My Relationship With Reading

I learned to read long before I went to school. My parents used to drive to our seaside holidays down South overnight in hopes my brother and I would sleep on the journey, yet I read in the light of car headlights driving by. By the age of 10 every librarian in my local library knew me by name. Yet since I started second year I’ve only read 2 non-academic books; what the hell happened?

As a child I was completely addicted to reading. I remember sitting up until midnight just trying to get to the end of whatever book I’d checked out of the library that week. My Dad would hear that I still had my radio on (because I was a weird kid that listened to the radio to fall asleep) and see my lights on when he was heading to bed, only to be met with the excuse of “I’ve only got a few more pages”. Sunday afternoons were reserved for going to the library and coming out with an armful of books, to the point where I was bored of the kids section and had moved onto the teenage section way earlier than was probably sensible. I loved escaping into a different reality and learning about different lives as I went, feeling as if I were worlds away from the very homogeneous environment that is rural Cumbria.

When I eventually got to secondary school I was suddenly made aware that I was a massive nerd. Reading a lot was a bit of an add on to the fact that I succeeded in school and was a tad of a teacher’s pet at times. For a while I flirted with the “yeah God reading is so uncool” thing and followed along with everyone else in denouncing books (which probably coincided with the emo phase I’m definitely not secretly still in). It obviously didn’t last very long, because I found social media and a whole community of people in Booktube that adore reading as much as I did.

But, since Sixth Form, I really haven’t read that much. I struggle to get through more than a couple of non-academic books in a term, which is quite surprising considering that a large part of my degree is reading, it just happens to not be in English anymore. In 2017 I only read 13 books. When I was 13 I’d have gotten through that in 2 months.

The thing is though that I don’t think I’ve necessarily fallen out of love with reading. When travelling I usually spend all of my flight time with a book in hand, and tend to take one out on my Metro journeys. I love waking up on a Sunday morning with a small workload and rain outside lending itself to lazing around in bed with strong coffee and a good read. I think the honest truth is that I just need to make more time for it, rather than spending the little time I have at home watching Netflix and oversleeping.

In conclusion: books are good and I want to read more of them in 2019. For some reason, I’ve pledged to read 40. If you want to watch me fail at that then you can check out my Goodreads, and if you’re interested in book-related posts; let me know!

-Megan, listening to The Wombats on Christmas Eve like a 15 year old anti-festivity indie stereotype

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2019 Goals

I wish I could say I hated clichés, but the reality just isn’t true. Surely if millions of people do something they can’t be wrong, right? (I mean, thousands of people elected a Tory government and they certainly weren’t right, but the idea fits the narrative of this post so forget the actual logic here)

Today’s cliché is making goals for 2019. I’m writing these out on the 2nd of January, as for New Year’s Eve I ended up choosing to go to a party with Alex at the last minute. It was a fantastic night and I had a great time, but unsurprisingly had a little bit of a bad head yesterday and had to wait until today to start on my goals. I feel like that’s not just me though, New Year’s Day definitely doesn’t count.

1. Complete dry January
One of my friends from back home has done this before and is choosing to do so again, and this year I’ve decided to join him. As a university student drinking culture is literally everywhere, meaning I usually waste a lot of time and money on being drunk or hungover, and I’m getting a bit bored of it. There are certain situations I enjoy more with a drink sure (clubbing Meg, you mean clubbing, because you’re far too anxious to do it sober), but most times I don’t really need to be drinking. I also have a lot of uni work due in at the end of this month (which I definitely haven’t started oops), so I don’t have time to be spending days hungover at the moment.

2. Run 10k
I’ve been into fitness for quite a while, but over the winter period I abandoned running completely. Back in the summer I was capable of running around 7km and was really building up to getting to my longtime goal of a 10k race. However, now I’m struggling to even do a basic 5k, because I’ve been neglecting cardio and opting for weights and toning work. I loved running when I was into it though, so I’m going to get myself signed up for a 10k race and start training.

3. Read 40 books
This is a very silly goal. In 2018 I read 29 books, the most in a lot of years. So obviously the most natural thing is to decide to read way more than I’ve read in a year since I was probably about 14. Amazing job Megan.

4. Stop buying from Amazon
Amazon are an absolutely terrible company. Their record on workers’ rights is nothing short of shocking, and since I finally got around to joining a union on New Year’s Day (really it was about all I achieved that day) I’d feel like a huge hypocrite if I kept supporting such a parasitic company. They’re also horrifically bad for the environment. I’m going to finish reading what books I’ve already bought on the Kindle app then hopefully find a new option for ereading, if anyone has any ideas let me know!

5. Take a photo everyday
This time last year I decided to post everyday on Instagram. It lasted a few months, but I soon learned that my life really isn’t exciting enough to make it Insta-worthy every single day. As a result I just stopped taking pictures, which is quite frankly a bit dumb for someone like me who spends half of their life looking back at old pictures because they can’t remember what happened yesterday, let alone years ago. So I thought fuck it, I’m taking photos for me now, the sillier the better.

6. Become a better activist by learning from others & campaigning more
I’m a bit of a lefty guys, it’s no secret if you follow my Twitter. At the end of last year I started campaigning for the Labour Party and I absolutely love doing it. It’s fantastic to get out on the doorstep and talk to people about why I believe what I do, and with the likelihood of a General Election this year it’s going to be more important than ever if we want to elect a Labour government. I’d also like to keep being involved in student politics before I head out on my year abroad, and hopefully get involved in the trade union I just joined. I just want people to have better lives, it’s really quite simple.

7. Practice my languages more
For someone who’s probably moving to South America at the end of the year, my Spanish really isn’t all that great. Or rather, I have zero confidence in speaking it whatsoever. I need to read and watch more in my non-native languages, as well as try and seek out more opportunities for speaking practice (I’m looking at you Amy, we need to reinstate cuppa & French/Spanish chats). I wish learning a fourth language was on this list, because after Milan and Berlin I’m absolutely dying to learn Italian or German, but I need to be patient and get good at the three I already speak.

 

I think that’s all. It sounds ridiculous to say this at such an early point in the year, but I have a good feeling about 2019. I’m in a very good place, and have so many exciting travels planned, which is all I could ever ask for really. What are your main goals this year?

-Megan, listening to a playlist entitled “Alternative Love Songs” (no, I’m not sure why either)

2018: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

We’ll talk about where I’ve been for a month and a bit in the next post, because before I truly start 2019 off on the blog I want to look back. I get weird and nostalgic at this time of year and tend to tweet too much and post too many pictures of what’s happened throughout my year. I thought the best way to relaunch my site would be to write about all of that, crazy emotions, highlights and lowlights included

The year started not with a bang, but a whimper. The lovely Alex hosted a fantastic New Year’s Eve celebration, before I went back to working for the rest of Christmas break. In January I got my second ever tattoo and saw my first ever premiership rugby game. My return to Durham included snow, Burns Night formal, and more Friday night Klute (if you know you know).

 

February was a very low month. It mostly consisted of walking miles and miles in hopes that I’d fix the mess in my head and generally struggling a lot. On the plus side The Feast of St Cuthbert happened, so I got a nice break from myself with added black tie, and spent a weekend seeing both Dead! and Marmozets.

March began with a breakup, and for some reason running back to the very hometown that was so intrinsically central to that old relationship in a snowstorm so bad that I almost got stranded. Looking back is so strange now, because I honestly think it was for the best and that I’ve grown exponentially as a person as a result, but it was obviously a difficult time. Anyway…. despite the sadness most of March turned out ok. I planned summer holidays with my friends, threw myself into Durham life, finally saw Moose Blood live and went to France on my final ever exchange. Before that trip I was struggling a lot with being back home and my identity, but after a social media break, immersing myself in French and meeting some fantastic new friends I began to stand a little taller once again. That was probably helped in part by starting therapy, and in part by starting to exercise and focus on myself again.

 

The last term of first year soon rolled around, a term essentially of two halves. To begin with obviously it was exam season, and whilst the exams themselves weren’t overly terrible I had periods of real low mood and spent a lot of time crying or sleeping. Not pretty, but it taught me that recovery is a process rather than a solution. In Durham we all stay around for a little while after exams, and I had such a great time! I had probably one of the best nights of my life at a college Eurovision party, saw Twin Atlantic, went to my first ever pride, visited Edinburgh, Cuth’s Day happened, we went to the seaside and I had visits from home friends. I also started this blog back then, something I’ve loved working on and being creative with ever since. On the last morning of term in June myself and my flatmates woke up at 4am to watch the sunrise together and it was everything.

 

This summer was chaotic, at times crazy, but downright fabulous. It all began with travelling to Berlin, Prague and Budapest with the best team I could ever hope for. After a week straight of work after landing back in the UK I headed down to Dorset to hang out with the same great pals. We enjoyed some rare British sunshine by the sea for a few days, and then headed up to Oxfordshire for Truck Festival. It was a bit of a beer-infused blur but I saw some amazing bands and got a questionable tan. I came home, got a recovery themed tattoo and went fully vegetarian because I’m a walking stereotype. I also climbed High Spy & Catbells, went on a good few nights out and took a trip to York.

 

I moved into my second year house in Durham a little earlier than most at the start of September, and I won’t lie, it was quite lonely. To solve that problem I quite literally ran away to Italy. I went to Milan for a few days on my own, and genuinely really enjoyed seeing a new city from the perspective of being a solo traveller. I also visited my school friend in Edinburgh (again) and went down to Manchester to finally see Halestorm live, after a lot of years of waiting. These trips were a good approach to feeling better in the short term, but my overwhelming memory of September is that of depression. Luckily, it didn’t last long.

 

Not long after I returned from Italy I started second year, and oh man it’s been good. I adore (most of) what I study this year, get to live with my best friends and love my city. I got involved in student politics for the first time this term, being elected LGBT+ officer of the Labour Club and helping with an NUS delegate elections campaign team, which has brought me a whole group of lovely new friends. I saw countless gigs, meaning I spent a lot of weekends in Manchester and nights driving to Newcastle and back. This term has definitely been the best one yet, and I honestly can’t wait to go back to Durham.

 

Since coming home between working and studying I haven’t really been up to all that much. I had a lovely quiet Christmas with all of my family and I just feel very lucky at the moment. I’m properly excited about what I do, (mostly) healthy, (mostly) happy, and (mostly) living my best life.

So apologies for the very long post, but 2018 has been a huge year for me. It’s had some highlights that I’d even consider life highlights, but at the same time has been a hard year in many respects. I feel like it’s been a year to progress, deal with things, and prepare for making 2019 the most kick-ass year ever.

-Megan, listening to Placebo (and wondering why I haven’t listened to them in a long while!)