Reunions to remember…

I am a sentimental kind of gal. Today, I have a few things to talk to you about in relation to reunions and anniversaries. I think it is important that we mentally mark these kinds of dates in our mind… and/or physically celebrate them. It is life and special things happen and we decide what to celebrate.

This weekend, I had a Uni Reunion. It had been 6 years since we had left Uni and 3 years since our last reunion! We always say we won’t leave it as long next time. But you know how it is – life gets in the way and before you know it, time has zoomed by and the 5 minutes since you were last swigging beer at the pub, turns into 3 long years!

It was great to see the gang. But these 3 years seemed to have been a vital 3 years of change, in the road that is life. I had the fridge stocked with wine and beer for the midday arrival of the gang and was greeted with responses to drink orders of, ‘Oooh can I have a cuppa tea?’ or ‘An orange juice would be nice.’ The wildest member of the gang, who spent 3 years drowning in alcohol at Uni, now doesn’t drink much,  has a fiancée and a baby on the way!  Funny how things change. But it was nice in a way that we all got on so well sober (this may be the first time we had tried this!) and we are still friends in our modern lives.

My Uni friends come from all over: one from France; one from Doncaster (now living in Leeds); one from London (now lives in Northampton); one from Milton Keynes; one from Reading  – so you can imagine the lovely recipe of accents that emerge when we are together!  Naturally, when English students get together (well most of us are – one did Construction and one did Media), we played Scrabble! Again, wild times! 😉 I, embarrassingly, came 4th – and with 2 non-English specialists and one with English as her second language, I think that is pretty appalling! Haha!

The night led to cheap and cheerful drinks and food; karaoke; dancing and more drinking! So just like the Uni days! It was great and music always helps to remember things I think. One song and you are transported back to that crazy, student night 7 years ago.

So yes, we all had a great time and even had a pub breakfast to cure the morning after feeling – the change was this time, that I actually had to do jobs and chores after, rather than lie in my lazy student bed, putting off that Shakespeare essay until tomorrow!

It is also, almost, the end of term, and I have seen many speeches today of people leaving and retiring. They were all reflecting on the last year, last ten years or last 30 years. It is emotional to move on to the next step, I think. Which is important, we revisit  when we can. This can be literally by returning to the place; meeting the people we were with; or just, simply talking about the memories we have from that place.

Lastly, a year ago today, I started writing this blog! A whole year! I started off writing a post a day, which was easy because I was off work. Now I like to write weekly where possible and I am still enjoying writing about the randomness of my life and life in general. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank anybody who has read this blog; whether one post; lots of posts; part of a post. In addition to people who have liked a post, commented, followed or recommended it to anyone. These things are great for a writer to see – but I also know there are a lot of secret readers out there, who take a gander and then go. It all counts and it is very exciting that I am writing words – stringing them together and someone is reading what spills out of my head!  So thank you. I will keep writing! And hopefully, you will keep reading 😉

Celebrate today – it may be a year since you quit smoking. A month since you went on a great evening out. A year since you saw a family member. Ten years since you left a job. Twenty years since you left school. Get in touch with people, relive a memory, get the photo albums out (we also did this at the weekend!) and enjoy a reunion – even if it is just you and a memory! 🙂

XSXS

Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.

This was the Daily Prompt for blogging today. Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you. Mmmm…. I couldn’t resist as the thing  I was thinking about earlier, I was considering writing about anyway.

I once had an internet relationship. It seems like a lifetime ago really and it was when I was in my late teens and quite naïve. My main relationships with the internet now are this blog, my love for eBay and amazon, and my hatred for when the internet crashes.

But no, I actually met someone online and then went on to meet them offline, after talking for a year. The whole thing seems so surreal now and like I’m talking about someone else. I started talking to this lad through MSN chat. You remember that? I used to think long and hard about my username and font colour – depending on my mood (my friends and I spent many an evening having ‘groupy’ chats, which sounds so wrong now but was so cool that we could all chat at once!) Anyway, I’m not sure how this lad ended up adding me but we started chatting. Just friendly banter, after the initial A/S/L question (Age sex location for those who didn’t use the internet in the early 2ooos!)

It was great to talk to someone online, whom I didn’t know. We chatted about everything and anything. He was funny and loved to chat like me! I hadn’t really found a man who seemed to love ‘chatting’ up to now and it was exhilarating!

It became a bit of a routine to chat every night, but a good one. It was like having a relationship but just in the early evening. At this point in time, I had started University so this fitted in perfectly. Lectures in the day, online ‘boyfriend’ in the evening and then either going out or sleeping at night. It became quite intense to be honest, like a drug. I had not met this person but I felt very attached and thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. Before, you say, it wasn’t an old, creepy man – because he used to put a webcam on so I could see him. No, I am not talking about anything untoward here – it was all perfectly and innocent and he only showed me himself on webcam as a way to prove who he was, I guess. I’m not telling you this to admit something sordid and sexual. I am telling you because I think it is interesting how human nature can form relationships without physically meeting.

We spoke on the net for a year, eventually exchanging mobile numbers. We used to text and chat on the phone then too. It was very thrilling to receive the said texts and phone calls. A stranger but someone whom I felt I knew well.

We had both broken up with partners, which was I think was why we became close. We decided to meet in the flesh. Scary though. No screen of separation. No coming up with witty online and text replies; it would all be real-life and real instant chatting.

He was local so I went to meet him in a shopping centre. I was safe and took my sister and her friends with me. We had a nice day. It was ‘nice’ and not really a lot more to be honest. We got on and I was attracted to him, yes. But it was far more exciting when it was all online and after that nothing more came of it. He got a new partner and I got with my current boyfriend. No more chats and that was it.

I don’t regret it at all. It was a fascinating experience – like a whirl wind, cyber love. That of course, I now realise was no form of love whatsoever. But simply internet banter and someone at the end of a screen to read, listen and type comforting and confidence building comments back. Something we both needed at that particular point in our lives. And something that I will never forget.

 

I invite you to do the same and tell us something that not many people know about you………….. 😉

N.B I am not advising or promoting teenagers to go and meet people they have met on the internet. I was 19 and had a good head on my shoulders. I spoke to this guy for over a year and, as I said, I managed to get proof of who he really was. If you are going to take the step to meet someone like this, then do what I did and meet them in a public place and take people with you.

XSXS

To my 47-year-old self…..

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The other writing prompt from yesterday’s daily post was to write to yourself in twenty years time. Since I am 27 next week, I chose to write to my 47 year old self. See what you think:

To my 47 year old self,

Well done fort] making it to this age! Yesterday, I spoke to our 14-year-old self. She’s doing okay; she will get there. Not as clued up about life as we are! I said to her yesterday that my scary age is 30 at my current age of (very nearly) 27! I guess you are dreading the half-a-century one now…. sorry to put it like that! I guess turning 30 wasn’t so bad for you and I hope you had the big, drunken party to celebrate it that I am currently mentally planning for 3 years’ time!

So… do I have children at the age of 47? I imagine I do, I hope so. I know I said that by 27, I nowhere near felt emotionally ready for them but I hope by 47 I have grown-up a bit in order to do this! So a boy? Girl? One of each? I don’t think I could handle more than two, but I guess you’re the expert of what we are actually capable of! One of the things I look forward to the most about having children is passing on parts of you to them. When you realise they have the same annoying habits that you have or when you realise that they, too, cry at silly things or if they love the same book as you. Has any of that happened yet? I also look forward to sharing old photos, diaries, books, films and getting them to like them too! Having children, to me, is about creating another version of yourself and passing part of you onto them. I bet you are now thinking that when it happens, you barely have time to go to the toilet, yet alone think about any of that! Maybe also, you had to adopt? That happens a lot and I don’t want to make you feel sad if that is what has happened. I will handle it if they aren’t genetically mine. I am always saying the world’s overpopulated after all! I just hope you happy with however that all worked out.

Are you married? I could understand either way. Part of me can’t see me not getting married, but part of me is in no rush either. I also don’t see how it would change much either. Except, I guess it is nice to have one family name and be joined in that way. Fill me in on all the gossip anyway and if it did happen, what was the day like? I can never see myself having a fancy do but in a lot of ways I want it to be big, just because I would want everybody that I care about there. It may be the only time in my life where everyone I love is under one roof. So please tell me that happened… or maybe at that crazy 30th birthday party?!

It is more difficult to talk to you than it is the 14-year-old self because you know everything about me. I can’t tell you anything! Do you remember what it feels like to be 27? I hope so…. if not I can remind you I guess! I feel very happy and like my life is getting sorted in most areas now. I feel silly and fun a lot, but mature and responsible when I need to be. Tell me, I have never lost that.

I hope at 47 you are still having a good career…. did I ever do the teaching qualification? That is something I always toy with now. Maybe you can give me advice of how that could turn out! I hope you are happy in terms of marriage (or not) and kids (or not) and generally with decisions you have made! I also hope you have kept a lot of the same friends, since I did such a good job at 27 of keeping in contact with school friends and work mates as I moved from job to job. And I also hope you still have good relations with your family and see them often. The family may have grown in terms of children but I’m guessing that certain older members aren’t around anymore. Did that make the family closer? I hope everyone handled that okay.

Anyway, since I can’t tell you about my life, I await to hear the answers to my questions in twenty years time. I hope that those two decades go slowly!

Love from your (almost) 27 year old self. x

P.S I am writing this in a laptop – do you still have them? I imagine technology has moved on a lot!

I will look forward to reading that when I am 47 as it will be like my 27 year old self is writing to me! Really enjoyed writing that but it was a bit trickier than the 14 year old on yesterday because the future is so much more uncertain! I mainly have to ask questions! And part of me doesn’t want to jinx it because what if I am not meant to live til 47? Fingers crossed….

Enjoy…

XSXS

To my 14-year-old self….

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Today I was inspired by the Daily Post: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/ and I chose to write a letter to my 14 year old self… see below:

To my 14-year-old self,

I know you now prefer to be called Sam and not ‘Samantha’ because the full name seems too formal – this doesn’t change and you will be called Sam well into your adult life. Maybe ‘Samantha’ when you are naughty! It was funny when your five-year-old self got very annoyed at people shortening your name ‘My name is Samantha, not Sam!’ We all learn don’t we?

I know all you can think about at the minute is getting a boyfriend and hanging out with friends.  You realise into your twenties that there is always something that you will be striving for and working towards. That is life. By the age of 27, the good news is that, you have most things sorted – a relationship, a great circle (or many circles!) of friends, a family you see frequently, and have good relationships with (well most of them!) and a job you are happy with. You also own a house with your boyfriend. But you will be striving to get your writing career off the ground, writing books, stories, poems, blogs etc. You were never ambitious at school and just wanted to get the grades you needed for the next step. Never really knew what you wanted to do! You manage this and go onto sixth form – where funnily enough you will end up working at that school when you are 23! Your lack of driven ambition doesn’t really change either…. as long as you are happy doing what you are doing you just swim along nicely – not a bad way to live your life I suppose. This is probably why you haven’t done more to get your writing out there yet. You realise too, though, that work/life balance is something that is very important to you and something you will always ensures happens.

My advice to you as the 14 year old me is to not worry so much. You seem to be going through a teenage depression phase at the minute. This won’t last too long and you will soon realise that you can be happy and confident and get hold of this life thing! Do not be concerned with what people think of you – you will never be short of friends. The ones who do think badly of you don’t matter anyway. You will probably buy CDs because your mates have; fancy singers because other people do and you will probably go drinking on a Friday night with the ‘cool’ people because you want to fit in. You need to do this. You will then realise years later that you are one of the ‘cool’ people after all. You are liked by a lot of people and making the effort to stay in touch with people from your past will pay off. The Granville ten year school reunion will be amazing and you will never feel so happy and confident. You will realise how far you have come and how happy with your life you are. Oh and don’t worry about the whole boyfriend thing yet – you won’t get one until you are 17 anyway! So just enjoy flirting with boys and chatting to your friends about them!

You have always been a home gal and that won’t change really either. You love nothing more than a day or night in at your own house. Buying things for it and attempting to decorate! But your love of home could be a problem earlier on: the university years. You will spend most of your first year yearning for home and not enjoying the experience! So from my experience try not to. Try not to go home every weekend – you will probably settle in easier and save money too. Make the most of it because otherwise you will find you are finally enjoying the lifestyle and then you have to come home for four months anyway! Oh and in your summer job, don’t fall asleep on the job and get fired! Just a tip…

Keep working hard at school – put your heart and soul into English. This is the subject you will focus on, be the best at, and will end up making a career out of. Also try and start writing some poetry now because you will make life for the 26-year-old me much easier! On another note though, try hard with Maths and Science still. I know, I know, you only want a C and you hate the subjects. But they are still important and you will realise this when you are trying to add up bills etc and help kids at school in these subjects!

You won’t realise what line of work you want to do until you are 23. This is okay and you will have fun working in different environments and with different people. If a job comes up at a certain pet shop, though, don’t take it! Or, I guess, we can’t control the path of life so you probably will take it. But try and stand up for yourself more and quit on the night of the staff meeting where you are publically demoted and humiliated. (Don’t wait a month after this like I did). This may help you get over it more quickly because as you near 27 you are only just starting to get over the horrible experience now!

You will pass your driving test when you are 23. This is a painful experience for all concerned. Two years worth of lessons, four instructors and five tests later you will pass!! My advice would be to chill out a bit and go out practising more…. oh and start your lessons a little earlier! We never have been very practically and logically minded have we? But as I say, you do it eventually! Don’t give up!

I wish you had kept a diary when you were 14. You do from the age of 16 to 21 and they are fascinating reads now! I remember how you feel at 14 though. As I said earlier, this isn’t your happiest time and you are just coming into yourself. Remember when you were 11 and that boy fancied you? You thought to yourself, ‘oh I am too young… why can’t this have happened when I was 14?’ you thought you would be so much more grown-up at 14. I bet now you are thinking how mature you will feel at 27… Well I don’t! I still feel too selfish and immature to have children myself…. so we will see when the 35 year old self writes to you! My scary age is 30 at the minute. And I bet for you it is 18! Adult age…. but I promise you, you will still feel like a kid for many more years yet. Your 20s are great because you get to the grown-up thing whilst acting like a kid too. That’s why I am dreading my 30s; you can’t get away with as much!

Anyway, it is great that I can speak to you like this. When you are in your early twenties, you will discover a book and film called The Time Traveller’s Wife and it is great. The man in that gets to time travel and talk to his younger or older self. The thing is he can never change the course of history. And I guess I can’t either. You won’t pass your driving test until you are 23, you will take that pet shop job just as you will get fired from the summer job in a factory. You will be homesick at the start of uni. It is all meant to happen but the good news is, it happened, you survived it and learnt from it. And you are happy and secure in the present day.

Love your (almost) 27-year-old self.

P.s – you will still love Spice Girl’s songs when you are 27!

Hope you enjoyed that and I guess you know me better after reading that! It is like writing to another person, I really enjoyed doing it. I recommend you try it too!

XSXS

Not Always Worth it…

Well tonight guys, I am off for a meal with ex-work mates. No, not at my previous school but at Woolworths. I can’t remember if I have mentioned to you that I used to work for them…. right til the end when they went bust. Ever since we have all met up a few times a year for a cavery meal and a few drinks. There may have been a gap when we first left, since we had to wait until everyone had new jobs and could afford it! The meals are actually a family affair for me, as funnily enough, my Mum and sister both worked there when it shut down. My Mum had worked there years and was the one to get me a job after Uni and sister was a Christmas temp (very temp!).

this was the actual branch I worked at… just after we closed. It is now a PoundStretcher!

Working there was interesting. Yes, interesting, that is the best choice of word. At the time, I loved it but when I look back now, I didn’t really know what it meant to have a job you loved. It was awful hours, twelve-hour shifts, evenings, weekends. A lot of physical labour too and you got a lot of crap off the customers. Don’t get me wrong there was some lovely customers too… but they aren’t the ones that you moan about over dinner and a glass of wine that evening or the ones you remember years later. I do, however, remember a certain woman from when we were working through our last days. Stock was shrinking along with out patience and dignity. Customers were vultures and just wanted a bargain.. at any cost. (Never mind the 30,000 people losing jobs!) There was one lady though who donated £20 for us. To buy some buffet food to cheer us up, as it was Christmas and we were losing our jobs. Such a lovely thought and I will never forget that.

I will also never forget the time I found a pooey nappy on my department. I used to run the clothing department. We were only a small store so kid’s clothes was all we did. It was enough. A Mum clearly had to change a kid’s nappy one day and slid the nappy under one of my shelfs. Not at item I would want to sell! disgusting! And it is the likes of this that you get when you work with the public! I had to get a plastic bag and fish it out. Yul. I was definitely not on enough money for that! Occasionally too, I mopped up wee (but I told myself it was apple juice as I did it!) and one morning when I opened up (I used to run the store on Sundays) and some of the ceiling had caved in and bits of mushy ceiling were all on the floor. Dear me. We had to open a little later that day.

There are hundreds more stories from my short 1 and a half years there. I’ll share some more with you another time. Just one more though because this is really funny. I actually though of this the other day because, at school, we were on about people and pupils in particular who tend to have intelligence OR common sense but not both. As I said, I used to be in charge on Sundays, meaning I used to be in charge of quite a lot of teenagers, who needed a job whilst at sixth form or college. One boy started as a christmas temp and I was told he was extremely clever and got straight As… iI didn’t think he would have any trouble working a till. Turns out we didn’t even get to that hurdle easily. I told him at the beginning of the shift to put a bag in his bin for rubbish. You would know what I mean right? I even gave him the roll of rubbish bags as I said this. He then put the whole roll of bags in the bin! I said ‘no, just one bag in the bin’ meaning to line it. He ripped off one bag and put that in the bin. I think I walked off at this point! No common sense… or any kind of sense at all!

I’m sure, we will relive some of these stories tonight….. hope you enjoyed the insight into life at Woolworths and realise it wasn’t always so ‘worth’ it!

XSXS

Age is a Growing Number

People say that age is ‘just a number’. Which I guess it is. Especially when it comes to people who you are friends with (age doesn’t matter) and when couples have a huge age difference. You may want to do certain things that isn’t normal for your age…. for example this afternoon I am going to use bright coloured poster paints (that are actually called finger paints aimed at toddlers!) and paint some Harry Potter banners for my boyfriend’s sister’s themed birthday party in a few weeks. So yes in that instant as well, my age of ’26’ is just a number!

But it is a growing number… we all get older every day, every year. And until you get into your twenties, I don’t think you really bother about it. And until you get to 18 you worry about it in reverse as in you want to be older so that you can get into clubs and get served for alcohol. So from 19 – 20, it suddenly loses its novelty yo get ID’D and by the time you reach 22-23 sort of age, you want to be ID’D because it shows you look a little younger. I remember, a couple of years ago, I went out for my birthday with my sister and her friends (who are 5 years younger). So I was turning 24 I think and they were all about 19. We queued up to get into a club and all of them were ID’D and I fumbled in my bag for my pink, driving licence to present it proudly to the bouncer. As I did this, he laughed and said he didn’t need to see mine! Gutted. On the odd occasion that I do get ID’D, it is either because the shop assistant is being over cautious with the ‘look under 25 rule’ or I am looking particularly rough without makeup or something. Or both!

Yes, I’m at the stage there where I love being in my twenties and even though I don’t get ID’D much, I can make my peace with that. I feel more self-assured than I did when I was 18 and more self-confident and know more what I want from life. And I still party sometimes like you can see in Down and Dirty with the Teenagers Part 1 and 2 and Not Sloshed enough to Mosh? My main fear in life is turning 30. Something about that one seems so grown up. Twenties to Thirties. You are more likely to be married with kids in your thirties and do all the serious, grown up stuff. Not as many allowances for screw ups! So for my 30th in three years time, I plan to have a party and celebrate the last 30 years whilst getting very drunk. Surely, you are never too old for that? 😉

It is funny how some people are about ages. At school at the minute, there is a competition for the kids to guess the combined age of the English department. There is a mixture of ages so it is quite amusing. Some are shy about the kids knowing their ages. When kids guess ages it’s normally way off anyway… they don’t seem to have any idea. I have had guesses of anything from 18 – 45 (the 45 guess was from a special needs kid, I will add!). I offered for the department to add my ’26’ age in…. as I am partly with the department too so could be in or out…. and said it could help to lower the average 😉

At the beginning of summer, we had our ten year school reunion. That’s when you feel being grown up and a little older, when you have your first school reunion! Ten years since we left, woah. It was a great evening actually. Some of my close friends organised it and I helped out by getting some old photos together. It was a great night to catch up with people and I actually spent a lot of the night talking to people who I never even spoke to at school. Ten years can change people a lot and the shy, geeky kids are all grown up (I was one of them!) and actually willing to socialise with people. I recommend it to others who are considering a reunion!

I also wrote a poem for the occasion actually, take a look:

Ten years since…..

Ten whole years it has been,
Since years at school as a teen,

Since in Maths we saw Chicken Legs dance,
And over her glasses, she did glance,

Since ‘significant’ Lord of the Flies,
Was a ‘bitty’ chapter in our lives,

Since small, white notes were always passed,
As the back turned they flew so fast!

Since Drama was a Jolley time,
Where farting and burping, both a crime,

Since Collier said ‘Oui’ and ‘Nein’,
Oh Howe did we survive this time?

Since some teachers went into a Buckle,
Pea shoots flew as all did chuckle,

Since Peanut came out of her shell,
If we said too much, she did yell,

Since strict sir Sealy ruled P.E,
But on the fields we could be free,

Since Music gave us fun and smiles,
A purple tracksuit you could see for Miles,

Since Lappy had scared us all so,
But Good Head on his shoulders though,

Since Science gave us Bushes and Woods,
Fires and chemicals and sometimes floods,

And Big Man Watts was the guy in charge,
Where no problem, too small or large,

It really has been a whole decade,
But our funny memories will never fade…

There is a lot of mentions of teachers there, which naturally you won’t quite get the humour unless you went to our school. Many people enjoyed my poem to reflect back on the good and bad times…. which ten years later all seem funny. That’s the thing as we all get older, you have memories that you have built up. The older you get, the more you get.

(See my Circle of Life post for some other thoughts on life and age.)

See you tomorrow, all of us a day older 😉

XSXS

Remember that?

How’s your memory? Do you remember my name is Sam? That today is Wednesday? What you had for breakfast yesterday? What you did last night? Then your memory is probably about normal. Did you see that programme last night on Ch 4? About a boy, well man since he was twenty, who could remember everything! Everything!

I think you will agree with me that some things we actually want to forget. So imagine if you could remember everything. I talked a little about this a while ago in my post Photographic Memories. The fact that none of us have a photographic memory and need things like photos to help us remember those happy times. Surely we remember the things that are truly important like births of children, weddings, job promotions, first day at school etc. It seems some people can remember further back than others though. I remember my first day at school as clear as day. Not all of it but bits and it is all linked to feelings. I can remember how I felt. I can’t remember what lessons we did or the people I met (even though I know now who would have been in that class) but I remember chunks. I know people of a similar age to me though who claim to not remember their first day at school though. One man claims he can’t remember anything before he was aged ten. He didn’t have a tortured childhood, which he tried to block out. It was probably quite happy. He just can’t remember.

Then there is short-term memory. This guy on the programme last night could remember the day of any date from years ago. He could remember what he did, who he was with, how he felt. It didn’t say on the programme (yet I only wanted about twenty min) if he had good short-term memory. Was he able to remember his dentist appointment later that day? Or his friend’s birthday next week? Surely that would be more use than remembering you went to Cadbury’s World in 2005? Which was one of the examples on the programme. I was in awe though as he could retrieve so much information and his Mum checked it in her diary when they had disagreements about certain days and dates. Must be useful if you needed to remember for a murder case or some sort of enquiry haha.

My next thought after being utterly amazed was confusion. I mean how does all that information fit into his brain? Where does it all? We let go of the mundane, everyday kind of things that we don’t need to remember, yet he has it all. Maybe he has to sacrifice other things like knowledge? Surely only so much can fit!

So remember what you can and definitely don’t forget to drop by again 😉

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