finally ..

9 Jul

update your rss readers and hold onto your hats, long lost penpal . com is finally live!

and no, thank you wordpress, i will not be paying $10 a year to re-direct my blog, so here is a link instead.

put your faith in a loud guitar.

26 Jun

get over it, this is rock and roll.

this week i went on a four day band marathon, travelling back and forth to glasgow with some friends to see green day and the gaslight anthem. monday night, 7.45pm, i was standing squashed in the crowd at the glasgow secc watching joan jett play cherrybomb. behind me there were two middle-aged huge joan jett fans, decked out in joan tshirts, fists pumping and bingo wings wobbling with every beat. me? i’d spent most of the day  trying to follow orders to “man up, gemma”. unsucessfully. so i was a bit jumpy; shakey and light-headed. i don’t do mosh pits very well.

so i was freaking out a little. suddenly from behind me i heard the joan jett fans say: “get over it, this is rock and roll.” and that hurt a little. was i less of a fan because i didn’t want to stand in the mosh pit? i admire everyone who likes mosh pits, but i just don’t understand the things. why would you want to stand somewhere where you knew you were going to get battered? why would you purposefully want to jump around with elbows and fists out to hurt others? if i was performing at a gig i would come out on stage and say: welcome to the show everyone, thanks for coming out tonight. now let’s all just take a step back and sit down cross-legged on the floor. we can all clap happily and sing joyously along, but mind you don’t elbow anyone with your clapping.

with two more bus journeys on the agenda i had plenty of time to think about it. what is my rock and roll? are you any less of a fan if you don’t enjoy reciprocating bruises in the name of the band? and what makes me want to go back to more gigs, time after time? luckily then came wednesday night, 10.11pm, and the gaslight anthem could shed some light on it for me.

and so, my rock and roll. my rock and roll isn’t bruising yourself black so you can be within fan-girl grabbing distance of your band, it’s making that cross-country journey just so you can see them for one night, and where you play them on your ipod the whole way there and again with even more gusto the whole way back. it’s about being able to sing every word even if you choose not to, and you can pick out a moment of your life in every line and listen out for the line in your twitter profile bio! rock and roll is in that moment when the room suddenly comes alive, everyone starts clapping, and that one insane part where every single person forgets themselves and joins in irregardless of whether they can hold a tune or not. my rock and roll is having that one band you can always turn to, your band, where you can turn on your ipod and your friends are waiting in stereo with a song for every occasion. and, the cherry on the top of my rock and roll cake? meeting your band after the show and them turning out to be the loveliest people you have ever met: signing anything going, posing for any number of pictures, spending so long talking to each fan, giving you guitar picks as you’d waited so long in the rain, laughing at your accent ..

and so they were lovely, our night was lovely, and my faith in rock and roll was restored. conclusion? rock and roll isn’t whether you can stick it out in the mosh pit or not; it’s what it means to you. it’s what you make it.  if you want to make it sweaty and bruised at the front of the crowd then that’s up to you. if you want to make it what you fall asleep to every night then that’s up to you too. and if it’s what makes your days that little bit better, gives you something to look forward to – that pile of tickets on your bookcase-, and an excuse to fill your cupboard up with band tshirts? well that’s even better. it’s not just only rock and roll. but i most definitely, definitely like it.

feels like you just might explode inside.

17 Jun

coming back from our trip to the beach in the car with the radio playing one of those songs you can imagine  in a movie when the main character is leaving town on a night-train or something i looked down at myself, covered in sand and wearing garish flip-flops, my badge all tangled in with the seatbelt. my badge. and was it sad that out of everything i was giving up i was mourning my badge the most? when i got home i went upstairs and sadly took my badge off for the last time, putting in my memory box. just a memory now.

today was my last night as a volunteer at p7 youth club: coming up for three years, three lots of p7s, a rotation of youth workers, and so many laughs. i loved my badge – gemma: youth club volunteer, and a horrible picture, but it showed i belonged. i loved working behind the coffee bar and the relentless dishing out of ice poles, saying goodnight to the polish man, how each year one p7 would become my little minion, the phoning through to kathleen and meg at reception, laughing at malcolm’s ridiculous jokes, the things the p7s came out with, violent high fives with scott “look at the elbow, now”, and alex’s joyous dancing.

tonight i left alone with no pomp and circumstance, none of the p7s knew it was my last night, probably the last time i”ll ever see them. they screamed and ran around, jumping the waves and wading up past their waists in the freezing water, shivering and covered in sand; and in my head i could see their whole lives ahead of them, who they would grow up to be at big school. i walk around westhill and work and school and get smiles and hellos from current and previous p7s, who have listened to my stories and advice and who i’ve seen grow up. and when they grow up, when they become those people i see them becoming, i hope they remember me. that i made some kind of positive impact on their lives and they look back fondly and wonder what i’m doing. and that will be enough for me for three years of volunteering, i think. and now? i have to move on. everything is ending and everything is beginning. and i’ll be excited for those beginnings if i don’t explode with sadness first.

bar the door, please don’t let them in.

11 Jun

well hello there blog, long time no speak.

these past few weeks i’ve had a lot of headaches. i get headaches way more often than anyone should, but recently i’ve woken up with excruciating headaches for no reason at all. a week ago i woke up on wednesday and my headache was so bad i was sick, and on friday it was so bad my vision was all blurred and i couldn’t see. obviously this wasn’t ok, but what made it worse was that i had my final spanish exam that day so there was no way i could do it! i had to go to the doctor and get a letter excusing me from my exam and they are sending away my practice exam instead for my final mark.

as well as the headaches i get nosebleeds all the time for no reason too. despite the doctor saying it is only because i have low blood pressure i am seriously starting to think i have a brain tumour, and it’s freaking me out .. now i have to take pills all the time to stop the headaches. i don’t think anyone should have to pop a pill each morning just to make their head feel normal but there you go.

in everything i do i find traces of my grandad bob, like little waves from the afterlife or something. today i was clearing out my room [me and my sister are swapping rooms, so that she will have a bigger room while i'm in glasgow] and i found a little note in a box in my cupboard. it was obviously my grandad bob’s work: it was on a piece of paper that had had a border which had been clumsily cut off, and the words were written in a pen which had never quite started working but that he’d had high hopes of. it said: “dear gemma, thank you very much for my birthday present and card. i hope you had a nice holiday and i’ll see you soon”, then there was a muddy paw-print at the bottom of the page and an X. this just sums up my grandad bob, he’d put so much effort into writing this note and then driving all the way across town to deliver it when i wasn’t even home, just so that rocky the dog could thank me for a birthday present he probably didn’t even know he’d received!

i was cycling to the supermarket today to buy some reduced pineapple and was trying to remember the combination for my bike-lock when i suddenly remembered my grandad bob taking it off his bike and putting it on mine, helping me remember the numbers. “34-36, 34-36. don’t forget it now.” and i didn’t forget it. i never will.

the hardest thing is when i am on check-outs at the supermarket where i work and old couples come in together with the same dynamic my gran and grandad bob had; that constant loving bickering. the old men give me their money and i place the change back into their hands, and i see my grandad bob’s hands in their hands: big and freckled with sunspots and the nails dark with earth and work; the hands i held the second last time i saw him, when in the aftermath of a fit he wasn’t responsive so i held his hand in mine and he still didn’t say anything but squeezed them; the hands i held in his coffin, now waxy and heartbreakingly cold.  

i get frustrated sometimes because i want more than anything to believe that he is floating around somewhere out there, watching over us and looking after us as he did in life. i pray every night for this and that we are making him proud, and i would love for him to suddenly appear in some ghostly form beside my bed for a wee chat. i am simultaneously hopeful and scared to see his ghost, if there is such a thing as ghosts, because i am scared of what he would be like, if he would be in pain or if he would be back to robust health and look like he’d just tucked into a good sunday dinner. on the one hand i think it gets harder every day, because every day i come a bit closer to accepting that he is gone. on the other hand if i believe in the afterlife it should get easier every day because each day is bit closer to seeing him again.

my current hobby is watching the whole series of glee whilst eating large quantities of reduced fruit and three cups of tea. i work every single day at the supermarket, apart from thursdays which i savour .. today i celebrated my day off by doing my laundry in scent co-ordinating washing powder, fabric conditioner, and ironing water. if i tell you this was the high point of my day you can probably gain some insight into how eventful things are around here now i have no school .. i also like trying out new recipes, which so far have come off surprisingly well, especially chicken parmigiana from [i now have my whole family addicted to, and when my dad, my gran and i watched amanda's video about scarves we practically self-combusted from joy at her accent!] add this laundry and cooking to the fact that i like furnishing my imaginary house on and searching rental properties in seattle and edinburgh and i sound practically middle-aged. is it bad that i sometimes wish i was middle-aged already? ..

and if you were wondering what colour i ended up dying my hair? i dyed it a deep red, but because my hair was so dark it came out as a kind of brown dark red mixture. here’s a picture for photographic evidence: [actually this picture is so small you can barely see but ho hum.]


they don’t love you like i love you.

25 May

this weekend i spent friday evening in glasgow at a rocket summer gig with my sister and two friends. when we entered the garage, where it was held; every single person was vaguely wearing the exact same thing as me, had the exact same hair as my friend, and were also there to see a band we love – but they all looked so hostile towards us! i felt like i was amongst my own people and yet was still out of place, or something.

that night we drove cross-country and pitched up at a holiday park near edinburgh at midnight, to share a caravan with the rest of my family. the next day we woke up early and all had breakfast together, then walked around the site in the sunshine and heat to the seaside and the swimming pool and to have a nose into all the caravans for sale. my gran and i danced to the music they were playing over the loudspeakers and we ate ice lollies. then, we drove into edinburgh and walked around the royal mile for a while and up to the castle. it was so, so hot. i have never been so hot here in scotland in my whole life. unbelievable. when all i wanted to do was stay the whole weekend with my family i got on the train and travelled back up to aberdeen, where with every mile it got less sunny and more hazy and my train table was swimming in red vodka and party poppers. then i worked for the rest of the weekend and was extremely lonely in my empty house with noone to speak to, apart from on sunday night when i went to my best friend’s house and learned to play poker.

ever since the hostileness of my glaswegian peers and the good times i had with my family i’ve felt torn between wondering if moving to glasgow really is the right choice or if i was stupid and rash and should have decided to stay here. in the face of thinking that my family would become down-heartened and torn apart after the death of my grandad bob they have instead become close-knit and more appreciative of the time they have together, spending more time with each other. and soon i won’t be a part of that any more. anyways, i go through phases of this thinking. but in the end i suppose that the main thing really is that i would like to have a fresh start and glasgow is the way forward. i always get these bouts of glumness in the holidays, which go away when we return to school .. apart from i’m never going to return to school so when will the glumness end?!

i finally put down the money for website hosting on monday, and after some soul-destroying international phonecalls to houston is kind-of basically up and running. i’m currently having a nervous breakdown with css and headers and plug-ins and all kind of things. right now it seems that i either have a professional looking theme which is then harder for me to edit or a rubbishy looking one which i can change how i like because the coding is simpler. so anyways, just a heads up: after i’ve worked through this theme mine-field i’m going to try and import all this old blog content into the new one and re-direct the old address, but i’m not sure how this is going to work or even if it’s going to work so i guess it could get a bit messy.

today i had my first ever driving lesson, and it was very exciting because i actually managed to not stall the car and drive around a bit. not stalling the car is a feat in itself because when i tried to drive my mum’s car around an empty car park last week as practice i stalled it almost every single time i tried to get it going, and then when i did get it going i accidently went so fast that the car lurched forward and i braked so ferociously that tyre marks are now permanently burned into the kingswells park and ride car-park as a souvenir of my first foray into driving. let’s hope my lessons continue to go better than that ..

this summer i have a whole list of things that i want to accomplish, which i’m hoping to start off my first new exciting post on with [you know, if i ever work through the horror that is css ..] and i’m hoping to do a lot of cooking and stuff, so hopefully i’ll be able to share that all with you.

what should i do with my hair?

18 May

i first dyed my hair red when i was 14, and it was red [or ginger ..] for two years. then i got fed up of it fading all the time and dyed it brown instead. i kept considering dying it back to red, but i made a new friend who had dyed her hair red and two fake gingers in a crowd is two fake gingers too many .. BUT now she’s dyed her hair brown again, so should i go back to my old colour, strip my hair and be natural, go crazy and dye it blonde, or keep it a streaky kind of brown?

here’s some pictures to help you decide ..

what do you think? please answer in the comments :)

i hear the thunder out in the distance.

16 May

today i relished having a free sunday because i don’t usually have one and work all weekend instead. i went out to a car-boot sale because my gran was selling all my grandad’s things and i desperately wanted to rescue some of his books. i could never even imagine selling any of his things at all, but luckily his books survived her unsentimental sweep and are still safely at home. his old typewriter is in the back of the car right now and it’s destined for my desk. instead i salvaged the secret garden video that we used to watch – it skips because it’s been played so many times. i also found this amazing stall selling old badges and got three mugs for £1.75. i love car boot sales - although when i think about them i get that same kind of itch you get when you think about nits, thinking about all the germs that could be hanging around on people’s old stuff!

when we got home i decided i would make some mango chicken for my lunch. i got a cookbook a few months ago to start working on my recipe skills before i go to uni, and so far i am happy to say that my attempts have turned out really well. i’m an exceptionally bad baker though, but i think i’m working towards shaking off that bad-cook reputation. i hunted for mango pulp for ages in the supermarket and now i finally have some it’s more than i know what to do with .. two batches of mango chicken for four people and it still isn’t finished.

after that i went to pick up my train ticket from the station, because next friday i’m going to glasgow to see the rocket summer [if the ash cloud actually lets them fly to the uk ..] and then doing a cross-country hop to stay in the caravan my family have hired near edinburgh because my uncle is running the marathon on saturday. i have to be back for work on saturday night though, hence the train ticket.

then i went to pick up my gran and to return my university library books to the university in old aberdeen. it was so beautiful, the sun was shining [for once .. it actually snowed on monday!] and the streets were cobbled and the houses so old. however, we walked past the building where my parents used to live and the paint was peeling, the door had no letterbox and someone had written the building number on it in lipstick .. so we tried the door handle. it opened. we tiptoed inside into the cool dimness and the peeling paint and went like spies up the stairs to look at their old flat. then we heard someone coming down the stairs so we had to slip back out the back door and hide in the garden. we laughed and hid amongst the weeds and dandelions and a cat looked out the window at us accusingly. then we went to visit the cathedral and an extremely enthusiastic man met us at the door and gave us a leaflet .. in dutch.

i got my accomodation for uni recently, it’s in student houses two minutes from campus. i’m happy with that – no rowdy student village in the middle of a really bad area for me, thank you. we can google street-view spy on it here and here. i’m not sure which street it will be on yet, but i’m hoping it’s hillhead.

* as an after-thought: i went to see kiss last weekend with my best friend alex and i like this picture. it looks like the kind of picture you would get on a xanga photo site and is a bit girls gone child-esque.


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