Monday, 10 October 2011

AsianAdventures - take two

I am not sure if I've told the beginning of this story already, so I'll start there before I move on.

It's three days into my new job at Lux. I'm on my way to work reading a Paulo Coelho book and daydreaming about travelling. I regain focus and turn the page. The title reads 'advice for travellers'.

'Gosh,' I say. 'It must be a sign.'

I get into work and am called into the other room by my editor. He asks me what I'm doing at the end of September and if I'd like to go to Hong Kong...

I'm sure I don't need to tell you how the conversation ended.

So having returned from my AsianAdventures I feel I should share some of my stories. Especially as I don't think I ever got round to writing about my AsianAdventures - take one.

My first press trip. It's like my first book or my first computer – something magical and life changing.

It's now been a week since my awesome week in Asia. When we arrived at the (beautiful) Hotel Icon we all unpacked and did our own thing until the evening. My own thing consisted of a Thai massage in the spa and a quick exploration of the local area.

This was my first time in a five star hotel and my first time in a spa. Both are things I would recommend.

Later that evening we went for dinner, where the Megaman MD insisted on getting everybody very drunk. I successfully avoided such a conclusion, but not drinking any of the shots and instead handing them over to somebody else.

Ha, rule one of journalism: Never be drunker than the people you're talking to.

There was drunkeness and dancing and new friends to be made. I set the tone for the rest of my week by making a few new friends on day one.

The factory we went to visit was in China, which meant my first ChinaTrip. We only got to stay a day and didn't really see much other than the view from the coach and the factory. I am a little in love and most definitely want to return and explore properly.

We definitely faced a communication barrier in China, unlike in Hong Kong. It makes me feel terrible that my language skills aren't great and people always speak English, which is almost an excuse not to try. (Side note: I've decided to learn Italian. Wish me luck.)


One night I managed to take a few of the other editors and the marketing girl to the red light district of Hong Kong. Wan Chai is the home of bars that stay open late mid-week, so that is were we went - to a bar called Amazonia.

Here one of the editors was repeatedly accosted by a prostitute called Sarah.

Wednesday was most of the others' last day, so we did some touristy things. We jumped in a taxi and asked for the bottom of the peak, so we could get the tram. Instead we were taken to the top of the peak, into the carpark of a shopping mall.

We followed the building up to the top, where we discovered we were in fact in the wrong building. We were high up enough to see all the awesome however, so it didn't matter.

It was very windy way up high, which we later discovered the reason for.

We got the tram back down to town and saw a sign saying 'Typhoon 1 has been hoisted' while we waited on the platform.

Later, waiting for the ferry, we saw another sign saying the same thing.

'Gee, they like naming things typhoon out here, don't they?'

It wasn't until later, when the typhoon warning reached a number 3 did we realise what the signs actually meant. Lots of the guys had to fly home that night.

As work was now officially over, I checked out of the beautiful posh hotel and into a horrible YWCA further inland. It was an unpleasant experience. The shower smelt of mould, for one.

So Thursday morning I wake up and leave the YWCA. Walking around an empty Kowloon, I giggle to myself. 'Gosh,' I think. 'How have I managed to find the quiet part of Hong Kong? I wonder where everyone is.'

No cars. No people. Strange.

After walking around for about 30 or 40 minutes, following road signs and intuition I have managed to discover many a council estate-esque place, lots of dead ends and loads of residential roads. And a taxi. A lone taxi.

I flag him down and struggle to ask for the Science Museum. On arrival I am told that the museum is closed - along with the rest of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong closed?

You see, the typhoon warning had gone up to a number 8. Eight is enough to ground flights and close businesses. Do you like how nobody at the YWCA cared to tell me about this? How they just let me walk out to my potential death!

Ok, so my first experience of a typhoon later led me to realise my life was never in any sort of danger, but for dramatic effect, let's pretend it was.

As soon as I stepped outside the Science Museum, down came the rain. And boy, did it come down. I stood under a sheltered bit for a while and watched as others did the same. Unsure how long such rainfalls last, and aware of the fact that rain can't hurt me, I started walking.

The nice hotel was only around the corner, so it wasn't so bad.

I went it, had lunch, used the free wi-fi and waited out the rain.

I ended up booking myself in for a night and spending far too much money on a room. I was there for such a long time and it was just so nice and the other place just so horrid.

And I really wanted a bath. Super expensive bath!

That evening I took myself for a walk along the harbour, when the warning went back down to three. I took pictures along the Avenue of Stars and put my hand in Bruce Lee's handprint.

I then took myself for dinner and had the most amazing thing I've ever eaten. Thai red curry in a baked pumpkin. Lush.

I soon ended up back at Amazonia, and for the first time all trip allowed myself to get drunk. I managed to befriend everyone on and near the dance floor as well as most people outside. It was a fantastic evening.

I spent my last day doing an open bus tour of Hong Kong Island, where I found Victoria Park. I sat for a while by a fountain watching an old man play with toy boats. I also discovered the play area, where they're teaching children to read brail (and English)!

All-in-all: Amazing AsianAdventures. More please.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The power of repetition

In the months between finishing my postgrad and coming to London I found myself repeating words I didn't believe. I found myself omitting information I couldn't bring myself to share. I found myself laying a foundation I didn't know I was laying.

I wrote very few blog posts in that time, but I just read one about positive thinking. At the time, I wasn't prepared to divulge how broken I was. This was in part because I didn't want to upset the person who broke me and partly because I didn't want to show weakness.

The interesting thing about weakness is, once you've overcome it, you don't mind people knowing it was once a cross you carried. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but that's how it has worked in my situation.

Photo by MrsMinifig
But my vague attempts to pretend I was fine and thinking positive in fact led to a newfound positive attitude. Things that I said in that blog post - and that I found (still find) myself repeating to people around me - became part of my being. They sunk into the depths of my conscious and pitched up.

'Nothing is ever as bad as it seems,' is but an example. Telling people that positive energy breeds positivity seemed to ignite a positivity I didn't know I possessed, but pretended to flaunt.

'There are two types of people in this world, those who say they're going to do something and those who do it.' - But another example of a line I repeated, up until the point I became the latter type of person.

Since my return from Hell (also known as sunny Swindon), I've been on many an adventure, spoken to many different types of people, made many new friends and read many new books, as I begin to discover my path. A path I may not have known I was looking for if everything didn't go to shit.

One of my favourite quotes of late is from a Paulo Coelho book: 'Sometimes, certain blessings arrive by shattering all the windows.'

Photo by Ed Schipul
I think that's true.

I think if I can go from wanting to vanish off the face of the Earth, to a balanced contentment so sharply, anybody can. So for anyone body reading this who is feeling down or hating the world or things just aren't going right for you, try a little experiment. What's it going to hurt?

Spend the next month saying:

'Nothing's ever as bad as it seems,' and 'I'm so lucky.'

On repeat. Repetition is key. Say it to yourself and say it to other people. And while you're at it start saying 'yes' more.

Danny Wallace may have played an important role in changing my life =p Maybe you should also read Yes Man, while you're at it.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Something magical

I posted something magical to SuperPennie.com. I'd love for you to go investigate =]

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Every so often things change

Every so often I remember that I've been ignoring you. And slightly less often I tell myself this needs to be addressed. And even less often I find myself sat here, spilling an unedited stream of conscious down the throats of whoever is prepared to read it.

Things change. Life is in this constant state of flux and the better you get at keeping up with the waves, the more fun the whole game is. Unfortunately, nobody ever really gets the hang of the game completely and we all wipeout once in a while.

Since having returned to London at the end of May, I've started seeing things differently. Or rather, I've started seeing things. Really looking at the world around me. Really taking in everything that I possibly can and my change of approach has had positive repercussions.

I am now the assistant editor on Lux magazine - and I can tell you this: This is most certainly the perfect PennieJob.

I get to do real journalism. I get to go out and talk to people and make things happen. I get to organise and write and take pictures. I get to experience the journalistic process every step of the way.

And I am so damn lucky.

My change of approach has me meeting new people, doing new things, seeing new sights. I've always been pretty impulsive, but I'm definitely more so. Just decide and go. Maybe that should be my motto.

As always, every good comes with its fair share of bad and my bad was pretty bad. But humans tend to focus on the bad a bit too much. So I'm putting it in a box. Nostalgia is great but it can hold you back, remind you of a good that you'll never have again and hinder all those new goods trying to find you. And the old goods were pretty perfect goods while they lasted and I will always look upon them fondly, but the world will give you new goods everyday if you let it.

I've been reading an awful lot since starting at Lux - I read a lot already, but much more these days - thanks to my epic hour and a half journey to work in the morning (and thus hour and a half journey back again). My love for Paulo Coelho has been rekindled with a new found openness to the universe and to life in general. This openness has pushed me towards a path that I'm sure I'm meant to be on and have no idea to where it leads. But that most definitely makes it all the more exciting! It's a constant adventure and a daily dose of something new and it's perfect.

The other day I met a witch. I've never met a witch before and it was fascinating. I feel as though I learnt  much about myself and the nature of being through our conversation - perhaps not 'learnt' in the sense that I could explain any of it to anyone, more like this subtle understanding that I'm going the right way.

I have no idea what that way is and I'm pretty sure everyone's way is a different way and thus certain paths must cross and sometimes walk together in time, but eventually paths must split.

We will all come across people within our lives who we were meant to meet and who will play an important role in our lives, so just go with it while it lasts. You never know what they can teach you.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Not talking

A friend just sent me to: Why shoddy writing is better than good writing by Claire Creffield. His intention was to hurry me up and encourage me to blog something, so here I go:

During an emotional crisis, not talking seems like the best idea. The more you talk about something, the more you are thinking about something and the more that something is going to get to you. So I try to avoid talking about things that make me cry.

The only problem with this technique however, is that it is normally something that I probably need to talk about.

So, where do you find the balance?

If you start talking about these things that you know in your gut you shouldn't talk about, then start getting over emotional, you look like a fool. This is only going to make things worse, because I can guarantee that more often then not, you are going to tell the person that you really shouldn't be telling and looking like a fool in front of the person you really want to think highly of you.

So, what do you do?

Well, as it stands, I have absolutely no idea. I think it's about trying really hard to not feel anything, then you can talk about it and it doesn't matter. But even better than that: it just doesn't matter.

I used to be in a constant state of it-just-doesn't-matter a while back. Some of you may remember way back when, when I first started this blog. I named it A Broken Nihilist on purpose. Dissect at point. Then something happened. In amongst the general rubbish that life throws at you, I caught something special.

Happy works like dominos.

Once you start getting happy, suddenly you look around you and everything is fabulous. You see rainbows on cloudy days and find change lying around. You believe that everything is going to be ok and that the world is actually alright. That things always work out how they are supposed to.

You start to believe things you once thought were ridiculous. You start to believe in love. You become that bubbling pot of rainbow juice.

The problem with this new happy-clappy-loved-up-flappy state is that you are vulnerable. The most vulnerable you have ever been. You get paranoid. You become terrified that something is going to shake the boat. Then before you know it you are right back at self-destruct. Right where you started - and you have no idea how to not be. You realise that within the nothingness of before, you were safe. You realise that pleasure brings pain. You wish more than anything that you can just go back, go back to feeling nothing. You try to convince yourself it's possible.

But your efforts are wasted. Inside you can still hear that happy-clappy voice telling you to keep going. Telling you the pleasure is worth the pain. Telling you things will work out and to be strong.

So the internal conflict leaves you bouncing between paralysis and mania. And you sit and wonder what you are supposed to do to make everything alright. You sit alone, like before, and try to focus. Because when you focus you are amazing. And you know you are going to make it, but you don't want to have to do it alone.

But I guess life is full of ups and downs and it's just part of growing up to learn how to deal with both. However the number of midlife crisis' and such leads me to believe that an awful lot of people never figure it out.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Positive thinking

I just spent half an hour talking to Jehovah Witnesses at my door, discussing how you should just enjoy everyday. How there is no way of knowing if there is a god or not, so you should just embrace life. Because if this is all there is, why waste it hoping that what happens next is better?

I didn't change their opinion and they didn't change mine, but for 30 minutes I was me again. I was happy and positive.

This week has been pretty shit, but I'm ok. Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is and there are always people who have it worse, so why be upset about anything?

Last Friday (not yesterday) I graduated PMA. I now have a postgrad. Pow. The nine weeks leading up to that day where amazing, I learnt so much and grew up an awful lot. A concept that has always scared the shit out me, but I'm accepting it. I'm a better person for it. Everyday.

We created a trade magazine called Festival Business, which is incredible. Check out our website (which will hopefully be better soon): www.festivalbusiness.co.uk

Next step is finding a job on a magazine. I have been applying all week to different publications, trying to master the art of the cover letter. Journalism makes me so excitable and the thought of spending the rest of my life in the game is simply perfect. The PMA folk reckon we should all be employed in no time, so I'm not too worried. I'll just keep pushing forwards, 'cause determination is something I have heaps of.

A couple of days ago I decided I needed an adventure, so I will be going on a Mount Kilimanjaro trek in February to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society. I chose to help them as my dad has Alzheimer's and I can see what it does. It makes you feel helpless, as if there is nothing you can do to make a difference. So I'm going to try, even if I'm just helping people in the future.

I have yet to register for this adventure as I need £400, of which I have zero pounds. But I'll get it. Then I will raise at least £4k and get fit enough not to die. It's exciting. I've never been on a trek before, so I should probably have picked somewhere easier for my first attempt, but heck, I've never been one to do things by halves.

With days filled with nothing but free time at the moment, I am keeping busy, but this should mean my blog should start getting more attention again. I've missed you!

SP

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Monday Is The Day That Everything Changes

Things change all the time, this is true. But once in a while there is something big that you just know is going to change your world and you just have to believe it'll be for the better. Now sometimes those little things that you don't take much notice of, massively affect your world. But for now, I'm focussing on something I believe will be huge.

On Monday I start my postgraduate course in magazine journalism. It will be nine weeks of intense studying as I make my way to becoming a little closer to the person I most want to be. I will learn more than just how to write like a journalist. I will learn about myself and I will learn about a world I know very little about. For these nine weeks I will move back to London and not really get to see anyone, as I will be studying seven days a week. All day. Everyday. This means I won't see Kaity for nine weeks, which will be a challenge in itself.

That's two very different, yet somehow connected challenges, running alongside eachother. The next challenge is to not let one damage the other. I suppose that would namely be, don't let missing Kaity stop me succeeding. Because that would be stupid. Because what is the point of working so hard and spending so much money, just to fail, because I'm love sick? Nothing. I know it is going to be hard. I have seen Kaity everyday for months and we are rarely ever apart, so this will be difficult. But I just have to keep myself occupied (which, by the sounds of the course, shouldn't be too difficult), until I get back. Then we have the rest of our lives to play =]

I have been concerned that the others on my course would all be smarter than me. Better than me at shorthand, at writing, at social skills. Just better, generally. But after talking to some of them about shorthand today via email, I feel less worried. I think none of us are prepared for what we are about to embark on and that is kind of comforting. All I know is that I have to work my socks off and that this week I will get through as much of that shorthand book as I can, I'm on chapter five so far, which isn't so bad =]