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Freddie

Why I Write a Journal

When I was younger, I made several failed attempts of writing a journal.  As a girl who read the Princess Diaries books about six times each, I would always keep them religiously, updating every few hours in painful detail and each try lasted a maximum of about two weeks.

Recently, I stumbled across an old diary that I thought I had thrown away in a fit of 14-year-old embarrassment the last time I found it and I was over the moon to discover it was somehow still in my room. I sat for ages reading every page, remembering my final days at primary school, finding it hilarious how jealous my eleven year old self was at not being cast as Alice in the Alice In Wonderland play. It was such a great collection of memories, no matter how small, and I found myself sending quotes from it to the friends that I had been talking about. It was also interesting to see how my outlook on life had, unsurprisingly, changed as I’ve grown up and the things that I’d predicted that were completely wrong- for example, my apparent hatred that I don’t remember at all for one of my best friends.

This inspired me to give it another go. I went in with the expectation of it lasting maybe a month but here I am four months later and I haven’t missed a single day and I can’t see that happening any time soon. For the first week or so, I nearly forgot pretty much every night but I forced myself to write something, even if it was just a few short sentences about my day, every single night and before long it became part of my routine. Even only a few months later, I so much enjoy looking back on each day and remembering how I felt, because even if you don’t go into details about your emotions every day, if you write down the things that happened, you will remember the way you felt and even more tiny details about the day that you would have otherwise forgotten.

Personally, I tend to keep my diary because I have such a terrible memory but love looking back at old photos and scrapbooks and remembering specific days with forgotten jokes and meals and friends, so I usually don’t write much more than a recount of my day. Sometimes I talk about emotions and all the big stuff but I tend to keep it mostly factual.

I’m no expert, I’ve only been going for a few months, but here are some of my top tips if you want to get started which I highly recommend you do!

 

Don’t censor yourself

If you want to spew out a spring of expletives to get your point across- do it! This diary is for your eyes only and you don’t even have to tell anyone about it, let alone show them. If something horribly embarrassing happens, such as a period horror story on your first day of work- something I am grateful I have documented now, don’t leave it out because it feels too real. It might make you uncomfortable to go through all the details of it but before long you’ll be able to laugh about it- otherwise, you could just briefly outline what happened and if it’s that horrible, trust me, you’ll remember anyway.

 

Make journaling part of your routine

Every night before I get into bed, I put on some music and write in my diary, usually at my desk because I personally have found I tend to write more then than if I’m in bed because if I’m in bed then I want to go to sleep. On average write about one and a half A5 pages a day, but never set yourself constraints of how much and how little to write- for example, if I’ve had a pretty boring day or if I’m just exhausted, I tend to bullet point a few main things that happened and leave it at that. Most days, however, I think back on my day in chronological order and simply write down the main things that happened.

 

Don’t miss a day

Once you skip one day, it’s so difficult to get going again and to get back into the routine of writing. I recommend, if you go somewhere and forget to take your diary, or you’re staying with a friend and don’t want them to read over your shoulder, open a notes page on your phone and write what you normally would write there and transfer it first thing when you get back to your diary.

 

Choose the right notebook

This may seem unimportant, but after suffering with the ring bound fox cartoon notebook I bought because it was the only one I could buy with the change I had, trust me, it’s important. I would avoid ring bound notebooks because the spines start to come undone if you open them a lot or try and transport them somewhere. My new diary is a composition notebook and I prefer it a lot more. I would also recommend getting an A5 size journal as anything bigger takes up a lot of storage space once you’ve filled it up and is a bit of a nightmare to transport.

 

Have a countdown

At the end of every diary entry, I have a small ‘tracker’ section where I write down the days until something I’m looking forward to happens and I also write down a song I’m currently listening to or one that’s been in my head all day. I find it satisfying to end the entry with something optimistic like a countdown, mine have included the days until my last exam or the days until my holiday, because even if the day was bad, you manage to end on a high note. I write down songs because I really like looking at how my music taste changes over time and looking back and remembering a song and associating it immediately with a period of my life.

 

Use shorthand- it doesn’t have to be pretty!

As much as I would like my handwriting to be calligraphic and my diary entries to border on poetry, they don’t. I unashamedly abbreviate your to ‘ur’ and there are a few hashtags in there for comedic emphasis (that I am a little ashamed of). This means you can get more down in less time and really, you’re the only one who will see it, so there’s no need to write in full sentences with correct grammar as long as you know what you mean. As long as your handwriting is legible, you’re good.

 

I hope you have found this helpful and if you are considering starting to keep a diary- don’t wait! It doesn’t need to be a special day, just get going and you’ll understand the benefits right away. Good luck!

Freddie’s Netflix Recommendations

Here are some recommendations for TV shows that are on UK Netflix and a bit about each one. Some are the typical shows you’ve either seen or think you should see- in which case I will try my best to convince you, however, some are pretty obscure but brilliant I promise.

Red Dwarf

One of the most charming shows I’ve ever seen. Originally from the 80s but set three million years in the future, the show follows a small collection of three, then later four, characters, the only ones still alive, on the spacecraft Red Dwarf. It’s so lighthearted and the characters are so very lovable and the stories make very little sense anyway so you can dip in and out but it will always have a special place in my heart.

The Mighty Boosh

Probably my favourite of all of these shows. Essentially, a surreal comedy with extraordinary story lines but with a good few songs and a crew of ridiculous characters, pretty much all portrayed by the same few people. Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt write the show and also play the two main characters and their dynamic and comedic timing still has me in stitches although I’ve seen it at least six times through.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp

Although I would recommend watching the Wet Hot American Summer 2001 movie first, the 2015 Netflix show (set a month or so before the film) is just as genius on it’s own. A cast consisting of Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine as well as Michael Showalter and David Wain, who wrote the show, and who are probably definitely too old to be playing 16-year-olds (and are very aware of this) make this surreal spoof of 80s camp movies unforgettable.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Either you’re sick of people talking about this show or you’ve never heard of it. This is the most recent discovery on this list but Rachel Bloom’s genius comedy-musical is not at all as cliché as I thought it would be based on it’s title. Her brilliant character creations are scarily relatable sometimes and perfectly reflected in the fantastic music- especially the main character Rebecca, the feminist dedicating all her time chasing her ex-boyfriend through ridiculous, yet hilarious schemes.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

A hilarious show, one of my favourites, about four friends and Danny DeVito, all of whom are completely terrible people, that run a bar and come up with senseless schemes for their own gain and will not have each other’s backs in any situation. Don’t dismiss it because of how awful and offensive the characters are- it’s the best satire on TV that, if nothing else, will make you feel a lot better about yourself.

How To Get Away With Murder

I always compare this show to Sherlock, because it really is that good. It follows law students in Viola Davis’ ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ class who end up working for her and also find themselves entangled in the murder of a local girl. The show begins with flash-forwards to (no spoilers, I promise) to VERY intense moment that is even more intense when you catch up with them. The cast are flawless and the show is so intricately thought out and well written- I couldn’t recommend this one enough.

Bad Education

The first series of this show is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever seen and honestly I think I know every word. The second season is great too but the third isn’t really my cup of tea. HOWEVER, the first series is genius. Jack Whitehall stars as a man-child who is teaching the most dysfunctional class of teenagers who end up going to an ink museum and having the world’s funniest sex education class. The jokes and timing are just brilliant and it’s definitely worth binge-watching.

That ’70s Show

Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Laura Prepon getting high in a basement in the seventies- do I need to say more? I won’t lie, the comedy on this show is funny but it’s not hilarious- however, it will keep you hooked to the point where you don’t care about the jokes, you just really want all the precious characters to be happy. This show is so much fun and will give you serious wardrobe envy- in my opinion it’s a must.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I think I started watching this by accident but I’m so glad I did. Our title character, Kimmy, was kidnapped for 15 years and emerges as a teenager in a thirty-something-year-old’s body and watching her navigate her way through the modern world is both hilarious and heart-warming. Quirky characters and satire throughout, this show is gold.

Merlin

I missed the Merlin bandwagon when it was actually on TV but a friend of mine forced me to watch it on Netflix and I really do love it. Endless magic and fun with characters you don’t realise you care about until something happens to them. The setting of Camelot is also so gorgeous and I could rave about the score for hours- this is a great one to completely immerse yourself in.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS GO TO:

  • House of Fools
  • Cuckoo
  • Hustle

 

Now I have two recommendations of shows I found via Netflix that are sadly no longer on there (in the UK at least) but I would definitely suggest you watch if you can!

Misfits

The most random concept you could possibly think of- a group of teenagers doing community service find themselves with various superpowers after they’re caught up in a storm, leading to various relationships and maybe murder? (It’s been a while I’m genuinely not sure- that’s part of the mystery). The sort of show that will make you laugh until you cry and you’ll find yourself quoting it all the time.

The IT Crowd

In my opinion, probably the best British sit-com. It’s about an IT department consisting of “a genius, a dynamic go-getter, and a man from Ireland” and their interesting, but hilarious boss and the goth who lives in their cupboard. The writing of this is exceptional and Richard Ayoade honestly makes it just as brilliant as it is.

Sonnet #1

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A Sonnet for my Symphonist ~

Songwriting you truly excel at,
But your talents are not there confined
It is the great strength of your friendship that,
At heart, proves the strength of your mind.

Your words, so artfully crafted to tune
Do mimic the song that my heart sings
And the world becomes brighter than the moon
When your fingers upon strings start dancing.

Your beauty, the cause of Helen’s envy,
Does strike me down with every glance
But when you’re away, and my heart is empty
My love, by you, I am kept in a trance.

I love you so deeply I could never leave,
Not ever, not you, my beloved Eve.

~ From Bea

fragments

 

#1, 12th february 2012

i think you must know
i don’t know how you couldn’t.
i’m trying to stay away from you for
ten
more
seconds
counting down in my mind so i
don’t
look
desperate
but you reach out before the sand in the hourglass is gone.

 

#2, 2nd september 2012

after weeks,
months,
of building my own four walls brick by brick
you knocked it down like a sandcastle
and we built a fortress together.

 

#3, 31st december 2012

with you
i forgot
what i used to be sad about

 

#4, 21st september 2013

i’m starting to find my left hand boring
i keep doodling
imagining something lining the knuckle on my fourth finger;
how about you?

 

#5, 7th january 2014

you were taken away from me,
not in the worst way;
but in the way that left me alone
with long nights and empty days
waiting for your phone call.

 

 

#6, 2nd october 2014

time zones aren’t the same as time travel
sleep comes easily to the strong

 

#7, 18th july 2015

who do you blame if no one’s in the wrong
but it’s all you can do just to get along?

 

#8, 12th february 2016

every  brick of our fortress,
our castle
was pushed down
and i don’t think we can rebuilt it
with sticks from the ground.

Hamilton Master Playlist: Act I Part I

Hello and welcome to the best Hamilton experience you will find without tickets, we can only hope. This is the first of a series of posts on our blog where we go through the entire Hamilton soundtrack and fill the gaps in between the songs with more songs that fit. There are some songs that will make you cry and some that will make you despair with the world. Honestly, the mix of this playlist ranges from Walk the Moon to the Beatles to Panic! At the Disco to High School Musical to Drake. We promise, there will be something you like in here. Regardless, we’ve tried really hard to come up with a selection of songs that fit perfectly with the situations and we ended up with a playlist with around 150 songs. So we’ve split it into four quarters: Here’s Act 1 Part 1!

Here’s two ways you can listen:

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the #art for the playlists

 

ACT I PART I

Alexander Hamilton

Castle- Halsey

And so we begin with a song essentially about wanting to be where the action is, knowing you’ve got what it takes, as our Alex has. Ironically, Halsey talks about an old man on a throne which is very reminiscent of the lovely King George III.

Talk of the Town- Jack Johnson

Alex wanting to be somewhere that things happen. I am realising how well ‘Room Where It Happens’ would fit here and I am now trying not to cry.

Aaron Burr, Sir

Revolution 1- The Beatles

The Hamilsquad getting mad at Burr being completely fake and this song completely sums up this situation perfectly okay.

Grow Up- Paramore

Mr Aaron Burr really needs to realise that the world will not be handed to him no matter how long he waits for it.

Lovely- Twenty One Pilots

Burr doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We all know he doesn’t really care. Also has the potential to make you cry if you ship Alex and Aaron.

Royals- Lorde

We do not want to be royals because they’re the reason we need this stupid revolution anyway. Also the finger clicking is very Hamilton. Fight me.

My Shot

Clique- Kanye West, Jay Z, Big Sean

The Hamilsquad are potentially the best clique of all time and they know it.

We Are the Kids- Walk the Moon

“We are the kids that you never can kill” unless we get shot. We all die. It’s history.

We Are Young- Fun.

I mean, Alex was about 19 so very smol. Also SQUAD.

The Story of Tonight

Far Too Young To Die- Panic! At The Disco

They are all very scared. Alex and Laurens (and the others. Sure.) sticking together through being very scared.

Friends- Ed Sheeran

For the hardcore Lams shippers. Aka me.

The Schuyler Sisters

Posh Girls- Scouting for Girls

The Schuylers were obviously very posh. Every aspect of this song applies to them perfectly please listen to it.

This Is What Makes Us Girls- Lana Del Rey

Sexism!!! Systematic oppression!!! (Side note- I read somewhere that some historian said something to the effect of “Angelica Schuyler would have been president if she were male”. I love her a lot.)

Spend Your $$$- Walk the Moon

Your perfume smells like your daddy’s got money…

Summertime in the City- Scouting for Girls

There’s nothing like summer in the city. I’m sorry for the Scouting for Girls overload but they’re great and their songs fit really well.

Independent Women- Destiny’s Child

Also known as Angelica Schuyler’s #anthem.

Girls- The 1975

Let’s be honest the Schuyler sisters know what they’re doing.

Let’s Talk About Sex- Salt-N-Pepa

Betsy put this on here and wont let me take it off. ((but its so Burr in this song like omg???))

-Freds and Betsy

Screw Sex Ed

In the UK, sex education is compulsory for children aged 11 upwards, so the majority of students encounter it for the first time in a very awkward, uncomfortable year 6 classroom full of bright red pre-teens. I don’t have fond memories. I remember sitting in a room watching a video that told me how my boobs were going to grow and that blood would soon leave my vagina which, being an early bloomer, both of these things had already happened to me, like the 1 in 4 girls who start their periods before the education system gives them a heads up. They told us sex was when a penis enters a vagina, taught us how to label both of these and we all went home at 3 o’clock. So for a considerable amount of my life, I was terrified of tampons because I wasn’t sure which hole they went in, was completely oblivious to any form of sex than penis-in-vagina sex and thought it was normal for boys to call me names because I was a C-cup when all the other girls still wore training bras.

This vital part of my education thankfully brightened slightly once I got to high school where, over the course of five years, we covered topics such as consent, contraception, STIs and STDs but again, that was about it. The teachers were adamant on making sure we knew the age of consent in every country we would possibly ever travel to but made no comment on the concept of virginity or offered any remotely helpful guidance on the realistic physicality of sex and how to actually do the do to make it potentially possibly enjoyable. In the eyes of the state schools of Britain, masturbation does not exist and if it does, it’s dirty and disgusting and certainly not something we should be doing. God forbid we talk about vibrators in the corridors because that, young lady, is a sin and you should wait for a husband.

Another topic the National Curriculum omits is body positivity. This may not seem directly related to sex education but with 94% of 14 year olds viewing pornography or explicit images online, students are exposed to unrealistic body images which can lead to all kinds of mental health issues. Porn isn’t a necessarily bad thing, but it is when this is the only source of information teens are getting about sex and their bodies and not having any way of understanding how impossible these people’s bodies are. Teenagers should be taught to love their bodies without the fear of being judged for being ‘so in love with themselves’ and understand that very few people actually look that perfect.

Something I remember covering at great length was sexting and sending nude pictures, which is a very relevant topic for young people today. We were told not to send nudes which, obviously, is the best way to stop them being spread around or used against you. However, the students who will continue to take and send these pictures were not told to keep their face out of the picture or move any objects they can be identified with from the background- important ‘damage control’. This information, which could help immensely to keep teens safe, was ignored because we were simply told not to send nude images and the teachers expected everyone to stop.

The National Curriculum states sexual education should not “promote early sexual activity or any particular sexual orientation,” which is perfectly fair. The age of consent is there for a reason, but this can’t be done by completely ignoring the honest truth that some people will have sex before this age and there’s nothing teachers can do to stop them, so why is sex education failing to teach us how to stay safe in a sexual relationship? We are taught little to nothing about rape and abuse within relationships which is sadly but surely happening to some students. We need to keep these people safe.

And as for not promoting “any particular sexual orientation,” again I agree that no teacher is shouting from the front of the class that heterosexuality is the only correct identity but when every single case study in class is a man and a woman and sex defined as a penis and vagina, it’s impossible to ignore the complete neglect and exclusion of each and every LGBT+ student in the room.

LGBT+ issues are simply taboo in sex education classes. There’s a lot of them. I’ve heard kids as young as about 7 or 8 calling each other ‘gay’ and laughing without having a clue what it means, because no one ever told them. There’s no way we can expect to abolish stereotypes and stigma around sexuality if students in school have no one educating them on how it’s completely normal to be attracted to those of the same gender or to not feel attraction to any genders or to feel like you aren’t the gender people say you are. Not only does this lack of teaching encourage the ignorance we are trying to lose, it also invalidates the LGBT+ students that can’t relate to half the sex education classes because that’s just not how they feel.

The National Curriculum allows pupils to be pulled out of these vital sex education classes for anything beyond the biological side of it, meaning some students are not even exposed to the little information the school provides them with. In 2013, Ofsted reported that 40% of schools needed to improve their PSHE classes, including sex education. The curriculum states the topics must be age appropriate, this is still completely possible. Perhaps the students giggle and blush when you describe how to safely put on a condom but there could easily be someone sitting at the back, who really needs to hear it.

By Freds

(DISCLAIMER: This is largely based off the personal experiences I have had with sex education in a UK state school and what is actually taught in these classes likely varies between schools. Also, the Mail Online article is very heteronormative but hey, the stats are there.)

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