What Would You do if Your Cat Spoke to You?

We were halfway through our bowl of baked beans when Ronnie lifted his paw to inspect it under the blue light of our living room. I had bought a blue light because they were cheaper than normal orange/yellow lights due to their being darker, thereby emanating less light. Anyway, Ronnie lifted a paw to inspect it. Ths was kinda rude, but as Ronnie was an animal I accepted it. ‘Dude, I don’t want to overstep, my place, but I think it’s time you got your shit together,’ he said. I jumped. My spoon jogged, flinging baked beans at the roof. They hit the ceiling. A bean slowly came unstuck and plopped in my tea. I tried to use my spoon to get it out but got more baked bean sauce in the drink. I then tried to tactically slosh the top layer of my drink onto the floor but accidentally sloshed it at Ronnie’s face. He flinched and jumped a metre into the air. He landed in the bowl of baked beans.

‘Whoa, easy, dude,’ he said.

‘Huh?’ I said. ‘What’s this about getting my shit together?’

‘You’ve been mulching about all day,’ said Ronnie.

‘Wait, WHEN did you learn to speak!?’ I said.

‘When did YOU learn to speak?’ said Ronnie.

‘When I was like three,’ I said. ‘But that’s hardly surprising. I’m a human. How the hell did you learn to speak?’

‘Jesus christ, just ‘cos I don’t speak doesn’t mean I don’t know how. I have selective mutism. Have some sensitivity. It’s a serious condition,’ said Ronnie.

‘WHAT?’ I said. ‘So ALL this time you’ve been hearing what I’ve been saying?’

‘Err… YES,’ said Ronnie. ‘I thought you knew that… That’s why you’ve been talking to me? Why would you talk to me if you thought I couldn’t understand you?’

‘So how come you can suddenly talk?’ I said

‘I’ve been seeing a new therapist and we went through some cognitive behavioural therapy stuff,’ said Ronnie. ‘Also, he prescribed me with some new pills called gronnobocolem. They really help with that kind of stuff.’

‘Wait, HOW can you see a therapist? And I thought it was psychiatrists who prescribed medication?’

‘Same way you can,’ said Ronnie. ‘And oh yeah, I meant psychiatrist. But anyway a psychiatrist is a kind of therapist. And I’m starting to think you should see one too. Can we stop deflecting onto my issues and discuss your mulching?’


*This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. And if you thought this story was crap, it was a free-write that I made up as I went along and minimally edited later, so fuck you.*

We Are Inconsistent

I don’t think that we’re very consistent. We humans. I think we fake a lot of consistency because we believe that consistency = sanity. It feels like I could write endlessly about this subject. I will try, with much difficulty, to boil down some of my thoughts.

A recurring thought I’ve struggled with over the past few days is the idea that I am not the same person I was a few years ago: Not only am I unable to relate to many of the thoughts that dominated my mind a few years ago, but I feel completely removed from that person. It is an incredibly odd sensation. I remember exactly (or almost exactly) what it was like to be that person, but I am no longer that person.

It is a common idea that we are not our thoughts, and that each of us has a core personality that is the essence of who they are. I’ve always found that idea hard to believe. I feel like I am my thoughts. More specifically, I am my most frequently recurring thoughts. Many thoughts come and go like visitors. You can imagine them as figures entering and leaving the building of the mind. Some visit once, but then leave and never return. Others visit a few times, but aren’t too insistent. And then there are those that visit frequently, seeming to take up permanent residence in the mind. These are the thoughts that I feel make up my personality. They stick around firmly amid the constantly moving crowd.

So, what happens when those ‘permanent’ residents move out, and new ‘permanent’ residents move in? This is the part I find so difficult to come to terms with. In a way, what makes it so weird is that I never noticed the previous residents moving out. The changeover happened so gradually that I didn’t pick up on it.

I find it really disturbing that I’m a different person. Of course, I prefer my current self to my previous self. That is an extreme understatement. But I also feel guilty that I am no longer my previous self. I dread to think how they would feel if they saw me now and knew all of the negative thoughts I have currently about them. My current self is embarrassed about my past self, and I feel guilty for this embarrassment. How would my past self feel if they knew my current self was embarrassed about them? And also, how would they feel about the fact that many of their convictions have dissolved? I know they would not relate to me. And in looking at me, they would see their death.

So, Jamila, you’re feeling guilty about a hypothetical scenario involving time-travel, in which your past self meets your present self?

Well, the thing is, this scenario isn’t 100% hypothetical. The fact is that I still have the memories of my past self. I remember what it was to be them. So each time I remember the person I used to be, my past self encounters my present self: The two selves meet through memory.

Did I say two?

It’s not that simple. As you know. There are more than two selves, past and present. There are infinite selves from the different stages between the two.

And… not only is there conflict between the selves at different stages, but each stage has its own conflicts within itself. You can have contradictory thoughts and opinions at each stage
I now feel it is my task to reconcile those contradictory views and stages.

But what if they can’t be reconciled? What if that’s not the point? Maybe consistency is an illusion.

How Socially Accountable Are We?

Emotions filter our perception. Intense emotions filter our perception more finely than mild emotions. So our feelings affect what we believe and communicate. Often over logic instead of in conjunction with it.

Because we don’t want to be hypocritical, we may cling to an idea we expressed in the heat of a certain emotion. This is unreasonable, but it’s scary to admit to being inconsistent.

Sometimes, we don’t have an opinion about something. There are conflicting emotions, and there is not enough information. But we don’t want to show our indescisiveness. This is illogical, but it’s scary to admit to being inconsistent.

Sometimes, we have an idea, but we are worried that others will wrongly perceive it as being stupid, so we don’t say it. This is illogical, but it’s scary to admit to being inconsistent.

The truth is, we are inconsistent. Our mindsets and opinions are mainly formed by passing emotions over logic – and we don’t like to question our mindsets and opinions. This makes us too rigid.

People have different emotions at different times in their lives, so they form different mindsets and opinions to each other. This creates individuality. But it also creates disagreements between individuals. These disagreements turn into conflict when new emotions arise without logic to pacify them.

How can we limit conflict? One way is to accept inconsistency as a fact of life. You have to accept your own inconsistency, and you have to accept the inconsistency of others. Accepting your own inconsistency is coming to terms with the fact that your views have been heavily shaped by emotions, and not as heavily shaped by logic. So your opinions are not necessarily the objective truth. Accepting the inconsistency of others is coming to terms with the fact that they are not always being stupid for having views that differ from your own. You are both capable of being victims to your respective emotions.

When you have accepted your own inconsistency, you can work towards changing it. How? You can question your thoughts to make sure that your views are formed using both emotion AND logic. If you constantly question your thoughts, you become more reasonable. Your emotions stop ruling your decisions; they instead only contribute to them. You must learn to be compassionately critical to yourself. Then, when disagreements with other people threaten to become conflicts, you will be able to reason with yourself and with them.

When you have accepted the inconsistency of others, you can learn to cut them slack for having the opinions they have. You will become more patient. Of course, you will still get angry. You will still get frustrated. It is okay to express it. The difficult thing about conflict is is guessing how to do so without the situation escalating. You have to do your opinions and emotions justice without unnecessarily hurting the other person. You have to strike a balance. This is the trickiest thing to do. Most of us fail. But it is possible.

The problem arises when you are the only one that is cutting the other person slack. In this scenario, you understand that human beings have the tendency to be inconsistent, but the person that you are having a disagreement with, believes their opinion to be the objective truth. You don’t want the situation to escalate, but they don’t seem to care whether it does. Or maybe, the conflict is their intention in the first place. What do you do in this scenario? Well, of course, it depends on the individual you are having the disagreement with. You have to gauge how much empathy they are capable of dispensing. If it seems like there’s a chance of resolving the conflict, try to do so. But if they aren’t responding appropriately, by all means, tell them to go fuck themself. My point is that if they aren’t ready to come to a compromise, or if the only (metaphorical) language they are capable of speaking is aggression, then you will have to speak that language to them in order for them to understand you.

The other option is walking away. I used to always walk away because I had principles that I didn’t want to give up. The problem this caused was an emotional toll. Despite knowing logically that I had taken the moral high ground and not wasted my attention, I had something weighing on me. Inside, unexpressed anger and frustration festered. It’s tempting to try to dismiss these things as illogical emotions, but when they are there because of unresolved conflict, and when they persist, they matter. So, at the time of conflict, you must weigh up whether it is better to A) walk away or B) respond to the aggression in kind.

Usually there isn’t time to properly decide. And, of course, the emotions of the moment make it difficult. You won’t feel you’ve made the ‘right’ choice a lot of the time. That’s okay. It matters that you try, and that you are honest with yourself.

I feel that the reason many of us are scared to show compassion and empathy is that we are afraid it won’t be reciprocated. But if all of us have that fear, we will drift further and further apart. Sometimes, you have to be the one to take the first steps. And yes, in a world where others are afraid to do so, and where some people act horribly, showing compassion has become an act of courage. It can feel unfair. That is why you have to use your judgement, and remember that your own emotions do matter as well.

When others judge you for being ‘nice’, they are the weaker ones. Cynicism is an overrated defense mechanism. When you break out of it, you are the stronger party. If you live in fear of others not understanding your decency, you are letting them determine your conduct. In reality, you have as much power as they do to determine the etiquette and the amount of warmth that goes into an interaction: you have to remember that you are socially accountable. Of course, when others overstep the mark, you’re under no obligation to put up with abuse. But when that happens, it is a matter of them not understanding their place, rather than you not understanding yours.

When you realise that you are socially accountable, the question that arises is the extent to which it is your right (or responsibility) to help or correct others. If people aren’t on the same wavelength as you, they won’t be receptive. However, retrospect is a handy gift.  There have been times when I’ve disagreed with people, only to realise later that they had a point. The reason I only realised later was because I had time to gradually mull the matter over and become less emotionally invested in my previous point of view. So sometimes it is worth giving someone a word or two of your opinion, even if they don’t seem receptive at the time. This goes without saying: be nice about it.

What should you at times when you are finding it hard to empathize? Sometimes you are simply unable to imagine what it is like to be someone else. At those times, rather than abstractly trying to feel for them, it helps to use logic. You KNOW that they must be feeling something. Even if you can’t engage emotionally, you can use your knowledge of what they’re doing to intellectually get an idea of what their emotions might be.

Lastly, you’re not always going to do the right thing. The best thing you can do is be honest with yourself and come to terms with it. It’s easier to try to justify your mistakes, but it’s more truthful to accept the fact you are capable of making mistakes. I actually think it’s even more forgiving. Justifying something to yourself takes energy, stress and surpression. Accepting mistakes – and trying to do better – is easier.

Have the courage to take the first step; be honest and empathetic! Thank you!

Please continue the discussion down below. I am very keen to hear what others think about this topic. What are your tactics for becoming more empathetic? How do you deal with others when they aren’t? Did you agree with what I said, or were there parts that confused you? I will also be happy to answer questions on this topic if you have them.

If you found this post interesting, please share it along with your thoughts on social media. Have a phenomenal day. xxx

2017 BFF Resolutions

 I’m sure you remember my BFF, Inspired Teen! We’ve blogged together before, and I mention her in multiple bucket list posts (actually, those posts are quite far back now; it’s incredible how fast time passes). We are doing another collaboration. We decided to make friendship resolutions and post them one one person’s blog, and make normal resolutions – you know, like normal people do 😉 – and post them on the other person’s blog. The friendship resolutions are going on my blog, and the normal-people resolutions are going on Inspired Teen’s blog.
Friendship resolutions are a bit like friendship bucket list items, except that, like normal resolutions, they are made at the beginning of the year, and must be completed within the year. They are essentially fun things to do together.
Inspired Teen’s friendship resolutions (written by her):
1. Finally have that horror movie marathon – Jamila and I have been planning on having a horror movie marathon together for so long! We tried having one in November but I’m very good at falling asleep once I’ve got the TV on so after a film and a half I was already asleep. Not that much of a horror movie marathon. Now that we’ve got an entire new year to plan it, hopefully we’ll actually get it done.
2. Phone each other at least twice a week for a month – When our friendship was first starting out we used to e-mail each other maybe three pages worth of e-mail a week or something like that. We were always talking, I don’t think I’ve ever contacted anyone that much after knowing them for such little time except her. However, as the years have gone by we’ve both become busier and have had less time, we now skype message quite often but it will never be the same as having a proper catch-up, that’s why I hope this year we will manage to get into a pattern of regular catch-ups. Because I miss her!
3. Have at least four sleepovers – for the reasons just started above Jamila and I struggle to pin down dates when we’re both available to not only see each other but travel to each other as we live quite far away from each other. This year though I definitely have plans to see more of this wonderful human being, four sleepovers doesn’t feel like asking for too much!
4. Start filling a scrapbook together – Jamila, you may have realised, is a very arty person and has about five scrapbooks on the go all at once. I have never managed to get into scrapbooking as I have so little time, but I would really love to make this a joint project together. It could be photos as well as art work and maybe even a few journal entries done in an arty way, but I would really like it if Jamila and I could start working on this together this year.
5. Spend Halloween together – we have wanted to do this ever since we became friends but I have been busy on the last couple of Halloweens with drama performances, this year though, my schedule is free and if we arrange it in enough time then hopefully it will happen! And then we can have our horror movie marathon on Halloween!
6. Take photobooth photos together – for my 15th birthday I went bowling with some friends and there was a photo booth there, it was really cheap to have photobooth photos taken as well and I think they’re really cool and great to hang up in your room, I would really love it if we could take some photobooth photos this year together.
7. Go on a photography trip together – As well as being very artistic you may have noticed from Jamila’s Instagram that she is also INSANELY talented when it comes to photography, there basically isn’t a single thing that girl can’t do and yet she says I’M intelligent! She is, like, the most intelligent person I know. Anyway, one of my new year’s resolutions is to get more into photography and so I would really love it if I could go on a photography trip with her and we could take loads of great photos and then compare them at the end of the day, maybe do some editing and then perhaps even print them out for our amazing scrapbook that we’re going to have – exciting right?!
My friendship resolutions (written by me):
8. Write each other letters – I don’t mind how many letters we write to each other – whether it’s just a couple, or it becomes a regular thing we do to update each other. To  me, receiving a letter is something very special; there’s something about seeing one’s name written in ink on the envelope and knowing that inside is a tangible message that can be stored in one place and read over and over again. Writing a letter is fun because, like writing an e-mail or blog post, you are expressing your thoughts and updating someone, but something about it feels different. I’m not sure what that is. Inspired Teen has sent me some beautiful letters in the past. She actually sent me some bucket lists on the post on really nice paper, and I loved the feeling of opening the envelopes (for me) and reading the messages (to me).
9. Have a picnic together – Inspired Teen and I have never sat down together in a park and had a proper picnic-picnic. We have sat down on a bench and had chips before, and I am sure that there have been other times when we’ve been out-and-about and grabbed a bite, but we’ve never prepared food to take with us. I have this very quaint idea in my head of us packing sandwiches and biscuits into a wicker picnic basket; filling chunky flasks with tea or ginger beer, and heading off to a park. When we get there, the sun will be shining and we’ll spread out a red-and-white checkered picnic blanket and lay out our food. In real life, it will probably be more something along the lines of packing sandwiches into Tesco tupperwares; filling dodgy tea-stained flasks with… well, tea, “Jamila, where on earth is the lid for this flask” “I have no idea,” and spending ages deciding on a park. But it will STILL be awesome.
10. Play Settlers of Catan together – We have already played Settlers of Catan, but it is one of the funnest games, and I’d love to play it again. Especially since Inspired Teen seems to have all the expansion packs. Okay, that’s a massive exaggeration, but she has more than one Settlers of Catan game. I see the big boxes sitting temptingly on the game shelf near her kitcken. For those who don’t know, Settlers of Catan is a board game where you build settlements by trading resources. We played Settlers of Catan last time I went to her house… I think it was last time… and it was the first time I’d played the game in about six years. In fact, it was only the second time I played the game. I had to be taught it all over again. That must have been slightly annoying for Inspired Teen. However, the game was easier than it had felt the first time I played it. I really enjoyed it!
11. Do some creative writing together – I have a feeling this is something we’ve said we’ll do together before. Creative writing is so fun when you pick a random prompt and time yourself and just write. It’s entertaining hearing what the other person/s have written. I also feel like it could be an opportunity for both of us to finally get some embarrassing poetry out. That’ll be hilarious! We might even write one non-embarrassing poem. Fingers crossed.
12. Play Agar Hub together – Okay… I have some explaining to do. Something you may not know about me is that, in the last few months of 2016 I got really into playing this AgarIO spinoff called Agar Hub. I am not into computer games or video games AT ALL. I’m not even into board games except for the occasional Settlers of Catan game. But I have somhow managed to while away hours on Agar Hub. It is faster and better than the original AgarIO (I’ve played the original AgarIO once or twice). In the game, you are a blob, and your objective is to eat blobs that are smaller than you whilst avoiding being eaten by bigger blobs. Each blob you eat makes you bigger. It is addictive! That’s from someone who can resist the all-powerful Netflix and its formidable ‘Next episode plays in 7…6… 5…’ (Well, usually.)
13. Sit down and read together – This may sound like the most boring thing ever, possibly like a waste of our limited time together – but I think it would be really nice to make a cup of tea (well, two) and sit down on the sofa together and read. We could even read on that black straw-covered sofa in Inspired Teen’s shed. Yes, she has a sofa in her shed. I think it’s really cool. Anyway, the reason I would like to read together is because there’s something to be said for companionable silence. Once we sat for a while on our phones together and it didn’t feel awkward or unsociable; it just felt natural and it was nice not to sit alone.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you make some friendship resolutions, if you want to =) If you do, let me know what they are!
Finally, if you’re interested in reading my resolutions – and Inspired Teen’s – they can be found on her blog: lifeofaninspiredteen

Different Types of Humour

Humour is so underrated. It is, in a way, like poetry, and sometimes I think that it is even a type of poetry. What poetry does for us when we read it, is it calls to attention something that is beneath the surface of our minds, validating it in a beautiful or ironic light. Often our simple recognition of the subject matter creates 60% of the beauty already. (I picked 60% as a slightly random example. I really meant a large percentage, but I thought it would sound better if I made it seem more specific.)

Humour has a similar function. What makes a lot of humour humour is the fact that we can relate to it, like seeing someone in a TV series doing something stupid that we can imagine ourselves doing. Usually the funny thing is something that isn’t called to attention a lot in our everyday lives. That’s why we get that low-key eureka-esque feeling when we see it pointed out. It feels like a bit of a relief to see it.

Like poetry, humour validates us.

The difference is that humour usually does it without seriousness. Humour is happy. Happy and relatable. And, like poetry, it’s intelligent. It’s incisive. That’s what makes it one of the greatest therapies. I think that if you’re feeling lonely, hearing a joke can completely erase your loneliness for a few seconds – or a few minutes. Or, if you’re really lucky, like an hour or something.

I think it’s really interesting that everybody has a different sense of humour. I can picture each of my friends in turn and think of the kind of thing that would make that individual laugh. It’s always very hard to pin-point. I know roughly what their sense of humour is, but I don’t know what to call it.

I would say that personally, the jokes I find the funniest would fit into the category of, Goofy, Silly or Relatable. I also like slapstick comedy. While I do find Gallows Humour funny – maybe even funnier than most people find it -, I don’t think I find it funny enough in proportion to other things I find funny to say that I have a Dark or Warped sense of humour. I think that Goofy is just so wide-ranging that it overlaps with Warped. Shut up; these are real terms.

Sarcasm has never come naturally to me (I actually think sarcasm is cynical and overused) and while I find “Witty” humour hilarious coming from other people, I’m not intelligent enough to come up with my own witty jokes. Maybe I can work on it.

Having a goofy sense of humour is why I love films and series like Wayne’s World (and Wayne’s World 2, which is even better), Brooklyn 99 and Yes Man.

I wonder why people have the sense of humour they have. Is your sense of humour the product of your experiences, or something you’re born with? How much is it linked with your other personality traits? I’d love to say that sarcasm is linked to jaded cynicism and boringness, but I think that would just be me having a go at sarcastic people. You know, I don’t actually hate sarcasm; I just think it’s overused. And also, maybe I wish I could get away with being sarcastic more…

Because I think the question of how humour and personality intertwine is so intriguing, I’ve decided to use some of my friends as examples, and explore their respective types of humour and personalities.

But first of all, I’ll look into my own.

LOL, I can see all scientists and researchers out there shaking their heads in their hands; this is seriously the most subjective attempt at research anyone has ever done.

My sense of humour: Goofy, Silly, Slapstick

My personality: Serious; Always analysing things; Often feeling overlooked

Obviously those are just three traits of my personality. I picked them because I feel like they play the biggest part in my day-to-day self-image. Wow, Jamila; you’re not even going pretend to get a third party to pick them?

I can’t claim to see an immediate relationship between the contents of the first and second category. In fact, they seem to contain opposite traits. The most obvious conclusion to draw from them is that perhaps the reason I like goofy humour is because I am serious in my everyday life, but that just seems a bit glib. More importantly, I don’t know enough people for whom the same is true to validate that conclusion. Lastly, many people will say I’m the worst person to pick my own traits, let alone to try to analyse them. Ooh, I’ve thought of another one (I know I said lastly; shut up): your three defining characteristics aren’t necessarily going to be the ones that bear correlation to your sense of humour. Okay, I’m done.

If I think about it off the top of my head, I suppose I find goofy humour funny because it’s a relief to know that other people have thoughts that are as silly or improbable as my own. I find slapstick humour funny because of the “thank-god-that-wasn’t-me” factor – and the fact that I automatically spend a lot of my day trying not to fall over, so seeing someone else actually fall over (or do something more ridiculous) is a relief.

Now, how can I link that to the three traits I listed about my personality? To be honest, the main connection I see is that thinking a lot means that I have some pretty improbable thoughts, so seeing those kinds of thoughts in others, which happens in Goofy humour, is a relief.

I’m going to assign my friends code names so I don’t risk offending them if they see this blog post.

I think that my friend Snafflecakes has a similar sense of humour to me. Snafflecakes’ type of humour: Goofy, Silly, British

(On second thoughts, code names might be worse.)

Snafflecakes’ personality: Serious; Interested; Kind; Open-minded

A lot of British humour is funny because of how far it takes things, and because of the mock-seriousness it deals with. I think British people like British humour because of that stereotypical “stiff upper lip” and because of the irony it contains. I can’t see any correlation between Snafflecakes’ British sense of humour and their personality. All I can think of is that Snafflecakes has been raised by people who like that sense of humour, so Snafflecakes has been exposed to it from an early age, and may possess genes that predispose them to it (though that seems improbable). Snafflecakes probably likes Goofy humour for the same reason I do.

My other friend, Grendygome, has a more meme-ish sense of humour that I don’t get most of the time. Grendygome’s type of humour: Memes; Randomness; Tropes in a certain genre of music; Running jokes in a certain genre of music

Grendygome’s personality: passion for certain genre of music; confidence; eagerness

I think Grendygome finds jokes about their favourite genre of music funny because such jokes have a feeling of solidarity. Each subculture has its own stereotypes, tropes and running jokes. These develop naturally out of being outside of the mainstream. They help to cement the subculture.

My friend Zummygoo’s sense of humour: Witty, Observational, Nice

Zummygoo’s personality: Extremely intelligent; Honest; Kind

Zummygoo jokes the most frequently out of all my friends. I think it’s difficult for them not to be witty. Because they’re intelligent, they see a lot of patterns in things, and I think pointing out these patterns has become a habit. When I say Zummygoo can have a ‘nice’ sense of humour, I mean that they seem to be able to jokingly elevate other people’s egos in a totally non-weird (nice) way. It’s difficult to do, and even more difficult to explain. They also have the ability to joke about a shared situation, which makes the situation feel even more shared.

Kobbymob’s personality: Understanding, Loving, Obsessive, Opinionated

Kobbymob’s sense of humour: Hard to say; Theoretically possible scenarios that exaggerate the status of current situations; Randomness

Kobbymob’s jokes have mainly been about Kobbymob and myself in improbable situations. They have elements of truth based on my own attitudes and Kobbymob’s, but they take those attitudes further, to a ridiculous extent. They may be seen as slightly mocking, but in the best of ways. To be honest, I can’t see a way to link Kobbymob’s sense of humour to Kobbymob’s personality. Actually, now that I think about it, Kobbymob is a very affectionate person, and that affection comes across in their slightly teasing sense of humour.

I am not going to bore you by going through ALL my friends (because I have so many, hahaha) and their personalities. From what I’ve explored, I feel like there is some correlation between sense of humour and other personality traits, but not enough to create any rules. Perhaps, though, if I go through more of my friends, I will find more reliable patterns, so it’s hard to say at this stage. If you would like me to, I can do another post going into this in more detail. Haha, you’re thinking, ‘Noooo, Jamila; spare me!’ Seriously, if you want me to, say below, and I will.

Someone I knew once posited a theory that what we find funny developed out of what we weren’t allowed to talk about as children. I personally wasn’t allowed to talk about sex or drugs, and I wasn’t allowed to swear. Talking about sex and drugs can be funny to me now, as can swearing. So far the theory holds up. But there’s no proof of causation. I’m sure if I tried, I could think of other things I wasn’t allowed to talk about that I don’t find funny. I reckon the theory could have some merit, but it isn’t an absolute rule.

One thing I’ve observed is that a key factor in humour seems to be relief.

Relief, to me, is one of the main components of gallows humour. Death and such matters are taboo because they scare us. And because they’re taboo, those times we do actually want to make a joke about them, we feel like we can’t. Seeing someone else make a joke about them is a relief. It also makes death and such seem less intimidating.

But there’s something else that humour – in general – makes less intimidating. Life. That is why humour important. I think meeting funny people is a blessing, beccause they give us many of those eureka-esque moments. But don’t leave all of it up to other people 😉 Remember that you have the power in yourself to be funny any time you wish.

The Best Friend Tag

Hey guys, you probably don’t know me (and if you do it probably means that you’ve come over here from my blog so if you have then thank you so much!), my name is Inspired Teen and I have come from my blog – lifeofaninspiredteen.wordpress.com. It is such a privilege to be writing this amazing guest post/collaboration on my best friend’s blog. This is my first ever collaboration and I am so excited to be doing it here.

My best friend is partially responsible for my blog so I have a lot to be grateful for. She encouraged me to get my own blog – not verbally even but just by having her own blog she inspired me to start mine and I am so glad that I did! I know mine will never be half as good as hers but I love it just the way it is.

Also, I would just like to shout out to sprinklesandsparklesx.wordpress.com who’s Best Friend Tag inspired me to write this post for your guys today and to have my best friend doing the same over on my blog.

Anyway… let’s get into the post!

When and where did you and your best friend meet?

We met at a week-long camp for home-educated people back in July 2013. I was running a dance workshop there and so had managed to get in for free as the cost was quite high and she came to my workshop every single day for five days. She was the one person who I could always guarantee would turn up and it was very motivating – especially given that the week we were camping was very hot and so I wasn’t sleeping well and was a bit tired and grumpy and it was hard to get the energy up to actually run the workshop but I’m glad that I did. Funnily enough we didn’t start our friendship whilst at the camp all that much; we exchanged e-mail addresses kind of as an after thought and then became best friend’s that way. To be honest, I never would have thought we would have become as close as we now are and if you had told me on the first day of camp three years ago that she would now be my best friend and I would be doing the best friend tag on her blog and her on mine, I never would have believed you.

Why are they your best friend?

Jamila is my best friend because she was always interested in me and what I had to say, she always wanted to write me e-mails twice as long as the e-mails I’d written to her in response to what I had said in mine, she never discarded all of my comments and tried to make her e-mails as short as possible (unlike some annoying people in society where you send them three massive long paragraphs in a text and they reply with ‘k’), she remained on good terms with me even early on in our friendship when I would be so lazy that I wouldn’t reply to her e-mails for weeks and weeks. She’s my best friend because I never have to explain anything to her in further detail than I already have, she just understands me in a way no one else does. She doesn’t judge me for my interests or my tastes in music or TV etc. and she is always willing to listen to me obsess over things without making a fuss or telling me to “shut up” like other people I know. She’s my best friend because we can sit on the sofa not talking, staring at our phones and it doesn’t seem awkward or anti-social it’s a nice comfortable silence where we feel we can do our own thing without worrying about what the other is doing.

Is there anything you would change about your best friend?

Her music taste. Just because I want to be able to go to concerts with her and I’m pretty sure that she wouldn’t really fit in with the boyband crowd of screaming twelve-year-olds and I wouldn’t really fit into the crowd of dread-locked-heavy-eyelinered-metal fans. Whilst I’m sure we will go to a concert together one day it will probably take a lot of negotiation and compromise, so I look forward to it!

What is the one thing you admire most about your best friend?

There are so many things that I admire, but I think the thing I admire most is her ability to make anything sound interesting, and she always thinks about things in such an interesting way. She never has thoughts that she doesn’t really consider, she always knows why she has those thoughts and she can always explain why she thinks things. There are many occasions when we will be talking on the phone and she will talk in a continuous stream for about 10-20 minutes and eventually she’ll stop and apologise for talking for so long and make a comment about how I was probably really bored and if I ever get bored to tell her that I’m bored and to ‘shut up’ but in actual fact, even when the thing she’s talking about isn’t something I’m normally interested in, just the way she says it or how passionate she clearly is makes me interested and that’s a very admirable thing. For example, she did an absolutely amazing and engaging post called A Band That’s Actually A Gang about a band called ‘The World Inferno Friendship Society’ and whilst I know that she likes them and we’ve talked about them, I was particularly impressed with this post because not only did it take her about two weeks to write because she wanted to perfect it, but it was also just so engaging and interesting to read even though I don’t generally have an interest in the band.

What is one thing that only you and your best friend understand?


How would you describe your best friend’s ideal partner?

Long hair (but not too long), wears eyeliner, wears band t-shirts, likes the same music as Jamila, understands and is interested in her, no facial hair, tall, has good facial structure (and no crinkles under the eyes when they smile).

Does your best friend like loud music or music that is at a reasonable level?

I mean let’s be fair, Jamila is a heavy metal/post punk/gothic rock fan, her music is going to be pretty loud at all times. Sometimes it’s so bad that when I’m talking to her on the phone all I can hear is her music and I kind of have to strain to hear her even though her mouth is directly next to the phone and her music is not. I never know whether to tell her to turn it down… eventually she realises and turns it down and it clearly hasn’t affected our relationship so who really cares?

What does your best friend think about the most?

To be honest, because Jamila is such an interesting person I don’t know what she thinks about the most. I know things she thinks about a lot but not necessarily the most. I think she tends to think about many different things at the same time and it’s all kind of rotating round her head 24/7. She quite often mentions having a fear of talking disjointedly in a way that doesn’t make sense and I think that this just further proves my point that she is never thinking about only one thing. As I said above, she always talks about things in a really interesting way so I guess she’s always kind of thinking about all of these things in a really intelligent way.

Describe your best friend in one word?


What are three things your best friend doesn’t know about you?

  • That I dry my hair with my head upside down
  • That I used to take my posters off my wall whilst getting dressed because I felt it was too awkward having them “watch me get dressed” even though they were pieces of paper.
  • That the Kurt Cobain ‘montage of heck’ documentary is in my Netflix ‘To-Watch’list.

Oh wow, that went way too quickly, however it really is a lot of words so I hope you’re still here! I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post and have learnt something from the insight into Jamila’s life and her personality (and of course read a post by her amazing best friend! ;)) I’ve really enjoyed writing this post for you guys and I’m sure we will do another collaboration for you as soon as we can!

If you did enjoy this post please give it a like – if you’ve come from my blog please stick around and check out Jamila’s posts and give her a follow (she would love it if you did!). Once you’ve done all of that you can of course go and check out my blog if you haven’t already – https://lifeofaninspiredteen.wordpress.com/ and make sure to give me a follow too – especially so you can read Jamila’s post on me!

I would like to get in contact with me for any reason please feel free to get in touch using my e-mail – aninspiredteen@gmail.com

That’s all for now!

Inspired Teen 🙂

A Band That’s Actually A Gang

In the Spring of 2015 I first listened to the World/Inferno Friendship Society. I was fourteen years old and I did not realise how big an impact their music would have on me.

The song I heard was “Tattoos Fade.” It was sentimental and unusual. I did not know what the lyrics meant but I have a feeling I was more preoccupied with trying to figure out why the band had such a long name.

I now know that the World/Inferno Friendship Society is not a band but a gang. Gang meaning a lively network of musicians, united by a shared philosophy, rather than a knife-wielding posse of hooded youths. I believe that knife crime has never been on their agenda, as they have always been preoccupied with setting fire to things. Which I believe to be a more satisfying hobby. Knife-crime can get messy. They consist of a rotating membership of over 40 individuals, and they are based in Brooklyn, New York. If you are wondering, I still do not know why they have such a long name. I am guessing it has something to with signifying the magnitude of the collective.

I grew fascinated with them, and not long after I discovering them, I found out that they would be performing in Camden, UK. It is not difficult for me to get to Camden; the prospect of seeing them live filled me with a giddy excitement. I had never been to a concert. In fact, attending a concert had been one of the biggest items on my bucket list for what felt like a long time. It was something I fantasized about multiple times a day. Naturally, the idea of seeing a THE WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY seemed like the grandest way to fulfill that item on my bucket list.

I proceeded to listen to World Inferno nonstop – even before I asked my parents whether I could see them. I also proceeded to call them World Inferno for short. It just made things easier.

(If I added up all the time I had saved by referring to the group as World Inferno rather than the World/Inferno Friendship Society, I might find that I had reserved 53 minutes of spare time, which could either be spent staring into space daydreaming about joining World Inferno or doing something useful like playing my drum kit and guitar.)

Nobody seems to be able to agree what genre World Inferno is. Answers include mixtures of Swing, Ska, Klezmer, Polka, Cabaret, Gospel, Showtunes and Punk. One fan said in an interview, “They are a punk band, but not in the music sense, in just the sense of the word ‘Punk’ – about not letting yourself be told what to do.” If I had discovered World Inferno with no context of genre whatsoever, I do not think I would immediately have noticed the Punk in their music – but I certainly would have noticed it in their attitude. You could say they are Punk because they do not adhere to the typical musical formula of Punk. One of the great things about the group is that they increase my appreciation of different genres. I did not listen to any Jazz or Klezmer music before World Inferno, but now when I hear those or similar genres playing I can enjoy them because I have had exposure to them through the group. You would miss out on a lot as a band if you stuck strictly to one type of music. Human beings are not made up of one identity. We change the way we think of ourselves on a day-to-day basis, and our identity changes in relation to who we are with and what we have had exposure to of late. I believe that any one time we have several latent identities hiding behind the one we are embodying. Most bands can be viewed in such a way as well. I feel like World Inferno embraces all its identities concurrently and therefore isn’t limited by the usual restraints of genre-definition.

My first real favourite song by World Inferno was American Mercurial. American Mercurial begins with an excitedly sorrowful pulsing synth-y sequence, which weaves into a twisting, tension-building saxophone line, rolling out a carpet for the doleful, mischievous lyrics characteristic of World Inferno.  I honestly couldn’t make out the words of the chorus, even after I had listened to it about twenty times. I find it hilarious that I didn’t realise that the main line of the song was “Little meteorite who wanted to be a star.” I heard it as something like “leeta mejearator a wan tabi a a shock.” Still, I enjoyed the parts I could make out: “You won’t get used to it, but you will live through it.” There was something oddly reassuring about that line. Along with the other lyrics, it spun a beautifully mournful, yet comforting, smashing, and grand sound unlike anything I had ever heard.

*Attention: You have now reached the average internet-user’s attention span cut-off point. Keep reading to find out my take on the point of life, and learn what a Temporary Autonomous Zone is.*

That brings me to why I love World Inferno.

World Inferno’s music makes me feel like I have the license to attempt anything. Everything will turn out fine because I’m doing what I want to do, and if things don’t go quite to plan then that’s okay because that has to happen sometimes: things will always work out in the end if you acknowledge your situation and keep doing what you want to do.

Things will work out.

Bad decisions may lead to awful situations, but as long as you stick to your view of the world, things will always, always work out. Never stop having fun or doing things the way you feel is right. Be reckless. It’s okay to feel the way you do. It’s okay to be the person you are.

Things will work out.

As the lead singer, Jack Terricloth puts it, “Everything is gonna be okay even though everything is terrible.” He also says, “Life is good. The future is unwritten. Live it up while you can.”

And as one Infernite (which is the name for a hardcore fan of World Inferno) puts it, “The lyrics have this sense of ‘We’re going to break everything and it’s going to be okay.’ And there’s this joy in destruction. And it’s a freedom because there’s joy in destruction because you can break everything and you don’t have to put too much hope of faith or trust in anything because there will always be something else.”

I agree with that. Sometimes when you embrace a situation you cannot change you realise that there is more freedom in it than you thought there was. You do not have to fear destruction any longer – instead, you willfully take part in it – and in taking part in it, you let go of your fear of it. It is through this release that you discover a new perspective.

When I say destruction I refer not only physical destruction but the destruction of limiting ideas and false barriers. You may very well find that the act of physical destruction also leads to the mental release of limitations.

I also absolutely understand what Jack Terricloth means when he describes the music of World Inferno as,”The music of the joy of your heart breaking. With a riot going on outside.” World Inferno acknowledges pain and panic, and in acknowledging it, turns it into joy and excitement. There will always be a riot going on outside.

In my opinion, the most important aspect of World Inferno is the absolute rejection of boringness. They create a space where reality and fiction meld, and real people have a chance to express the side of themselves that is as interesting as the fictional characters we read about – the side that is muted by the mundane society we are surrounded by in everyday life. World Inferno tells us that real life can indeed be filled with intriguing escapades. It will, if we just dive into it.

As somebody who frequently feels frustrated by other people’s lack of enthusiasm and ambition, I cannot say how much it means to me to discover a group of musicians who sum up what I believe to be the point of life.

What do I think is the point of life?

I think living, in its most basic form has the potential to be… excruciatingly uneventful to the ego. YOU have to make it interesting. Otherwise there is no point. Let us imagine for a moment that everybody in the world shared the view that it was up to them to make their life interesting. In this completely hypothetical scenario, we would all wake up one day with the realisation that it was possible to live as eventfully as our favourite heroines and heroes. We would understand that adventure is preferable to office jobs, and can be seeked out. We would be bursting with joy! Every day would be a new mission with exceedingly entertaining challenges and frolicsome occurrences. We would sing and dance and run around,  unable to contain our elation. How would we regard our existence but the manifestation of a divine gift?

Strangely, nobody around me appears to feel this way. When I say “nobody appears to feel this way” I am not pointing to occurrences of war or terrorism and suchlike, as those are things so  beyond my comprehension that I cannot attempt to complain about them. I am speaking about the more common seeming monotony of people’s everyday lives. Yes, I speak very subjectively; it is likely that it is only to me that other people’s lives appear monotonous. But I am still in awe at how they seem content doing things that I would find boring. Let me make this clear: I think office jobs sound boring. I think just staying indoors all day can be boring. I think going to the supermarket is boring. I think signing forms is boring. I think when your only source of fun is seeing your friends at the weekend or watching movies, then you are wasting time you could be spending in a more adventurous way. I guess that is what it is: the lives of most people I meet seem to lack adventure.

The reason why I say “other people’s lives” without including my own life is because I am 15 and have not yet had an opportunity to create my own life. It is not a judgement of people, but a bewilderment at how exactly they think.

I believe that the point of life is to acquire as much knowledge as possible and have as much fun as possible. I don’t see the point of us wasting time, when every minute is an opportunity, a blank space to fill with meaning! I have said this already in another post, but I will go into more detail here. I believe in making up your own challenges and following whims, as these will lead you to discover something outside of your everyday life. Ideally, you would not have an everyday life because life simply has too much potential for you to do the same thing every day.

To me, World Inferno sums up this reckless readiness. The World/Inferno Friendship Society are idealistic, and they acknowledge the frustration of living in a world frequented by people who do not share their enthusiasm, and the times when enthusiasm is not enough – the times when compromises must be made.

As one of the members puts it,”World Inferno is about the world the way you with it was – sort of capturing that moment and preserving it.”

World Inferno describe their performances as Temporary Autonomous Zones. For the uninitiated a Temporary Autonomous Zone is a concept written about by the anarchist writer Hakim Bey, that describes a space that eludes social norms and formal structures of control.

*You have now reached the attention span of the average reading enthusiast. If you’re really hardcore, stay to find out why I had a brain freeze and hear about what it’s like to see someone you weren’t sure was real.*

For a while I have had this dread of growing up and being expected to experience, what I call, a boring existence: That whole 9-5 groceries and paperwork no-fun thing. To fit in with people I do not understand. I have tried to hold tight to my own idea of what I believe living to be about, but there has always been an insecurity surrounding how possible that ideal is. World Inferno has massively reinforced my belief that I can indeed live the way I want to. They have made me a happier person and changed my life with their music.

Now, let me return to almost a year ago when I asked my parents whether I could see World Inferno. I still remember sitting at the table in the living room and dropping my request as unassumingly as possible. Remember, this would be my first concert.

To my surprise, my mother did not seem reluctant at all.

She said she’d consider it.

It was quite a few days later that we booked our tickets, after a lot of reminding on my part. As soon as our booking went through, I felt a rush of anticipation. I was actually going to attend a concert. Me, A CONCERT. I was actually going to see World Inferno. Me, WORLD INFERNO. I was actually going to see Jack Terricloth and Sandra Malak.

I did my “homework.” I read the history of the band – sorry, gang, on their tumblr. I watched interviews with them and started reading The Temporary Autonomous Zone, which I hadn’t heard of before reading their history. I read their Wikipedia article and watched “M,” a film starring an actor called Peter Lorre (whom they have written a whole  album about owing to Jack Terricloth’s fascination with the man.) I watched their music videos and looked up the names of the past members. I listened bands that they mentioned in interviews and made sure that I was able to match as many names to faces in the group as I could. I sung along to their songs in practice for doing so at their performance.  I read Sandra’s tumblr. I was determined not to miss any references the musicians or audience would make.

I would tell you about more of the members, but that would result in you not remembering who was who, so I will give you a very quick profile on two of the members that are at the forefront of my mind: Sandra Malak and Mora Precarious.

Sandra Malak is the bassist, and she sings as well. Here is her tumblr: smalakinferno. She is also an artist/painter. Oh, and she has cool hair.

Mora Precarious is the drummer. I love how she plays the opening to “Tattoos Fade.” Mora is recognisable by the pigtails and the hat she often sports (ooh, and that waistcoat.)

Remember that. Sandra: Bassist, artist. Mora: Drummer, waistcoat.

World Inferno dress classy, in suits – and often ties as well – which looks very fun. (By the way, owning a suit actually happens to be on my mental bucket list. I should add it to the bucket list I have on this blog.) When dressing for performances they keep in mind that every show is a special occasion.

Anyway, the day of the concert drew nearer.

I lowkey fretted about what to wear to it. It had to be something smart that would be comfortable and withstand any moshing that might take place (“Go in a mosh pit” was another item on my bucket list =D)

I messaged a friend for advice and revised the rules of a mosh pit.

I thought about World Inferno so much that I literally had a detailed dream about seeing them live, in which there were multiple supporting acts; I had a wardrobe mishap that stopped me from moshing and there was an intermission that I arrived back late from. What a relief to wake up and know that I had plenty of time to prepare for seeing the WIFS. Oh yes, now I have progressed to the stage of calling them the WIFS. (I wonder how much extra time I’ve acquired to practice music by that.)

It is worth mentioning now, in case you have not gathered, that Jack Terricloth, the frontman, is an incredibly captivating character. Half make-believe and absolutely sincere, he speaks engagingly in interviews and always manages to respond interestingly. He is a bit like an imaginary friend that is always there for you even when you can’t see him. What is even more agreeable about him is that he is a really nice person. Despite his mythical-seeming character, there is something immediately present and relatable about Jack. Maybe it is because of his mythical-seeming character. One thing I can tell you is that he is more likeable than any musician in the any of the other groups I listen to. For starters, he doesn’t have that stand-offishness typical of musicians in interviews. He never shows impatience at being asked the same questions; he just finds new ways of answering them. He always seems like he wants to be there. Any arrogance manifests itself as witty, youthful jauntiness. He does not seem like he thinks he is better than his fans. In short, there is something genuinely friendly about Jack Terricloth – something more welcoming than what I see in any other musician I know.

The day of the concert finally came. My mother and I arrived an hour early -just in case (because not only was it my first concert, but it was hers as well!), and were told to come back later. So we walked around Camden for fifteen minutes, bought iced drinks, and then arrived 45 minutes early. There was a lot of waiting around. Not many people were there. I was very cold. This was partly from the fact that I had just slurped up my iced drink so fast that I had a brain freeze, because the bouncer would not allow us into the venue with our drinks, and partly because they had some seriously hardcore air conditioning.


Thank you, Bouncer, for my brain freeze.

Once inside the venue I could not stop looking around at the other fans. There appeared to be very few of them so far (We WERE 45 minutes early, remember), and they appeared to be milling around rather than partaking in whatever mysterious pre-concert ritual I had imagined concert-goers to partake in. And then I saw someone who looked familiar. Any guesses who?

JACK TERRICLOTH. Well, it certainly looked like himBut was it? I looked again. I was sure… 99 percent.

I cannot tell you how bizarre it was for me to see him in real life. In real life. After seeing pixellated images of him on the internet. It should not be a surprise to see somebody at their own concert but to me, seeing Terricloth managed to be a shock; I’d expected him to remain backstage till the show started, and not to talk to people like it was normal. Despite what I said about him showing no signs of elitism whatsoever, I still can never comprehend the fact that musicians are capable of doing normal things. No, it was more than bizarre – don’t get me started, don’t get me wrong, but it just seemed completely and utterly totally bloody weird. It was just the fact that he was real, really.

I shan’t pretend that the fact that he was real did not make me slightly uncomfortable.  The singer was NOT just a google image made out of the pixels of light on my computer screen. Nor was he a spark of the material of my mind. This was the person whose voice I’d been listening to whenever I clicked play on a song by World Inferno. I’d read Wikipedia articles that mentioned him. He even had one of those mini profiles that pop up on the side when you search for him.

Each time I looked away I had to look back to see if he was still there, and still real. All the while, this Jack guy, of course, was just going about his regular everyday life, having no idea what impact seeing him was having on me. He was just talking to the bartenders, walking around the venue, checking on the merch table and things like that. All the while I was thinking, “Is it him?… Yes it’s him… He’s real… What if it’s not him?” over and over again. No-one else seemed as excited to see him. I didn’t notice anyone paying him as much attention as I was. “Maybe it’s a faux pas to bother a musician when they’re hanging around before their own concert,” I thought. But then I saw a fan starting to talk to him. And he was replying. In his distinctive Jack Terricloth voice! Just like I’d heard him talking in interviews. He was so bloody real that even his voice was real! Of course, I was “reaching my hearing out,” (which is the surreptitious equivalent of craning my neck) to listen to what he was saying. In the same way that I’d been grinning whenever Jack Terricloth (yes, Jack Terricloth! Jack Terricloth) walked past. I must have looked like an idiot.

I sound like an idiot.

After a while I walked over to the merch table to see what was on offer there. And guess who happened to be standing by the merch table? Jack Terricloth! I stepped forward to see the T-shirts and records. He looked in my direction, making eye contact and said, “Hey, how are you?”


“I’m good, thanks” I replied with a smile, but quietly. I would have spoken louder with more detail and included an “and you?” at the end, but I didn’t because there was a tiny possibility that he hadn’t been talking to me. Now that would have been SO embarrassing, if he hadn’t been talking to me, wouldn’t it?! So Jack Terricloth, if you’re reading this, I didn’t mean to be rude; I really was feeling wonderful (very excited to be attending my first concert) and I did want to inquire after your well-being, only I was worried that you might not have been talking to me.

He remarked to me and the people standing around me  on the items of merchandise that were for sale, which made them 100 times more interesting. I asked him what time the music would start and he told me it would begin at seven. I spoke with Jack Terricloth! He went to have a drink. I went back to my mum. The place started to fill out.

After the opening band, The Karma Party, finished their set, World Inferno got onstage. This was it. Mora Precarious began to play. Dum-da-du-da-dum-dum-da-du-da-dum-dum-da-du-da-dum-dum…
I could write a whole other post about the experience of the actual concert. In fact, I wrote a 4,000 word account of it a few days after it happened, but if I include that here this post will start to turn into a freaking novella.

I will leave you with this:

I sung along at the top of my voice. I danced which is something I seldom do, I danced amid a group of people I didn’t know and I knew nobody there really cared about the fact that I looked stupid. I went in a circle pit. Yes, I, Jamila Smith went in a circle pit; I ran around as fast as I could with a load of Inferno-loving strangers all running around as fast as they could, to music we all listened to as much as we could, to lyrics that told us that we could do anything we wanted. And I did feel like I could do anything, because I was at a World Inferno concert.

I could not believe World Inferno were in front of me.
One song that I did not know how much I loved until I was there, was “Addicted to Bad Ideas.” Those of you who have been following me from the beginning of the year will remember the song from a short post I did with a link to it. The main line of the song is, “Because I can, cause no-one can stop be, cause it makes up for things I lost. Cause I’m addicted to bad ideas, and all the beauty in this world.” Now, doesn’t that just sum up how we all want to live?
When the concert finished, I bought a T-shirt from the stall. The woman (wo)manning the stall chatted with me and my mum. Apparently she had helped out the WIFS at over 200 shows. She designs superhero dresses. She was surprised when I said I was 14; apparently I was the youngest person there.

Only Anarchists Are Pretty 😀

On our way out, the saxophonist, Rafael Calderon stopped to talk with me and my mum. That was one of the highlights of the evening! (Oops I haven’t asked him whether I can use the photo.)

My new Grudges T-shirt

That was Just The Best Party. I left walking on air.
My mother and I took a train part of the way home, and then walked for a bit, me singing “Addicted To Bad Ideas” as my ears rang.
I’d gone to a concert – finally.

I went to bed. I kept waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of ringing in my ears, and whenever this happened I’d recount the events of the evening to myself because I was terrified that my tiredness would make me forget them.

But I know that I will never forget them.
Thank you, World/Inferno Friendship Society. And you dear reader, thank you for reading this. You have stuck with me till the end. I applaud your hardcore reading and your interest in music. I love you very much for it. I intend to do many blog posts about the songs of World Inferno, as there is so much to say about them.
Do give World Inferno a listen for me. You might just find your life changed.

A Day in The Life of an Unschooler

I am sitting on my bed in front of my computer, which is resting on a chest of drawers that doubles as my bedside table. My mother told me yesterday that sitting less than twenty centimeters away from your computer is bad. It can make you especially susceptible to cancer, she said. Something to do with radiation. I will have to look that up. My back is slouched. That is also bad. It is slightly uncomfortable and, apparently, can prevent your spine from setting straight if done excessively in your formative years. I keep telling myself to straighten up, but this takes effort and is also slightly uncomfortable, so I opt for the easier option: slouching. I will sit up straight later on at dinner.

Speaking of which, I am hungry now. I can hear the clashing of pots and pans in the kitchen. I believe that is a signal that dinner is being made. From the sound of it, my father is cooking. I know it’s him because firstly, he slams things and works with a speed and urgency I believe is unnecessary; the dishes sound as if they are being bashed against the counter and the chopping of carrots resounds throughout the house like a series of distant executions. Secondly, my mother’s voice is closer to here than it is to the kitchen, so I know that she cannot be in there cooking. I have a feeling I should be offering to help. I will go to help.

I offered to help and was told to put away my clothes instead.

I put away my clothes. I had some mild and some not-so-mild digs made at me. I had dinner, which was rice noodles fried with vegetables. (I think I forgot to sit up straight!) I re-watched a film with my family called A Long Way Down. It is about four strangers who become acquainted with one another on New Year’s Eve at the top a building they plan to jump off.

This morning I went for a run. It was not a satisfying run because it mostly consisted of short self-conscious stretches of running interspersed with long self-conscious stretches of walking. However, it was a start to an attempt at fitness. It gave me a vague feeling of achievement.

The next thing of relevance that I did was copywork. Now, copywork, for those unacquainted, is a writing exercise where you copy passages from good books to improve your writing. The idea is that the grammar, punctuation and sentence structure get embedded into your brain, and you naturally widen your vocabulary. It is something I actually find quite fun. This is why: I only copy from things that interest me.

After that, I had a phone conversation with my friend. We discussed birthdays, reading and the POSSIBILITY of an upcoming trip to Paris. We both have our birthdays in the next few months. She says, “If you can’t do something exciting on your birthday, then do something vaguely exciting.”

How The Sun Can Be Depressing

I sometimes find very sunny days depressing. I have mentioned this in passing to friends and been met with incredulous whys. These reactions surprise me because I do not see my response to such weather as strange. I have, however been led to question what exactly it is about sunny days that makes me feel so down.

It is not that I have nothing fun to do. It is not that I have nobody to spend sunny days with. It is not that I am indoors rather than outdoors enjoying the sun.

I do not feel like I am missing out.

Neither do I feel some kind of spiteful displeasure at other people’s happiness.

The reason why is because very sunny days usually happen when the sky is incredibly clear. This means that there is not enough vapour or dust floating around in the atmosphere to sufficiently mute the harsh glare of our star. Neither are there cloud formations to offer the eye some variation. All I see when I look up is a lurid sun and a massive expanse of blue. Just blue, stretching around and up for miles and miles. There is no ceiling, no buffer of clouds, and this makes me scared. When I look up I see a nothingness, and although I know that beyond the blue there are other planets and stars, all I can see is an infinity of empty sky. Infinity scares me.

A more physical reason for my dislike of very sunny days is the dehydration that occurs. Dehydration not only makes me thirsty, but it makes me lethargic.

Such is a mixture of fatigue and fear of infinity that lead me back into my house to dodge the glowering sun.

Immediately my vision is obscured by splodges of fluorescent colour that take longer than they should to dissipate. I sip water from a cool glass. The sluggishness has already set in. I find inside the house that even through the windows the sun has the power to draw out my energy.

Maybe it is human energy that powers the sun.

It is funny how I really like the sun at other times. It is beautiful when it shines through gaps between leaves and trees. When it shines through leaves themselves. When it dyes the clouds at dawn or peeks through the dust at sunset. The sun is the ultimate symbol of passion and power emanating. It is only in isolation, surrounded by empty blueness that it appears to be glowering.

Here’s Why University Isn’t Compulsory

One of the most annoyingly common questions I get asked when I mention I’m home educated is “What about university?” The majority of people I’ve met seem to assume that university is the only option. The truth is that not everybody is obliged to conform to the traditional path of higher education. Living in the modern world means  that there are increasing  and diverse options.

In university you spend about three years pursuing a certain subject. At the end of those three years, you have a qualification, the idea being that you will include it in your CV as proof that you have a certain level of knowledge. Your educational path is regimented.

Three years is a relatively long time to study something – a time in which you may change your mind about what you want to do. The idea of university is based on a very set view that your life must be completed in steps.

When people have finished studying, many end up with a conventional 9-5 job, which is another example of unnecessary discipline. Actually, that’s what they hope all this studying will lead do, and many end up without a job having spent all their time preparing for it. It is all fine if a conventional job is what they really love doing, but 1) do they really?; and 2) and if they don’t love it, or end up with no job, is it still better to have given 3 years of their lives following a path that someone else has designed?

That just doesn’t sound particularly fun to me. I am confident that if I did want to attend university I would be able to; I have both the intelligence (thank you) and the logistical capability (I’d sign up to take the entrance exam at a local school or exam centre) yet I can think of more worthwhile enjoyable things to do with my life. You do NOT need qualifications to have a job (you need skills and motivation), and working freelance in areas you choose gives you more flexibility.

Another university-related question I frequently get asked is, “What about GCSEs?” (In the UK, GCSEs are exams for 14-16 year olds, and doing 5 of them would be equivalent to getting the American High School Diploma). Because I am fifteen, this is a particularly relentless question; almost everybody asks it. It really frustrates me and it’s become such a boring and irrelevant question. Why should I have to explain the answer on command? Everything people ask relating to home education is boring and annoying for me to have to answer, actually. The reason being that people all have the same set of questions and I’m suddenly obliged, not only to explain my choices, but to justify them as well. The concept of home education is alien to most people.

The GCSE question in particular annoys me, because people that ask assume that exams are compulsory. When I wasn’t planning on doing GCSEs, I had to explain that I didn’t need them because I wasn’t planning on going to university, and then I had to explain that you don’t need to go to university, and then I had to explain why you don’t need to go to university, and then I had to explain what I was planning on doing with my life. I also felt incredibly alone in my choices because ALL of my friends were doing GCSEs, and ALL of them were planning to go to university. I did not meet anyone my age with the same plans as me until about two months ago. When they told me they were not doing GCSEs, I could not believe it. Suddenly I felt a lot less alone.

Most people who go to school take about 11 GCSEs, while a lot of my home educated friends take 5, as that’s the minimum you need to get into most colleges. I have taken 2. I do not plan to take any more. There were two reasons why I did these exams: a) I was interested in the subjects and felt that doing an exam would help to motivate me, and b) I wanted to see what GCSEs were like because all my friends were doing them.

The two subjects I chose were English language and Psychology. English language was the more difficult (and less enjoyable) subject, but it gave me more techniques and motivated me. Psychology was very interesting. It did get boring towards the end because I had to keep re-reading the textbook, and it got stressful because I had to memorise details, but I enjoyed it more than English. These GCSEs are part of the reason why I have not blogged in a long time. But the interesting thing is that it took only a few weeks to prepare for them. Yes, I put in the hours, but it was so do-able, so what is the big deal? We all can learn anything when we want to (and we also learn what we don’t want to learn because we learn all the time, even when we are not conscious of it).

Now that I have done these two exams, I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my shoulders. I no longer have to spend every minute of my day trying to study. I do not have to plan my life around exams. I can communicate with my friends. Hell, I can see my friends. I can actually have a life.

I have found that this experience of doing GCSEs has made conversations easier because I can avoid telling people that I am not going to go to university. When I say I am doing exams people just assume that I will go to university, so I don’t have to explain to them why I am not: the question doesn’t even come up!

Perhaps doing GCSEs has also made conversations easier for me psychologically. I have tried out exams so I can be more confident when telling people they are not for me. More than that, I understand what my friends were up to and no longer feel left out from this idea of doing something “necessary.”

You do not necessarily need to go to university if you do not want to. The whole point of it is to accumulate qualifications, and you may not need those if you’re working freelance, or you don’t want a traditional office job. People look for knowledge and experience, not just a certificate. You know, I’d have a profession that I actually enjoyed. Like being a musician. I’m quite keen on writing as well. I might publish a couple of books. This might sound flakey to people, but I  was not thinking of selling a couple of poems at a bar in exchange for a drink (I will accept that too though!). I meant that my aspiration is to do what I love doing and earn money from it. That will be my “job.”

What do I plan to do next?

I plan to follow my interests. I will keep playing guitar and keep writing. (Remember, I’m gonna be in a band and I also have to write a book). I can take my mixed-media art journals so much further; I am going to write more blog posts about how I did each page and what they mean to me. I have two camping trips planned for the next two weeks (I’ve actually just got back from Berlin and before then I was at an unschooling camp, so that’s a lot of trips I’ll have gone on in a short amount of time!) Yesterday we had two sets of family friends over, and the day after tomorrow we are having some home-ed friends over, so lots of socializing! I’ll be trying to get my Spanish and French up as well. Learning is a process that happens naturally from life. You cannot stop yourself from learning because the brain wants to pick up new information and utilize it. Whatever is inspiring and enriching in university, I am able to have at a greater rate, and I have already started. There is also something exciting on the cards: I am going to start a business selling dreadlock-style hair extensions!

I now have more time to blog as well. I have to say something to you: Thank you for reading my posts. I hope the people who follow my blog understand how much it means to me that they read what I write. Thank you for being here and showing an interest, and for sticking with me. Some of you comment a lot (you know who you are) and I really appreciate that. I enjoy reading your blogs as well and I intend to read them more now that I have more time!

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