Budding Hope

February 28, 2011

Budding Hope

There was sun before the rain, yesterday. For a moment I thought the rain would sweep me away. Then came the night. This morning it was bitterly cold. A cherry tree blushed into bloom. I think spring is to come, and hope is in bud. I breathe on it at times, to keep it warm. I’m waiting. Waiting still.

An Evening in St.James

February 27, 2010

Spiral Staircase
Picture by Martin Haesemeyer

She could not remember what she had been thinking, months previously. Why had she bought the ticket for the formal dinner at the prestigious club? What should she–socially awkward little girl–do in such a place? She must have had some reason–but for the moment it was lost to her.

Pacing throughout her little house, she was pulling her hair, wondering what she should do. Too much had been invested already for the horn of defeat to be blown. She had no option but to attend, as she had intended, all those weeks ago.

A dress was waiting for her in the depths of her closet, a dress bought for that very purpose. It would be a pity to disappoint it, that grey, formal little thing that suited her so well. So she put it on.

She tamed her eccentric, long hair and twirled it in two braids to form a compact bun, the weight held in place with what seemed a thousand pins. A white flower of silk was planted next to the secured wheat hair, and she allowed pearls to flow around her neck and droop off the lobes of her ears.

Indeed, she was beautiful, especially with both sooted and powdered eyes. Still, her lower lip trembled with fear. Biting it–knowing fear is best conquered when challenged–she draped a beige and pink coat over her shoulders. She looked a bit like her grandmother had done when her age. She liked it, always having found her grandmother in possession of an aura of self-assured elegance.

The sun was setting when she stepped outside, the clouds having been whisked to form strawberry meringue upon the powder-blue sky. The heels of her shoes tip-tapped the ground as she walked, feeling heads turn as she passed.

Two hours later she stood outside the elegant, albeit majestically menacing door. Her name on the guest list would grant her entry; this evening she belonged inside. Yet, her heart raced in her chest. She was frightened, pacing the street up and down, and back and forth, attempting to calm her terrified nerves.

She had done this to herself to learn what was painful not to know. Social ineptness knew only one cure: staring fear in the eye.

So, she entered. Her name granted her entry, acknowledged with a bow. Her coat was hung among others, and she entered the room.

She was taller than everyone, towering above them like a giant lost. What was worse, however, were the evening gowns that swept across the floor. Her heart sank in her chest as she looked down on her own, much less conspicuous as she had feared a gown would be overdress.

A few familiar faces welcomed her, and introduced yet more. For a moment things were going fine with conversation and introductions–until she ran out of words. She blushed, feeling insignificant yet again, disappearing into a corner from which she was pulled so the charade could start anew.

Entering the dining room she found people were missing from her table. It worried her. But it was the last of her concerns.

But things changed when the person next to her turned out to be the friend of a childhood friend, and so, with something in common, they spoke for most of the meal.

The dinner itself was enjoyable. Despite the price it was not up to the standards she knew from home, but far better than anything she would have served her solitary self–had she decided not to go.

A salad for appetiser, chicken with mushrooms for the main course, and panna cotta for pudding. She had never had the latter before but she enjoyed it. Over the course of that evening, she had grown ignorant of the intimidating nature of novelty. She did not like the coffee however, despite telling herself having a cup would be sophisticated. She found some things cannot be forced; which she knew, but desired to change.

She ended up talking with people for two more hours, being proud of herself during the course of the conversations, reproaching herself when swirling across the room, not daring to approach anyone. A kind person took her under their wing, helping her along. She was most grateful, finding she was straining herself to do what came so easily to others.

It was delightful to talk, and for once, she felt that she had something in common with her partners of conversation. What was more, she felt that she belonged.

As the evening–for her part–neared its end, she was given the card of someone who desired to see her again. She accepted it, not because she intended to, but because it was a token of acceptance she would treasure.

She bade them farewell, and was escorted down the stairs by the arm of a young gentleman. She was even kissed adieu on the cheek, blushing after she had disappeared into the darkness before the clock had struck midnight.

Although she was Cinderella, with a last train to catch, she had failed to forget her shoe. That was for another evening–when, she did not know. This, had only been the beginning.

As the tip-tapped home anew, amidst the silence and darkness that reigned during the young hours of the country night, the moon was translucent upon veiled skies. She smiled at its awe: she had actually enjoyed the evening she had not been certain she even wished to attend.

Having partially conquered her fears, she had proven she could do more than she had believed. She had grown stronger the evening–that evening in St. James.

Growing a Story

February 21, 2010

Maple in Bloom

Once upon a time, the date since lost, a whisper crossed her path, so faint it was barely more than a tentative suggestion. It happened every once in a while–that an idea breathed into existence–but very few managed to plant their seeds and take root in her mind. This particular story, and a few before it, however thrived in her thoughts–what set them apart from all others impossible to say.

That seed which had been planted would be well-cared for, as its progress from insignificance to greenery was delightful. With both love and care it was encouraged to shoot into the air, and to grow greener as its first leaves sprouted. She watered it with imagination and talked to it about notions. It thrived from the attention.

But mind as matter sometimes tires of offering nourishing soil for memetic creatures to grow, and at times the little story was all but forgotten; looming in the murkiness, awaiting the time when the sun would part the clouds anew. It always did, was patience only a celebrated virtue.

She did as well as she could when it came to caring for the sprout that grew from the seed that coloured her mind, and it accompanied her everywhere, as if it was a creature she led around the world on a leash. It sat next to her on the train, and skittered by her feet when she walked. It perched on her shoulder, beneath the umbrella when rain was shed from silver skies, and it basked in the sun when it smiled, wrapped in her long hair.

Though she never understood it wholly–no matter how much she tried–the tale was her best friend and constant companion. Though she doubted its future more than she should, she never the less believed in it; hoping others one day would treasure its mature glory as much as she had enjoyed its inquisitive youth.

So she kept watering it with her thoughts, and nurturing it with her notions. One day (she knew it was so) the story would grow a bud–the first sign that it soon would be finished. With more care than ever before invested in it, it would thereafter grow the most delightful flower; each petal a page upon which its contents had been written.

It was the dream of seeing the flower, and to understand its nature, that encouraged her to continue wasting her love on the creature-tale. That, as well as seeing what seeds the resulting fruit would sow to start the process anew–in a far future. For, the sufferings of a writer are always a delight in hindsight.

First Impressions

January 4, 2010

University College London
University College London

A post on first impressions should probably be made with the impressions still fresh in one’s mind, but as first impressions can be misleading — sometimes to the point of embarrassment, I believed it wise to postpone such a post before I knew whether my first impression of the United Kingdom was accurate or not.

My first impression, and the one that also made the most difference, was that the United Kingdom seemed more sophisticated than my native country, in the sense that it knows how to differentiate between what is important and valuable, and what is not.

Having entered my current university’s grounds for the first time I knew I would like the university, as I value history and traditions. I am also foolish enough to believe that first impressions last a lifetime, something the British seem to appreciate as they always are keen to appear at an advantage, something which the Swedes frequently overlook.

My first impression condenses down to that it provided me with a feeling of that I finally had come home, following a native allocation to Sweden lasting a double decade. I realised this upon replacing Stockholm University with University College London in September– several similar realisations having followed since.

Stockholm University
Stockholm University

2009 is Finally History

January 2, 2010

Big Ben of London

Although I started 2009 with blogging quite frequently, my posts grew fewer and farther apart for each passing month until they completely ceased. This was not really what I had intended would happen, but life can be quite unpredictable–as I am certain most understand.

Last year was quite a milestone for me, with both ups and down–2009 offered me both the best and worst experiences of my life this far!

The year started with my application for undergraduate study being rejected by the University of Cambridge, but once the initial blow had subsided, I realised that it was all for the best as I therefore would go to London.

Having struggled through spring and summer half-heartedly and battling severe melancholia, I then went to London.

I was enamoured by the city from the very first moment. People warned me that it was all consistent with the honeymoon-syndrome and that reality soon would catch up with me. It never did, much to my surprise. My infatuation was instead replaced with a deep affection for the country.

This made me realise that I had been right all along believing that an allocation would do me much good, and I intend to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely. It is all I ever wished for it to be, only better. If I only escape isolation and find happiness, I cannot wish for anything more.

The allocation did however also have its downsides.

The first year of the course which I studied mostly consists of subjects I believed I had left in the past, and to study chemistry and thermodynamics has done me little good. Hopefully those subjects shall not bother me for a few months now–not until the exams are to be written.

Housing in London is also deplorable. My folly knew no limits when I believed that the standards would be the same in Stockholm and London alike. I only laugh now, having learnt the extent of my mistake the hard way as I went from staying with friends to being homeless, navigating between hotels a few days at a time.

I shall never forget how I pulled two heavy suitcases across the streets of London one very late evening, my body wishing nothing more than to collapse, my mind however musing that I had hit rock bottom and only could go up from there. It was true.

I am now a week away from moving to a town outside London, and I am certain it shall prove delightful as the apartment is all a student on a budget could ever wish for, making the distance to the university well-worth the long commute.

I have great hopes for 2010, and I hope that it also shall allow me to return to the world of blogging, one short post at a time.

Two Choices Became One

April 3, 2009

River Cam

Half a year ago I submitted a university application which I had spent many summer weeks writing and perfecting. I had the most glorious of plans; I was only going to apply to only one university; the highest ranked university on the continent where I happen to reside.

People warned me and told me that it would not be wise, that things never turn out the way in which one expects them to, that I should use all the five choices which I were given. But I refused. I knew I was going to be admitted to the university most people can only dream of ever attending; because I was the best.

Two months after my application had been submitted I visited the university to attend an interview. It did not go well – it was nothing like I had expected it to be. The mock interviews had cemented a stubborn belief in my own superiority over everyone else; to be interviewed by professors employed by the continent’s finest university would be a piece of cake!

I was wrong, so wrong.

I returned home worried, hoping I had read the situation the wrong way, that the professors’ face-palming gestures were because they were tired at the end of a long day – not because I was a Swede born yesterday. A month thereafter reality befell me as I learnt that my application had been unsuccessful.

And I thanked my lucky stars for having made sure people warned me, that such belief in oneself would be unwise; I thanked the people who had warned me for being foolish; I thanked myself for having used my five choices.

My first choice was unsuccessful and the fifth choice I withdrew (though I am certain I would have been successful). My third choice made me an offer and like-wisely did my fourth. My second choice of university I did not hear from until today: unfortunately, my application was unsuccessful.

A sting of regret passed through my body upon learning that I had been rejected once more, I am however surprised to realise that I now am only a little numb, seated here in front of my computer monitor, telling the world of my failure. When my first choice rejected my application, I cried and regretted my stubborn pride for days. These two feelings are different.

I had two choices (three really, but only two I considered) and now the two have gone down to one. The rejection hurt me – this I cannot deny – and yet I am in no pain. It is because I had two choices, two choices which have gone down to one.

To decide upon two matters similar, yet different, is a task impossible for someone as undecided as myself. Should I choose the finer of the two universities I wished to attend, though its course was longer and a little less in my taste? Or, should I choose the other university; less well-recommended, but with a shorter course which appealed to me more? The choice may seem a simple one to make, but for me it was not; I wanted them both.

When I learnt that the finer of the two rejected me, I felt tears burn behind the lids of my eyes. But I wiped them away, attempting to see the matter from its brightest side, and I succeeded. The tears were blinked back – for now my dilemma has been solved.

Half a year ago I submitted an application to five universities overseas. I thought four of my choices unnecessary; there was no way I would ever fail. And yet I did – which I never would have believed had I told myself before the fact. Yet, I cannot help but smile deep within, though I of course still am a little bit disappointed in myself.

I cannot help but smile because my choices have gone down to one; the choice I had to make is to be made no more. It was made for me, and everything turned out for the best. For, truth being said, though I applied to the most sophisticated university on the continent – the university of prime ministers and kings – I would not have been happy there. Where I am going now I believe I will be happy – though I would never have believed my own words did I tell my own self six months back.

Life is a marvellous experience, and it is during bitter-sweet days such as this that I realise that every disappointment has a gilded edge; it is only a matter of noticing it.

The First Day of Spring

April 1, 2009

Golden Tussilago

The first day of spring is a magnificent day; the day the world so eagerly awaits; the sole reason for why winter is painfully endured. It is the day when one realises winter is as far away as it can possibly be, all because spring finally has won the epic battle of the elements: spring – with its freshly melodious name – is the season victorious and a time of plenty is about to begin.

The first day of spring is a very special day, and fact is that it only occurs once every year. Commonly, it arrives most unexpectedly – one day being winter, the following spring – and does one blink, one risks to be blind to its brief moment of glory, destined to for an entire year regret now having paid attention to such an important shift of power. For, it is one thing to be there when a change comes about, and wholly another to be present whilst the rewards are reaped.

This year I was almost premature in welcoming spring and I was very close to celebrating the wrong day. So eager were I to greet my favourite season that I almost missed it. Yesterday was a windy day and though the breezes played with my hair, my ears were spared – bare, but not nibbled upon, exposed, but not turned red by the cold. The sun shone and the breezes were smooth upon my face; warmed by the sun which shone from a blue sky. I believed that to be a sign that the first day of spring had arrived, and I wished to tell the world.

I sat down with a pen in my hand – papers before me – eager to make a delighted note mentioning that the miracle of spring had come to grace the lands anew for the first time this year; that spring had come to stay. But I did not, for it did not feel right. Something, deep within told me that to do such a thing would be to do a thing rushed. And so I did not.

I am glad I did not speak before the time had come.

Today, when I walked upon brown fields scarred by the rage of winter’s snow and cast a long shadow due to the sun yet having to rise it highest in the skies, I realised that the first day of spring had arrived. Its arrival did not occur yesterday, nor would it tomorrow, for today was the first day of spring; today was the day I had awaited for so long.

Kneeling in the withered grass I removed the gloves I had used to shield my hands from the winds. Though the sun gilded my hair the winds were cool – not nibbling on my ears – numbing my fingers. That it was rosy appendages I used to pick the gold did however not matter; I found that the reddish hue enriched the yellow, making the small flower now in my hand glow yet more strongly; it was a shard of the sun and spring itself which had fallen from the skies and landed in the winter-brown grass; the first coltsfoot of the year was the whisper I had remained silent to hear: “The first day of spring has arrived.”

Like a young child I skittered home over the fields, the weights winter had placed upon my shoulders had been blown away by the faint breath that vocalised the whisper; the first day of spring had arrived and it had to celebrated. And so the coltsfoot, the smiling flower face in the shape of the sun, was gently placed in a small glass; the golden rim a symbol of the tribute I pay spring every year.

It is time to remove the cloaks which have shielded our faces and painted our eyes grey. It is time to breathe once more, time to smile and time to live, for spring is here and winter is at its farthest away:

The first day of spring has finally arrived!

A Stale Fresh Start

March 23, 2009

Ceramic Zoology

Everything has a beginning. Today was the first day of the new week, and it also happened to be the first day of my spring term. Of course, I realise this as well as everyone else, that the spring term is well underway. So, how come that today is my first day, and not one of the anonymous days bound to end up in the middle of a semester?

Before every beginning there is also an end, and so the reason for today being a fresh start is because I terminated the studies I previously pursued. There is a saying that goes along the lines of: “Once is nothing, twice is tradition”, and after two years I have found that terminating courses of higher studies is a tradition of mine.

For someone who is determined to one day be as sophisticated as she imagines herself being, such a tradition is of course subject to nothing but her own ridicule. But I reason as such, that as long as I am aware of what I do wrong I may continue, for knowing and not knowing is what makes all the difference. And that is the way in which I excuse myself for having failed to attain a degree for the second time in as many years.

The new course which I now have commenced studying will not taunt me with a degree mocking me from three years into the future, and I am glad. Three years is after all quite an unfathomable length of time! (At least for someone who is as fond of immediate accomplishments as am I.) No, this new course will award me no degree and I hope that this will be the motivating which I seek; perhaps without the promise of a degree I will be able to properly finish something for the first time in many years!

I am however sensing that problems do not lay far ahead and I can see the clouds of boredom looming above a rather mundane horizon.

Entrance

Fresh starts are energising, and with a smile on my face I took place in the lecture hall this morning, eagerly anticipating the start of a new course. The Diversity and Phylogeny of Organisms has such a nice ring to the ears of a person intrigued by biology, does it not?

Sadly, ten minutes into the introductory lecture I was struggling to remain awake. That I barely managed to close my eyes to get a few well-earned hours of sleep the night before was an unimportant reason to employ in an attempt to explain my fatigue; ten minutes was all that was needed to turn a fresh start stale. For, I realised that the level of education on offer had not changed despite the change of course I had put so much hope for improvement into.

My reason for having failed to yet attain a degree stems from nothing but contempt for the elementary. Since my youngest years zoology has intrigued and fascinated me, a fondness many years later having rendered me quite knowledgeable–even in matters well beyond the realm of biology. I desire for nothing more than to be granted access to the next level of education, a world from which I am banned before I have earned a degree with which to prove my worth.

But how? I ask, how will I ever be able to attain the proof which I require when even the freshest of starts is stale before it has even begun? That is a question which troubles the wise, and before it has been answered I will continue to find education one of the evils of the world. For, when studying physics the geniuses find me as unwanted a liability as I find them within my field of interest.

Everyone is different and homogeneity creates nothing but forgotten geniuses such as I.

But I shall not pass judgements this early on. I shall return tomorrow with a new smile and remember the toast I ill have for breakfast; the toast that when broken in half will remind me of that freshness lies dormant below even the stalest of crusts.

77 365 It's beginning to feel a bit like Spring...

All newborn blogs are in desperate need of a first post; the few lines contained within it a gust of fresh air which revitalise this youngest branch of the digital space we all know, and love, as the Internet. These few lines, and the words which compose them, will say nothing in the case of this blog as I–the author of hopefully many future posts–am simply reaching out my hands in friendship in an attempt to get to know this blog.

I have an idea which has rummaged through my mind for a few weeks now, and today was the day when I decided that it had matured enough to be able to with grace manage to take the step from being a whisper in my ear to become something palpable (at least in a metaphorical sense).

I wish to use this space to make a difference–no matter how small it may be–in order to make full use of each day, as I have found that the days are all too prone to disappearing before one has been given the opportunity to cease them. This blog is therefore a web in which my chances of making full use of the hours which fly past me hopefully will be more easily trapped.

I spend my days doing a little bit of everything, and I feel that at least a portion of my experiences and ideas may be worth sharing with the world. Does the world not wish to take part, I will not mind, but the notion of that one of my posts of ponder and projects may be able to inspire at least one person is what will motivate me to make use of the pixels and digital space whih I now have created for myself to occupy.