Go Round

Ruins of Errwood HallSpanish ShrinePath to Shining Tor
A few months ago I mentioned to my father that I wished to go walking in the peak district to climb up Shutlingsloe in good weather, as we had climbed that hill before in rain, snow, wind aka every cold, miserable weather imaginable and I was curious as to how it would be on a better day. Yesterday to my surprise my dad announced he would be taking me and my sister today. Of course he had a plan as he so often does and he had decided we would still head into the peak district but instead take a trail to Cats Tor and eventually Shining Tor, which is a hill opposite to Shutlingsloe that is also about 50m higher. We had to get up very early this morning, leaving the house at around nine. I’ve not gotten up so early in a while and I was surprised at how exhausted I didn’t feel. I was actually a little excited. We arrived at the car park mid morning and after some confusion over where we were going we started our walk at about 10:45am. There were quite a few people about but for the most part we were alone on the trail. It was quite atmospheric walking along these lonely paths with only the sound of the birds and wind and occasionally the rush of water from nearby streams.

We entered lush forest and passed the ruins of Errwood hall, which was smaller than expected. Still, it was completely remote and I could not help but imagine what it would have been like a hundred years ago, and conjure an image of one of those isolated, eerie mansions that form the setting of a Gothic novel. Onwards and we then passed a small Spanish shrine, still maintained inside with candles lit up and offerings set out, then exited the woodland to walk through barren fields, alongside a quiet road, stopped for a moment to sit and eat lunch, then through more empty fields up and up towards Shining Tor.

It seemed as if we would never reach the summit- the hill doesn’t have that much of a defined peak compared to its neighbour, and eventually the climb evens out to a really subtle incline so you can’t quite tell when you’re going to reach your destination. The wind was severe right up on the hill. For lunch we sat in front of a wall which thankfully blocked the wind but up on the hill the walls had started to crumble and the wind went straight through me. It at least had the affect that I never got too hot, and only my hands ever felt truly cold. It had actually turned out to be a nice day and good weather for walking- neither too cold nor hot. I was also nervous about it starting to rain and was relieved that although the sky was overcast enough to look interesting in photos, it never actually rained! When we finally reached the peak I was happy enough to stride out confidently to the edge only to end up crouching down in fear, recoilling from the edge, having not realised just how strong the wind was, and suddenly becoming a little afraid of tumbling over the edge. I am irrationally and ridiculously afraid of a lot of things, I do realise this. The view was quite nice though, although my hands were unsteady from nerves and the wind so I got no decent pictures :(

Of course once we were up the only way was down, even though by this point I (and I think both my father and sister, too) was fairly tired from trekking all the way up there (It had taken us about 3 hours to reach the peak). On the way back we clambered over a trail going across peat land, so the ground was soft and squishy beneath out feet which was entirely bizarre. My dad jumped beside me and I could feel the land ‘spring’ beneath my feet! We exited that path and walked alongside a road for a while before going back into the woodland, where the path was wet for 70% of the time and I ended up splattered in mud (admittedly mostly through my own idiocity…), but there was thankfully no candid camera moment of falling. We stayed in the woodland right back to the car park, walking across streams, passing by the hall again, spotting lizards on the rock walls… it was really interesting and so very pretty. I nearly tripped over my feet a couple of times because I was too busy admiring the scenery.

After a total of four or five hours of walking we made it back to the car park. I was tired and my legs were aching but it was quite rewarding once we made it back. We indulged in some rich ice cream before heading back home.

Being the sort of person who idles her time sitting in front of the computer meant that at times the walk was really quite tiring, but somehow it was also quite relaxing. It was fun being with my family too. My legs are so stiff and sore right now but think it was worth it – it turned out to be a fun day.

Come on, show your happiness in a new colour

Well, exams are over now. I had my last on Thursday and it went terribly, as all the others did. I’m not surprised at this one; I’m not confident with the subject and I know I didn’t work as hard as I should have for it. I was so fed up after the first three that I could barely get myself revising. I hope I have done enough to pass it at  least. Now comes the wait for results. There’s a lot resting on these results and I can honestly say I’m terrified. I don’t know what I’ll do if I fail, so I’m trying not think about it (and in that way, its all I can think of)

After the exam I got some celebratory coffee and came back to my room and I suddenly felt so unsure of myself. When revising there are always other things to do. But when you suddenly find yourself with free time its like there’s so much to do and no pressure to do any of it due to the complete lack of time limits, that you don’t even know where to begin. Its like- what do I do now?!  I’m done with my first year of university. Already. Its weird. But despite my anxiety over exam results, I am glad this semester is finally done with. That uni is done with for another year. I’m ready to take a break, recharge a bit before having to go into second year.

I came home for the weekend last night . I am attending  the wedding reception of my sisters best friend today. It’s strange that the wedding is already happening. I remember sitting in the car with my sister and her friends when this friend announced her engagement, at that time it was still a secret, not quite set in stone. It doesn’t feel like that long ago but it really was. I really wonder what it is like for my sister to watch her best friend get married. Shame, she has had to help organise this wedding and its obvious how stressed and emotional she is. I personally am not sure what to think about going to wedding reception. I’m grateful to be invited, but this is a social event and I am not exactly social. My sister was telling me what was likely to be happening and so I told her “I’m going to have to get very drunk for this, aren’t I?” That may turn out to be true. Gosh, there’s going to be dancing. I don’t dance. For the good of other people, that is.

I bought my dress two weeks ago, and I have some high heels that make me like 6ft tall and I am not sure I can walk in, and I did my makeup nicely although I’m terribly broken out from stress and nothing can cover it and I forgot my pressed powder which is annoying.  Its rather weird dressing up like this. I didn’t even go to my school proms!  So I’m feeling unsure of myself in this way too.

I hope its going to be fun. I could do with a nice  fun evening after exams.

I need to go finish getting ready now- I’m nearly late!

If not now

I’m finding it difficult to sleep lately. I’ve been staying up into the small hours of the morning, afraid of my own thoughts and those horrible hours lying awake with only these thoughts to accompany me. The darkness and the quiet is stifling and I always find my mind going to strange places, thinking about everything from the books I have been reading, to making up random stories, to remembering I forgot to take the trash out earlier. The night before last I went to bed at 3am and lay awake for hours, tossing and turning and unable to become comfortable, unable to switch my mind of. Eventually I lay there, sprawled out on my back, watching the glow of the morning light seeping out from the edges of my curtains, feeling like giving up on sleeping entirely, throwing  the blankets off and getting up. It was then my thoughts drifted to my memories. I remembered being in Vic Falls in Zimbabwe, and waking up 6am to go walk alongside the Zambezi river with my sister and watch the sun rise there. I remembered how surreal it all was, the enormity of the place, the mist that clung to everything, how beautiful it was. I remembered strolling to the edge whilst keeping back for fear of crocodiles, peering out into the river and wondering what was there, watching me, that I could not see. I remember the heat and the noises of well, Africa. The hum of many insects and more. I remembered sitting down to breakfast with my sister and us being the only ones there, making stupid jokes and laughing too loudly, too much, attracting odd glances from the staff there. It did not matter, in those early hours it was like it was just the two of us and the world belonged only to us.

When I find myself feeling sad, longing for home, longing for escape, my mind turns to my memories. It’s bittersweet.

I had another exam on Thursday. It didn’t go well. Worse than even the last two. I am even more disappointed in myself, and even more frustrated. Why does everything seem to be going wrong? Is this the moment where everything finally falls apart? After all, just how long can someone like me succeed.

Yesterday after lying awake all night I dragged myself out of bed at 8am, to clean up my room before heading to lectures. My dad came in the evening and took me out to supper. I almost got us lost but my dad patiently explained how to use my phones GPS, and the basic art of map reading, and basically took over and got us to the right place. I know, even after being here a year I am still hopelessly unfamiliar with this city. Its embarrassing for me because I know it shows how little I go out, how little I do with my life, and I can’t help but get anxious about my dad disapproving over it, becoming concerned about it. This place I had chosen was thankfully a nice place, not expensive, but nicer than the average student can afford, and so it wasn’t a problem that it was a Friday night in the city, when all the students come out to be as obnoxious as possible. I had been nervous about that too.

We went to eat Malay food, something both of us had never done, and we were both noticeably nervous about the whole affair. I was especially nervous, being the one who asked to go. Thankfully, it turned out to be good. The waitress was sweet, obviously malaysian, and obviously used to dealing with clueless patrons, and talked us through everything. My dad had these savoury pancakes for starters, followed by beef redang, and I had chicken satay followed by a chicken curry. The food was ridiculously delicious, although very hot and spicy, strong flavoured, the after taste lingering for hours afterwards. It was fun sitting there being able to complain to my dad about my exams and finally being able to confess my fears of failure to someone. I was strangely chatty, almost hyper, though and I wonder if I said too much. Even now I am afraid of telling my parents too much. There are things I prefer them not to know, and I wonder if sometimes I let those things slip out. I’m not exactly good at keeping my own secrets. Sometimes there are so many things I want to say, sometimes I just want to be listened to, and so I end up spilling things to all the wrong people.

Afterwards we went back to my room and my dad started taking some of my stuff, so that there won’t be as much to bring back when my sister comes to pick me up later. Then we sat and ate ice cream before he had to go. He’s going away on a business trip soon, so I won’t be seeing him for a while now. In the parking lot I waved him off as he was driving and he paused a moment to take my hand, briefly holding on, saying something stupid I can’t remember before letting go. I remember laughing, because those stupid things my dad say always make me laugh, because I can see him teasing me and the affection behind it. No matter how old I get I’ll always be his little girl, and I realised just how much I love my father and how grateful I am for him. I hope he knows that. Before he came I was feeling angry with him for many reasons, old hurts coming to the surface, childish emotions that I somehow can’t seem to shake off. But after seeing him again I feel even more childish for such thoughts, and I’m relieved I did not say anything hurtful to him. At the end of the day my father is just doing the best he can for our family. I know that. I understand. And I won’t let myself get angry over stupid things again.

Those few hours were a relief, a moment to lay my childish anger to rest once more, and many more away from the constant worry over exams. Now, I am back to being stressed and anxious. I have just this one exam to go now. Yet, I just can’t seem to bring myself to work for it.

I’m still longing for home, for escape.

I don’t want to be alone right now. The thought hits me suddenly. But the walls I built to keep people out were very effective.

I closed my eyes and found an answer I hadn’t noticed

This week has been quite hectic. Exams started on Monday, with my first being Mathematics. Boring stuff about exams under the cut

Then on Wednesday I had to go the doctors for three vaccinations. I overslept and was nearly late, of course, but I did make it and I ended up getting them done, two in one arm, and one in the other. It was painful, although the nurse was nice. I have to go back for more doses next week, and two weeks after that. Fun!

After the doctors I grabbed something to eat, and then headed back to halls to pack and get ready to travel home, only to realize I needed money for the bus. Cue me throwing together my stuff, rushing out to the ATM (the closest is 30 mins there and back!), rushing back and throwing the rest of my stuff together before rushing off to catch the bus. Amazingly or the first time ever I didn’t have to run to catch my train, and I was on my train a good ten minutes before departure. Of course, I was badly packed, and I had left behind my laundry which sucks as with this glorious weather it would have been nice to be able to hang it outside. The train journey was long, and my arms ached, and I felt ever so slightly nauseous. I was glad when the journey came to an end and I was home.

It was strange being home, at first. Although badly packed, I have most of what I need as I have a lot of stuff still at home. It’s just, popping home sometimes it really feels like I am a visitor. It hit me as I was making lunch yesterday, which was a struggle, as the food available is no longer targeted to me. And yesterday morning there wasn’t any soap in the bathroom for me, and my room doesn’t have all my things. I felt a little unsure of myself yesterday, and as to why I came home. One part was for a quiet place to study as the library is getting busy, but another was because I wanted the comfort of my home. It’s not really my home anymore though?

But although yesterday was strange as I struggled to settle in, today proved to be much better. I attempted some revision, although the warmth is distracting, and then my dad came home and announced that we would be having a braai, which turned out to be chilled out and nice. For the first time I really felt like I was home. I felt settled and relaxed. And I am looking forward to taking a break from revision tomorrow, to make milk tart and then to spend my afternoon lying in the garden reading and sunning myself. It’s quite nice being back I suppose and I am dreading having to go back to uni because it means having to face that fact that I still have two more exams! After my first two awful exams I am quite ready to be done with this semester. Mathematics and Electrical Engineering exams were the ones I felt fairly confident about, compared to Electronic Engineering and Fields which I really really really struggle with. I also haven’t even started revising for Fields, which doesn’t help matters.

It took all my willpower not to use even more exlcamation marks in this post than I already have. I am a wierd mixture of feeling lazy and relaxed, and totally stressed right now!

Hey, cheer up, cheer up, be brave. Show me your eyes and start running…This world is yours, it’s all yours.

It’s Friday, and you have no idea how glad I am for that. It’s been a long- too long– week. I packed up over the weekend and headed back to university on Sunday- moving into halls for the last time. My room is as its ever been, with its mould and the suspicious stains and a heater that doesn’t work.  After unpacking my stuff my dad took me out to dinner, and we had pizza followed by desert. I ate half my pizza and had the rest for take away, and similarly I ate half my desert and then slipped it into the cardboard box when the waiters weren’t around and made very sure not to disturb it. It was  nice to spend some time with my dad after an entire holiday competing with my sister and my mothers attention. It’s amusing, too, how similar I am to my dad. Everyone always tell me that I look like my dad, that I have this or that personality trait from my dad.  Sometimes I don’t see it, but sometimes there are moments when  I can’t help but notice it.  We were sitting there looking at the menus for a good five minutes, both of us so indecisive that we could neither of us decide whether we wanted a starter and a main course, or a main course and desert. Little things like this, that we  both stop and think about far too much. We are both indecisive, yes. Both of deep thinkers, very private and introverted, both of us engineers. If only I could have my dads ridiculously high level of  intelligence, too.

Anyway, On Monday lectures started again, bright and early at 9am and it was back to the same old same old once more. This week has been a busy one though, with deadlines and other such things.

On Wednesday I experienced my first ever interview. I don’t want to say for what. I was really nervous about it. I had some trouble finding something to wear, and when I sat down to prep for it the information on the net about interviews was overwhelming, and so I’m fairly sure I wasn’t prepared. I had no idea what they were going to ask. Tuesday night, from midnight to 1am I was sat there, edging closer to just putting my head in my hands and crying, as I realised the extent that I had no idea what I was doing. I felt overwhelmed and confused and totally out of my element. The next day I could barely focus in labs,  from a lovely combination of lack of sleep and nerves. I came back to my room to get changed and for last minute prep and found I was running late, but I made it on time. The interview went badly, no worse than I expected, but it remained a fact that I came out there knowing I had failed. I rambled, said too much, said too little, said the wrong things. I fidgeted too, but I only became aware of how much afterwards (it was awful looking back and realising all the things I could have said. Could have done. Could have made it better.) I had to go meet someone to to some work when all I wanted was to go back and wallow in my disappointment in myself. I was confident, and friendly, and I did manage to smile and speak clearly, I think.  If I fucked up, at least I did so confidently and with a smile. They have an option of giving us feedback on our interview, and I think once I get the reply I will email them, and ask them so I can prepare myself better in the future when it isn’t just for something like this, but an actual job, possibly my dream job.

Thursday also tested my nerves. I had my last RTS (real time systems) labs. We have to work in pairs to code a certain system. My partner has been nice, and I’m surprised at how well we ended up working together. There was a bit of awkwardness, but not too much. Of course neither of us are very good at C. He is far better than I, but between us we couldn’t get our system to work. To be fair my board had broken so yesterday was the first time for me to check my code, but nonetheless. We had a beautiful interactive menu system going on, but alas whatever option the user would chose got no more than a blank oscilloscope. And this Thursday was the final lab where they would sit down with us individually and talk about what we have done!  The demonstrator just gave me a perfect O_O look after I explained how it was supposed to work quite neatly to him and then ended with “But it doesn’t work and I don’t know why”. He looked through the code and said it looked like it should work, so I guess it was OK. I wasn’t too nervous about it, more standing outside waiting I got somewhat worried. I’m very glad now that RTS is now done with, and I don’t have to do programming until next year. Well, I should probably practice over the summer because I suck at it, but realistically I wonder if I will do that.

Today I just had the one lecture and then I came home and I have no idea what I’ve been doing all afternoon. Certainly not work. My lecture was cancelled too which has only contributed to my laziness. Tonight I may spend equally uselessly  because I just cannot be bothered with anything more. I’ve barely slept all week, and my diet is all over the place. Just not in a very good place, still. Even as I continue to try to stay positive, it gets increasingly hard.  Therefore to end this long moan, here is a list of five good things about this week:

– Lunch on Monday- left over pizza,  a muffin and I also treated myself to a caramel latte, all of which left me feeling cheerful for the rest of the day.

– My best friends constant support. Her regular text messages have really cheered me up. I’m so grateful to have such a good friend.

-Similarly, talking to my sister after my interview. I am also grateful for her support.

– Laughing with my RTS partner over our failed code. Our lecturer came over to which my partner said that our menu system was working just fine, and I added on, slightly under my breath but meant to be heard, “but nothing else.” The lecturer just smiled, in a way one could tell it wasn’t his first time hearing things like that.

– Noticing that one of my plants has flowered. Usually I am the complete opposite of green fingered, but I have actually managed not to kill my three plants, and now they are flourishing. Which is a good thing , as all three were presents and I don’t want to have to tell anyone that I killed what they gave me!