent birthday cake until we met up with everyone in the pub for a birthday drink. 

As I wasn't expecting to go I sent her a card on Friday - recorded delivery - so she could open it in the morning. It didn't turn up on time. I also sent her a present from a website online, paying for next day delivery. Not only did this not turn up Saturday morning, but I was charged twice, because their website malfunctioned. I was sent an email today saying it's been dispatched, but I emailed them on Friday demanding they do not charge me twice. I was ignored. I may have to phone them. I just hope she would have got it today at least. 

Amongst my really bad day I was given the opportunity to see my friend. By focusing on that part it helped me ignore the bad mood I was in and enjoy the day. I suppose it's a lesson for everyone... search out the good bits, 'cause it'll help you through the bad.