Oh boy

Man Repeller feels like home. I’m actually annoyed that I’ve been under a rock and therefore without it until recently, but ever since stumbling on it a few months ago I’ve quickly become a groupie. I mean that seriously: it’s not enough for me to simply read their posts. I watch the Youtube videos, the Youtube profiles on Leandra and Amelia, and most recently, I’ve been hooked (by my ‘ZARA WOMAN‘ coat label, and rather comfortably) on its ‘Oh Boy’ podcast.

The whole series is a dream. Admittedly I’m still working through all the episodes (quite quickly, I might add). But listening to the ambitious, funny, talented, smart and generally very likeable guests talk to the host, Jay Buim, about their upbringing and other random (but relevant) musings, is like tucking in to an aural comfort blanket. Jay starts each episode (that I’ve listened to) stating how much he enjoyed talking to such and such in his kitchen. You’d be tempted to employ a thick layer of skepticism to your thinking here, but it’s not merited. The conversation really is that enjoyable. 

And even though he asks the same questions each time, the format of the podcast does not get tired – each interviewee has an interesting story to tell, even if it sounds pretty ordinary. Plus, he’s a great conversationalist – easy going and flows with the tide of his interviewees responses, while adding anecdotes of his own experiences.

My favourite episode so far? It’s difficult to choose between Emily Weiss, Founder of Into The Gloss and Glossier, Leandra Medine, OG Man Repeller, and MR Deputy Editor, Amelia Diamond. But I think the conversation flows best between Buim and Diamond – she sounds so pleasant and has a great rapport with him. I imagine she would be exactly the same in person (…as opposed to in voice). But each story is so inspiring to me especially at this juncture in my life – because they are so relatable. Like when Diamond talks about an interview mishap in which she messed up due to her ‘cockiness’, or when she likens her assisting on the set of a Grace Coddington shoot to something from my favourite film, the Devil Wears Prada (“WE NEED MORE CHAINS!!”).

I also love listening to their ‘connect the dots’ tales of how they reached their current position. Hearing about the mustard seed beginnings of the enviably slick beauty brand Glossier, is like super greens for my ambitious streak. 

10/10, would recommend. Great stuff.

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Thanks, Joan (and Tavi…and Youtube)

On those evenings when I wind deeeper and deeeper into the annals of 2013-14 YouTube videos, I am rarely rewarded. Today, I was pleasantly surprised. After watching one Tavi Gevinson video (my quest started from Casey Neistat’s channel…??), I’d worked my way through quite a few until clicking on this one, in which she mentions Joan Didion’s essay entitled: ‘On Keeping A Notebook’. Naturally, I google this because I love keepin’ me a good ol’ notebook.

Joan Didion

I read through and then reach the bottom of the second-to-last page, and stop, trace my eyes back up a few lines, and re-read. Didion writes:

“I have lost touch with a couple of people I used to be; one of them, a seventeen-year-old, presents little threat, although it would be of some interest to me to know again what it feels like to sit on a river levee drinking vodka-and-orange-juice and listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford and their echoes sing “How High the Moon” on the car radio…

…The other one, a twenty-three-year-old, bothers me more. She was always a good deal of trouble, and I suspect she will reappear when I least want to see her, skirts too long, shy to the point of aggravation, always the injured party, full of recriminations and little hurts and stories I do not want to hear again, at once saddening me and angering me with her vulnerability and ignorance, an apparition all the more insistent for being so long banished.”

This struck me because lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my sixteen-year-old self. About how, even with my feet (almost) to the ground, I lived in my head. I thought deeply and boundlessly. The songs I listened to then, the films I loved, the blogs I followed were like another home. I occasionally throw myself back and listen to, watch and read those things, six years later (mostly because I’m ridiculously sentimental). Yet, like Didion, I sometimes feel that I’ve lost touch with ‘that person I used to be’. But I’m working on reconnecting. In a similar way, she continues:

“It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you.”

I’m pleased with the fact that I still keep a notebook; its details are not so distant that when I read through it, things don’t seem too out of context or tricky to follow. But I don’t want to  get to a place where I can’t remember what the heck I was writing about when I was eighteen. I’ll continue to grow and change, but I don’t want to lose touch with my formative thoughts.

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend 🙂

 

“I Stand With Baltimore”: Solidarity Gathering Outside The US Embassy.

Yesterday, the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence organised a peaceful protest in solidarity with Baltimore and the protests following the death of Freddie Gray. Held outside the US embassy (I had never been there before but I would not expect anything less of the imposing building), the protest drew attention to the injustices experienced through police brutality in the US and the UK. Here are some pictures:

Check out more about the event and the aftermath here: https://www.facebook.com/events/816469358430934/

London Campaign Against Police and State Violence Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LCAPSV

The ‘Global Hand’ Profile Part 2 | Ben Solanky, Director

Hey everyone!

Following on from my previous interview with Global Hand, I decided to find out a bit more about the people behind the organisation. In this next part of the series, I sat down with the director of the charity, Ben, and asked him about his background, the advice he would give to his younger self, and his family.

Name: BEN SOLANKY

Title: DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL HAND UK

DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY, BACKGROUND, AND PREVIOUS PROJEDSC_0456CTS YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF.

My background could be summarised in a simple way – i am the son of a refugee. My father was given 30 days to leave Uganda on august 4th 1971. In a dramatic change in my family’s hopes of raising a family in there, they were given days to leave the country with one suitcase. My eldest brother was 6 months old, and I was subsequently born. It was a community group that came and rallied round and supported my family in ways that equated to stitching up mattresses, providing clothes and food, picking up my family at airports and taking us to a strange country. It was that goodwill, that love and that help which allowed my family to survive potentially quite a critical point in our lives. So I believe that experience has played a powerful part in my desire to say ‘thank you’ throughout my life.

In terms of what I have done with my life? I am a student of philosophy, so I find I’m pretty much qualified for good pub conversations and very little else! I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I ended up working in a charity. I didn’t plan for it, but I enjoyed it and kept drifting from charity to charity. I have now acquired enough wisdom and experience to understand this sector a bit better and to apply what are my hopes for trying to influence the whole sector.

“I LOVE LISTENING TO PEOPLE AND HEARING THEIR STORIES…I’M A BIT OF A SOCAL ANIMAL.”

OUTSIDE OF GLOBAL HAND, WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS AND HOBBIES THAT YOU TAKE ON?

I feel I’m quite boring! I have three children, soon to be four, and I find that they keep me occupied. I absolutely love my family – i’ve got three boys and they’re very active – I love hanging out with them. I really like stories and narratives so I enjoy watching and reading good stories, I love listening to people and hearing their stories so I’m a bit of a social animal. I’m also a lover of music.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

I don’t know – however, it’s a profound ‘i don’t know’. I would love to counsel and listen to that younger self, but I would also encourage that younger self; the people who have inspired me most are the ones who have encouraged and inspired me. So I don’t know what I would say, but I think I would encourage.

IS THERE ANYTHING/ ANY ISSUE YOU FEEL PARTICULARLY STRONGLY ABOUT?

Yes…what I care about is caring and loving. I would love to see more of that. I see a lot of this hatred, anger and a lot of people throwing their hands up in despair and it’s hard to think what the antidotes are to such situations where somebody wants to hurt another and take their land. It just feels like a massive spiral that if somebody hurts someone, they have to do the same to the next person and it’s a cycle that we keep observing. Personally, I see that cycle continuing, and there is nothing that will break it until an action of love breaks it down. As an organisation, we take inspiration seriously….it is a powerful tool against that hatred, that hurt.

5 tips to help you maintain your wellbeing when starting university

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I just published my first YouTube video! If you are about to start university, college or a new school, you might find this useful. In this video, I cover 5 main tips to help you maintain your wellbeing and maximise your experience at your new institution. Take a look to find out, and leave a comment if you like :).

Creativity in the evenings: the conundrum.

I remember reading somewhere that early mornings and evenings yield the most creativity. To this I can testify. Although I do not witness as many early mornings as I would like to, it seems that as evening comes around, I feel much more inclined to create or research something. It seems that inspiration flows more abundantly when the day has quietened down, and when the daily compulsory tasks such as work or school are not taking over.

I attribute this increased creativity to two main factors. Firstly, because my obligations for that day are taken care of, the evening seems to be the only time in which I can fully relax and use the time to invest in something I truly love to do. Secondly, the fact that it gets dark outside (goes without saying, doesn’t it?) means that I won’t feel as though I am missing out on other things – or at least I won’t be able to see it –  and so I feel less distracted.

However

…I will inevitably become distracted at some point by Tumblr for a few minutes (read: hours), and then owe that to not knowing where to start with all this free time. For example, I will get home after school or work and realise that I have a few hours left before bed to do as I please. Now, because this time is precious and I don’t want to sacrifice any of it, I will try to sketch out a brief to-do list of all the things I want to do within it. In the process however, I become daunted by the prospect of all this free time on my hands, that I end up not knowing where to begin, and then I procrastinate on doing things that I supposedly enjoy. Exhibit A: for the past six weeks I have had iMovie open on my laptop, yet the film I was supposed to edit has been left untouched. If I am completely honest, I have started to forget about it. At some point I will get around to finishing it, maybe even after I post this. Maybe.

Sigh. There are moments in life when you want something so desperately that once it comes to you, you don’t know what to do with it. Time, my friend, is often one of those things.

Personal Communities

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It’s funny how it can take a good clearout or spring clean to remind you of all the snippets and forms of community surrounding you. At the start of this week, I started clearing out my room and moving things about in order to create more space, and in the process, I uncovered multiple mini treasure-troves of souvenirs, birthday cards, school reports, a yearbook and christmas gifts that I had received over past years.

Opening each one felt like unlocking a forgotten mental safe of memories and friendships that defined those points in my life. Especially finding the more detailed or written-in cards, and a few unopened ones, in a strange way reminded me of who I was at that stage, and who I have grown – and continue to grow – into. After being distracted from my original spring-cleaning task for long enough, I came to realise how your ‘community’ – your supporters, friends, family, mentors, teachers, even employers or colleagues, can extend far beyond your consciousness of its existence.

It can be easy to discount certain ‘invisible’ members of your community, especially if we do not hear from them as frequently as those closer to us. Even if simple gestures such as Christmas or birthday cards can seem generic or empty, to an extent, its sender did think of you and consider you a part of his or her community, enough so to extend such a gesture of acknowledgement and well-wishing towards you.

Inevitably as you go forward in life, you will lose some of those relationships and networks, but it is somewhat exciting to think back and witness how these members of your community have somehow shaped you, inspired you, taught you a lesson and more. Plus, if you’re ever feeling unsure about your growth or who you are and what you have accomplished, looking through these little accounts of yourself written by people who are important to you can re-affirm the positive elements about you, but also enlighten you to some constructive (mostly constructive, but not always!) criticism about yourself that you may have worked on since then. In a way, I like to think about it as a sort of autobiographical diary.

Flipping through these souvenirs felt quite therapeutic, and turned a rather mundane task into a pleasant and fulfilling one! Despite this, it made my task slightly harder as I felt reluctant to dispose of them but hey, I guess part of moving on is letting go….

Live all of your (potential) years, not half of them!

A couple of nights ago I was checking out the Humans of New York site, when I came across this short story from a photographed lady:

 “I’m trying to distance myself from the idea that youth is the best time of life, because a lot of my friends are really anxious about growing older. I’m studying classical drawing, which helps. It really slows things down. We can work an entire month on a single drawing. And I don’t plan on reaching my peak before the age of fifty.” 

Immediately I thought ‘This is lifechanging.’ This short paragraph put so many things into perspective for me, and in a way it ‘unblocked’ my mind. I reacted in a similar way to this ‘Ageless Dailies’ StyleLikeU video above.

This is because lately, the topic of age and the course of life has been something I have been thinking about a lot. While it sounds simple and obvious to say, to actually understand that life is not over until you are no longer alive, is a bit of a challenge. For example, so many of us plan our lives and goals around age points i.e. ‘I would like to buy a house by the I’m 30’ or ‘I want to earn X amount of money while I’m still young’. The fundamental truth is that there is no rush! The practice of making life plans can be of great benefit however, if you put pressure on yourself to achieve all of those plans in your youth, further still, if you have limited foresight beyond your young years, then life is more likely to become a blur in which every achievement is reduced to a tick off your crammed to-do list.

Added to this, we need to rethink what we consider to be young. These self-imposed limits force us to live our lives as if there is a peak to reach, and as a result, we limit our capacity to explore and simply think. Quite literally, we have our whole lives to live – all of however many years we are given – to experience things, to accomplish goals, and to make our dreams manifest. We don’t have to prematurely retire from life’s goodness and opportunities because of age check-points we assign to everything we do.

So going back to the short story, in that moment of reading and re-reading it, I realised the value and importance of treasuring every potential day, week, month, year that life affords us. We should remember to treasure the temporality of life, and not reduce it. If there is something you dream of doing, get on with it! It will add to your richness of experience. That’s one thing that this inspiring StyleLikeU film has taught me.

P.S. Sorry I’ve been absent for some time! Now that exams are over I can breathe a bit :).