Sunday Seven: 22 and a half

This week I hit 22 and a half, I know most adults don’t count their half birthdays, but firstly I don’t see myself as an adult and secondly I like using this as a benchmark to take stock of what I’ve done in half a year. I mentioned way back in January that I don’t like making New Years Resolutions, instead, I like to use my year birthday to birthday to see how things I have been going. So let’s take a look back and see what I’ve learnt in the past 6 months.

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You don’t need loads of friends to be happy 

Now I’m back in Basingstoke we don’t have as many friends around, but that really doesn’t matter. I still talk to Joe all the time, although it sucks I can’t just pop and see him. I also have Abbie and Ben on the other side of town. I have a lot smaller group of people that I’m in contact with but it’s really about the quality rather than the quantity.

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The pain of losing someone you love never goes away, you learn how to deal with it

A few weeks after my birthday I lost one of my hamsters. Although, to me they are my babies. Noodle passed away and it broke my heart, I still miss her each and every day and that never stops.

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I want to write, so I’ll goddam write 

Enough messing around, it was time to get serious, get planning and get on with it. We’ll see what happens…

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Having your own space is key to happiness 

We finally moved home! Having our own space has made it much easier for me to relax and have time to myself and Ali.

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It’s ok not to be ok. 

I have a problem with wanting to be perfect. I always have. In the last few months when things have gotten tricky I’ve had to remind myself that I’m allowed to feel tired or overwhelmed, that I’m human. So, I did what I always do and I wrote about it and it made me feel a lot better.

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Leaving a job that isn’t right for you doesn’t make you a failure

Back in November I left my first full-time job for a variety of reasons. I wasn’t happy there and didn’t feel like it was right. When I left, even though I had another job lined up, I felt like a failure because I hadn’t been there long. That said it lead on to bigger and better things and just because it didn’t work out didn’t mean I was a failure.

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Grades aren’t everything. 

For a good few months, I hid my degree certificate. I didn’t want people to know that I wasn’t perfect and didn’t get the first I’d been dreaming about. I hated mentioning it and whenever I did I’d follow up with ‘but I was only 3% off of a first!’ as if getting a 2:1 in literature was something to be ashamed of. I won’t lie and say it doesn’t hurt but at the same time my life was a mess in third year, to come out at all with a degree is fine with me. It now happily sits on my desk while I write.

2017 on chloemetzger.com!

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A new year and more blogs to write and plan for you all to read. I really had trouble tonight thinking of what I wanted to write, what direction I wanted to go. A few nights ago I asked those of you who follow me on twitter (@chloemetzger) who you would like to see more of on my blog and if you’d like me to write two book reviews a week (!!). The majority of you did want two book reviews a week, which is something I’m working on doing in this years planning. In terms of what you’d like to see you asked for more mental health related posts and more general lifestyle posts. I am more than happy to give the people what they want!

So far I post Book Reviews on a Thursday, Feminist Friday’s and Sunday Seven. Three regular slots that my lovely subscribers and Twitter followers know are coming. After hearing back from some of you I’m also hoping to add a weekly mental health post and more general lifestyle in between. Basically, I want to get a more regular schedule together for the blog and make 2017 really productive and positive year for the blog.

I’m really proud of how it’s evolved and how many of you that I get to talk to and interact with online. It’s because of all of this and the positivity I have felt from you guys I’m taking active steps to write my book. Yep, I’m not calling it a resolution for this year because I know that it could take years before I’m happy with it and I also know that there’s a chance it will never get published, but what the hell.  This blogs in its fourth year now and I know I can write long pieces from my dreaded dissertation, so why not?

Is there anything else you want to see or maybe that you’re excited about? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me!

Book Review: Great Small Things – Jodi Picoult

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“You say you don’t see colour…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.”

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father. What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us. It is about opening your eyes.

I have to start by saying that I have had the release date of this novel written down since it was known. I’m a HUGE Jodi Picoult fan and have been lucky enough to speak to the lady herself a few years ago when The Storyteller was released. Jodi’s novel is a particularly prominent in light of the violence we have been seeing pouring out of the US against black people, and how quickly things can turn nasty. I requested a copy of this novel from the publishers and was lucky enough to receive it in return for an honest review.

As with all Jodi Picoult novels, the story is seen through the eyes of multiple characters. Ruth is a trusted and hardworking nurse, she is also African American. Turk is a husband, new father and White Supremacist. When baby Davis dies, Turk wants the hospital to pay and to know why the woman he demanded not be near his son was present. Ruth is thrown into a world of accusation and uncertainty, can she finally face the fact that the world might not be as colour blind as she thought? Meanwhile, lawyer Kennedy has her eyes opened to the world in a way that she couldn’t understand.

Once again Picoult has chosen to write about a moral situation that raises a thousand questions. It’s something completely new to me to read from the perspective of a White Supremacist. While there is a fair amount of novels out there from the perspective of a black person facing prejudice, novels that I want to read and to understand. I never would have picked up something from the perspective of a White Supremacist, because I didn’t see the point. Why would I want to read about hatred? However, Picoult manages to show the humanity in everyone. She doesn’t paint Turk and his wife as someone to disregard because of their views, nor does she sugar coat them. I felt angry and uncomfortable reading Turks perspective, but I realised that this was important, because this is what people face. That said, Ruth is not painted as perfect either. While she is a model citizen, the widow of a fallen hero and loving mother, Picoult shows her reactions in a human way. She shows not only what people would expect of the characters, whether that be in a positive or negative way, but also shows them as real people who make judgements, mistakes etc.

That said, Ruth is not painted as perfect either. While she is a model citizen, the widow of a fallen hero and loving mother, Picoult shows her reactions in a human way. She shows not only what people would expect of the characters, whether that be in a positive or negative way, but also shows them as real people who make judgements, mistakes etc. While I understand why Kennedy was included as a point of view, she wasn’t particularly memorable for me. She added a middle ground to the novel but I didn’t feel particularly affected by her until the very end.

This is without a doubt an important modern novel, it’s been compared to To Kill a Mockingbird (one of my favourite novels of all time) and while I understand the comparison, it’s different. To Kill a Mockingbird had a clear right and wrong, you knew who was innocent and who was guilty. While few people would agree with Turk and his beliefs (and I certainly don’t agree with them) the emotions, thoughts and to some extent certain backstories make you unclear about all parties. Picoult has refused to show a clear cut good vs bad situation.

I gave this novel 4 stars. I really enjoyed it and I thought the concept was incredibly unique as well as very well written. That said I had mixed feelings about some parts towards the end of the novel, some I just felt didn’t fit (I wish I could go into more detail than that!), but I think this is down to personal preference rather than a flaw in the writing/plot. Picoult has once again shown that she is not afraid to confront issues that we might not want, or feel too awkward to talk about. She’s cemented her status as one of the most thoughtful and intelligent writers of the 21st century.

Great Small Things is out in the UK on November 22nd!

Looking back at University -I’m a Graduate!

On Thursday 21st of July my journey as a student came to an end. Yes after 3 long years I am now officially a graduate of Kingston University, Chloe Metzger BA Hons. I’m going to try and keep this blog short, because I feel like I could write a book on this chapter of my life alone. I went from a girl who was terrified of leaving home, to a young independent woman. I’ve gone through more than I thought I could enjoy and have had experiences that I never thought I would but I’m so pleased I went to university, I found out who I was.

The past 3 years have been overwhelming such amazing highs and very tough lows. I’m nothing like the girl who started, who was so anxious the thought of getting on a bus nearly sent her into a panic attack, now I’ll travel around London for work. I’ve met the Chancellor and had a good few chats with her. I started this blog, interviewed by various people, made friends, started a band, played all over London and the South East and released 4 singles. I’ve watched countless bands and artists and met some of my absolute heroes. I’ve also met authors, celebrities and inspiring people. I’ve won awards, became a society president, got firsts and two ones, become a Student Ambassador and in charge of social media. I’ve given talks on mental health and found my voice as well as a way to use my past to create a better future.

Of course there were tough times too the homesickness, the really tough times with my depression when I wouldn’t leave my flat or be around people for days on end, friendship breakdowns, breaking my spine and not getting some of the grades I wanted. Originally I didn’t post that I got a 2:1 for my degree because I wasn embarrassed. My goal from the first year was to get a first class degree and I missed it by 3.5%. I cried, a lot, I was full of self loathing, how could I not get that extra 3.5%? Then I spoke to a friend, someone who chose to love me rather than being Ali or my family who were proud whatever, who told me not many people can recover from a broken spine and be in hospital for IBS and still come out so close to a first. It made me feel a lot better. I put this pressure on myself and it’s one of my flaws. I wanted to tell you all that because university comes with the good and the bad.

My future has completely changed from that I thought it would be before I went to uni, hell it’s different from what I thought it would be a year ago, but I’m happy. I’m happier sitting writing this than I have been in months, because third year was hard. It wasn’t just the workload, but my personal life. If I’m honest I’m surprised I made it through. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting but I want  to be truthful to let others know that even when life gets so tough that you don’t know how you’re going to keep going, you can.  I haven’t you the space to write everything I loved about studying at university, but I did. I’ve got some incredible friends and memories from my time at KU and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.

So thank’s Kingston, you were great!

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Where’s The Damn Book?!

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I’ve been wanting to write a book since before I started university. I’ve always written stories and the summer before I moved (3 damn years ago) I was working on my first novel. I was going to uni to do Creative Writing and I was going to be a writer. And then I started the course. I quickly realised I hated the course with a passion and spent a year of my life being told my work wasn’t good enough by older people. It always confused me because people my own age and one or two lecturers really liked it but there were some that were just hell bent on saying I wasn’t good enough. Now I’ve never had the strongest self esteem, I understand creative criticism but when you work so, so hard to get onto a course to be told by someone who has never read a word you’ve written that you’re writing is bad, you kind of take it to heart. Well, at least an 18 year old who’s just moved away from home and who’s walking around in an incredibly anxious state takes it to heart. I feel better now that it was just her opinion and truth be told after I refused to be caught by her after some catastrophic writing she’d put online (claiming that anorexia wasn’t real), I distanced myself from her and felt a little better about my writing. People liked reading what I wrote online, so why wouldn’t someone publish it eventually?

I’ve kept up my blog for almost three years now and had another before that, one of the main things people comment on when they search for me is the quality of my writing. So why isn’t that enough? This time last year I’d just returned from Athens on a week long creative writing course. Everyone was there because they knew to some extent what they wanted to write and I did too, something that my undergrad course lacked. Again I got positivity and some really great feedback but then the inevitable happened and I fell out of love with what I was writing and then I was there with ideas. Great right? I wish. I have all these ideas but self doubt is crippling. I write something, look at it a few hours later and can’t stand it. I get anxious that I’ll make spelling or grammar error and then be seen as an idiot. It’s deep in my heart that I want to be a writer, I want to see my name in a bookshop and see my thoughts on paper.

I know for a fact I can do it and I will, right now though my head feels so muddled and confused. What should I write about? Do I work on the non fiction piece? Do I try again on that old novel idea or start something completely different? Am I writing for Adults or Young Adults. All these thoughts go around and around in my brain and if I try and plan I get even more anxious because WHY IS THERE NO MANUAL THAT TEACHES YOU HOW TO BE AN AUTHOR. Which is silly, there’s no golden rule, not curse to break or magic formulae to make sure people will love what you’ve written. I know all this and yet I still want to delete pages of writing or worry about ever finishing something. I’m hoping these are rational fears.

It may sound like I’m complaining but I’m not, I feel like I have so much to give but it’s almost as if it’s trapped in my head and just won’t negotiate with my hands. I have ideas every night before I go to sleep and think they’re magical I wake up after scribbling them down and wonder how the hell I’m going to make something out of them. I don’t know, I thought I’d have a draft of a novel by now and I know, I know books can take years and years to just draft and then even more to get published. I’m just trying to get out of this rut where I just look at the page in anger because it’s just not doing what I want it to. My biggest critic is now myself, but I think with the voices of others inside, from the past who really shouldn’t be there. So I guess I’m going to have to work on kicking them out and working out what the hell I want to put on to paper, that might be a good idea. Oh and I might find the bloody book in my head stored away somewhere just waiting to come out.

 

Image from Pinterest

The Freedom List!

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I’m so close to getting everything submitted that I can smell the freedom, on Tuesday at 11am it’s all done. I go out for a drive in my car and just take in lungfuls of fresh air, because I know that soon enough I’ll be back in the flat looking at a screen and an essay that bores me almost to tears. Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to try and get down my ‘freedom list’, things that I’m looking forward to doing once I haven’t got any more academic pressure on me. I know I’ll be moving and looking for work but it’s going to be nice to have some spare time again! To be able to pick up a book or go for a walk without feeling guilty for leaving two essays on the table! I’m adding to this list day by day but here it is so far!

  • Finish my Cosplay outfit for MCM in May – I have most of the pieces now I just have to put it all together and get a few accessories
  • Start writing my own book, finally! – I still love writing but it’ll be so nice to just be in charge of what I’m writing, take my time and not have to show it to anyone until I’M ready. I have a few chapter plans and some great ideas, can’t wait to get them on to paper!
  • Read for FUN – Ohh I’m going to shrink my TBR pile!
  • Start my Youtube Channel – Keep your eyes peeled!
  • Go to Richmond Park – this one can wait until we get some sun.
  • Get some good sleep.
  • Buy my Kingston Uni Hoodie!
  • Get my haircut and eyebrows waxed, feel slightly more like a person and less like a werewolf…
  • Go to the V&A
  • Go to Madame Tussauds
  • Play my ukelele more
  • Write whatever I damn want
  • Get back into a gym routine!
  • Go to Durham to visit Ali’s family
  • Find a new car (sorry Harry, I think 20 is the year to retire)

It may looks like a lot but there are no pressure with these, they’re things I can pick up and then change my mind, things I’m in control of. Although job hunting will be happening soon, I’m taking a well deserved few weeks off to recharge and just do what I feel like and recharging my batteries.

As always I love to hear from you, what’s fun on your to-do list? Leave me a comment or a Tweet!

 

 

I found the beautiful image on Pinterest by the way!

K.J Orr

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Sometimes in my life I get to meet some incredibly talented people. Tonight I got to go to a reading by KJ Orr, someone I am lucky enough to know. Katherine taught me when I was in Athens last year. I really learnt a lot from her and the others in the class and there’s just something about talking to her that makes me want to write. I came home from seeing her and listening to her read from her new book of short stories and just started writing myself.

We were told this book was going to be released last summer and I’ve been excited  to read it ever since, just because her passion for short stories was so evident even though she never showed us her work. I’ve listened to excerpts tonight and her writing is addictive. Of course I’ll be reading it and reviewing on this blog but if you’re looking for a new read you can buy it now, and I would definitely recommend it. Congratulation Katherine!!!

2016 on chloemetzger.com

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Now that I’ve settled into 2016, back to uni and in some kind of strange routine I can think about what I want to achieve on my blog this year. I’ve just hit 300 daily subscribers and I now have over 1500 followers on Twitter, if that is any of you that are reading now, thank you so much it was a great start to the year. It’s because of that I’ve tried to think of either things I’d like to achieve and do this year. I’ve whittled it down to just 5 things that I’d like to do.

1. Reach 2000 followers on Twitter and at least 100 more subscribers

2. Start a YouTube channel. I have my camera, tripod and some ideas, I’d like to try it and post 1 video a week.

3. Have regular posts, I already have weekly book reviews but I’d like to do a monthly feature on other bloggers and start ‘Sunday Seven’ my 7 top things of the week, which I’m hoping to start next week!

4.  Work on bigger ideas for posts, more in the lifestyle category.

5. Enjoy! I absolutely love writing this blog, it gives me something to focus on and I’ve connected with a lot of people through it. There will be changes and I won’t be a full time student come July but I won’t be stopping!

Crack – a poem

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Sometimes I write poetry, this image really made me think about the past year and where I’m at now. I started writing this after a really tough gym session,where I just felt my body let me down. Anyway, this is one of my few poems, enjoy.

One second was all it took,

Flying then falling

My lungs gasping for air

You cracked and you crumbled,

making me not as high.

Once I’d dreamed of growing taller, now I’d take it with no complaints.

You made my legs useless,

my summer a sleepy haze.

A city that should have been my playground,

turned into white walls and levels of pain.

Even now as I start to reclaim,

some of those things you took.

You can still floor me with a no notice

reaching out for boxes, the only hope I have of taking away my pain.

No doubt you’ve changed my life,

for the good as well as the bad.

In ways I couldn’t have dreamt of,

before their letter came.

I don’t want to fight against you,

spend my days angry and depressed.

But some days I can’t forgive a body that fights against me.

When I’m trying every day.

But I suppose time will tell,

and all I can do is carry on.

Slowly and pick myself up from the fall.

So far, so good

I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t too keen on 2016. Now I know that the clock wasn’t going to strike 12 and my life was going to change but I was wary about it. That said we’re a week into 2016 and so far, so good. I can’t say that I’ve done anything spectacular and I haven’t had a lot of sleep but that’s ok. I’ve spent the beginning of this year how I mean to go on, looking after myself. My only regret so far is that I haven’t been able to go to the gym yet because I had my implant put in Tuesday and it’s still sore, but hopefully I’ll go next Tuesday morning and start my routine again.

I have had a first good week though

  • I’ve got stuff done that I needed to get on with.
  • I’ve lost a stone so far and I’m closer to my goal weight for my height
  • I’ve had a lot of good ideas for creative stuff, I mean they usually come to me at 1am but ideas are ideas.
  • I got my implant redone on my own (braveness points up)
  • I’ve become obsessed with to do lists – not even sorry
  • I went on my first double date! Ali and I went to a local Italian restaurant with Ben and Abbie before chilling with drinks at home
  • I got a first on my Creative Project! I was absolutely dreading getting the mark for this back after having to completely rewrite my piece of creative writing it in a week but I did it and managed a first, a great confidence boost.

All in all 2016 is doing well so far and I’m hoping that it gets even better. I really want to work with my mentor how how I’m going to handle all the changes too and feel a little bit more in control and not let my anxiety and depression take over.