Four Days! I Lost Four Days!!!

I think I just lost bragging rights to this blog.  When people ask me what I’ve been doing lately, I tell them, oh, you know, looking for a job, writing my blog almost every day.  Which would serve to indicate that I’ve been writing it every other day.  Which was fairly true.  Until The Dead Swan post. 

I thought I’d better write another post as it’s been a day or two since then.  Or more like four days!!  One of the phrases we all come out with, especially as we get older is “Doesn’t time go so fast!”  Usually in reference to how much a friend’s child has grown, having gone from nappies to after-school football, or the impending tenth anniversary of a wedding you attended which seemed like yesterday.  Another common phrase, muttered by the older generation (including myself in that, anyone 30+ is, let’s face it getting old.  Kids and teenagers and those twenty-somethings are just young and having fun), is “Life’s too short.”

It truly is.  My nana died last year, my last remaining grandparent.  She reached the grand old age of 83 but for her, life really was too short.  I remember how she would tell me stories of her time in the WAFs during the war, how she left her husband with five young boys in the middle of the night, how she wishes she had learnt to drive.  She was 68 when she suffered a heart attack, caused by smoking.  But you know what, she gave up the evil weed, and when she was 70, took her second ever plane journey, having been put off planes by flying in one when she was very young, I’m guessing during the 40s or 50s, before the days of the in-flight movie. 

So she went off on holiday with one of my uncles and his girlfriend.  My Nana absolutely loved it.  She wondered why she’d spent 70 years pottering around the UK on holidays.  After that, she went on holidays abroad every year, with my mum and dad, my brother, Baz and me, with my uncles. 

My nana was 80 when I told her that it was my dream to go and live in the United States, had always been my dream.  Which happened to coincide with my cousin, Naomi, telling Nana that she was moving to Australia.  Nana always used to say that it was us girls who used to write to her, she’d never hear anything from the boys.  I felt sad that her two granddaughters were going to be living the other sides of the world. 

But Nana told us both that we should do it.  That she wishes she’d lived abroad.  The way this country is going, if you can have a better life by moving to Australia or America, then do it. 

So Naomi moved to Perth, Australia.  I know it’s been extremely hard for her at times but she’s got a great new life for her and her two boys, of which my Nana would be proud. 

In January 2010, I went to the States to study abroad for a semester, as part of my American Studies degree.  I said goodbye to my Nana, see you when I get back, although there was a part of me that prayed that she would still be here. 

In March, a few days after I returned from my Spring Break trip to New York and Boston, my Dad called me on Skype.  My Nana had been in hospital since not long after I’d left for the US.  But now she was being sent home, because there was nothing more they could do.  Old age had finally caught up with my beloved Nana. 

The first thing I did was to book a flight home.  For me there was no choice in the matter, I had to see her, to say a proper goodbye.

I got on the train at Huntingdon, and spent the next six and a half hours on the railroad to New York.  As I took the Subway to JFK, I started to scribble down ideas in my notebook, for a TV show.  The plot, character names, the setting. 

When I returned home to Lincolnshire, my dad took my over to see Nana.  She was so frail, I had never seen her like that.  She couldn’t really talk too much, although I could see in her eyes that she was still taking things in. 

So I talked to her.  I told her about Juniata College, my new friends, my Spring Break trip.  I told her about the literature classes I was taking, about my favourite class, Women and Literature.  I told her, “I know what I want to do with my life now, Nana.  I want to be a writer.”

She smiled, and said, “I always wanted to be a writer.” 

The tears which have been building as I’ve been writing this are now flowing.  I miss her so much. It’s been almost a year since her passing.  I know she’s up there, looking down on me and my cousins, my dad, my mum, my uncles.  My brother, Baz and Emma, expecting their first baby. 

Life really is too short.  I always thought my Nana would be there forever.  Even if she couldn’t always remember what she did yesterday, she could tell me what she was doing in June 1954, April 1965, December 1973.  As though it was yesterday.

For all those who think I’m crazy, giving up my job, suspending my studies, travelling halfway across the world to see a band play then not even staying for the gig…you’re right.  Iamcrazy.  But I have 50 years until I reach the age my Nana was when she died.  I guarantee you, when she was 33, she had so many plans and things she wanted to do with her life.  Some of which were still just dreams, even in her old age.

I’ve already had 33 years of my life.  Although I may not be where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing, not a day has been wasted; everything has brought me to the place I am now.  Uncertain of anything except that I want to be a writer.  Just like my Nana wanted to be a writer.  So I’m going to follow my dream, no matter how hard.  Not just for me.  But for my Nana too.

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Powell 17/08/1927 – 27/03/2011

The Dead Swan

I feel so sad to be typing this.  Earlier today, I was walking along the river that runs along to the Brayford, when I saw something in the water.  I had to look twice; I thought at first it was a carrier bag, although it was too big.  Then I saw that it was a swan.  I was running late to meet a friend so I carried on walking, although as I did so I called another friend to ask if he could get me the number for the RSPCA.  I felt it was my responsibility to report it to someone.

I called various different organisations including DEFRA (Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs), the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, the out of hours veterinary practice) but was told that it was the local council’s responsibility.  Unfortunately Lincoln City Council had just closed.  Online I had found information suggesting that the deaths of single or more swans (and other certain birds) should be reported, to allow for screening of bird flu.  

As there was nothing I could do, I met my friend but when I returned home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the poor swan. 

Maybe it’s the fact that since moving to this part of town last August, many a time I’ve wandered along the path that runs down by the river.  There’s always birds on there; ducks, geese, other birds that I didn’t know what they were called and of course, swans.  Lincoln is well known for its swans.  Brayford Pool, next to which the University of Lincoln is situated, has many swans. 

I remember in the summer I walked along the riverside path.  There, to my amazement I saw a family of swans.  Daddy, Mummy and three babies.  As I used to walk along that path most days, I would almost always see the five of them together, sometimes just on their own, or with the other ducks or seagulls. 

Recently I have only seen one baby with the parents, although I’ve seen some baby swans, identifiable by their grey feathers, amidst the flock of swans on the Brayford. 

Maybe that is why I feel so upset right now.  I always felt like I looked out for the family of swans, to see how they were doing, how they stayed together.   

I don’t know whether the dead swan I saw was a baby or an adult swan.  As soon as I realised what it was I started walking again.  Kind of like when I see a dead cat by the side of the road; I couldn’t bear to look. 

I’ve done all I can.  I even tried contacting the council’s out of hours emergency repair number to see if they could advise me of the department I should talk to but no reply. 

I feel so sad that Lincoln has lost one of its finest creatures.  Like the beautiful cathedral that sits high up on the hill, watching over us all, the swans are a reminder of one of the beautiful parts of the city.  I for one won’t be able to walk along that path any more without thinking of the dreadful sight I came upon today. 

I will be walking down that path around 7:45am tomorrow.  Before the council opens.  It’s possible that someone else saw the swan after me and successfully managed to report it, or even removed it themselves (as was suggested to me).  If not, I shall be arriving at the Siren FM studios, ready to co-present The Midweek Drive Morning Edition as usual, but with a very heavy heart. Plus, no doubt, a tear in my eye.

I’m Not Ashamed To See Shame Nowadays…

Last night I went to the Odeon with one of my housemates to see Shame, a film starring current Hollywood faves Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.  In Shame, Fassbender plays Brandon, a young professional living in New York, who goes about quite happily enjoying his sex addiction.  That is, until his younger sister, Sissy turns up and moves in.  Then has sex, with his boss, of all people (played by James Badge Dale, Jack Bauer’s partner, Chase, in 24, who had a relationship with Jack’s daughter, Kim.  Yes, it gets complicated).  Brandon goes from being a laid-back sex-aholic, to a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, going to real extremes to get the sex he cannot live without.  Sissy, a self-harmer and damaged soul herself, is a constant reminder of their presumed harsh childhood.

What is interesting in this film is that it is full of nude scenes and I’m talking full frontals from both Fassbender and Mulligan.  But I’m proud to say that I wasn’t embarrassed, the way I was when we watched Romeo and Juliet (no, not the Leo & Claire version, this was earlier in the 90s) in my English class in comprehensive school.  The only part I remember of the film is when Juliet got her boobs out, which, as a very shy 13-year-old, I was hugely mortified to be watching in a class full of my peers, although all the boys loved it.

This is something I should list as one of my accomplishments: Jodie Orton does not get embarrassed at seeing films with nudity any more.  Other achievements by The Girl Least Likely To Co-Host A Radio Show: co-hosts a radio show, co-founded and coordinated MAPS (the Mature and Postgraduate Students group at the University of Lincoln), can fly to far-away countries on her own, can even go to the shop on her own. 

The last one is important.  For many years during my twenties, I hated to go places by myself.  Even if I had to nip to the co-op for coke or chocolate (see previous blog), having to go on my own would be torture.  Yet when I lived in London as a 19-year-old, I used to go to the cinema on my own (I saw Sliding Doors twice), I used to go shopping, sightseeing, even swimming, at King’s College, a university of all places, full of young people.  Scary stuff. 

I think it’s easier to be your own person in a big city.  For me, anyway.  To be surrounded by strangers you can be inconspicuous.  Here in Lincoln, population circa 85,000, I always feel like someone’s watching.  Probably nobody is.  But paranoia, the seeds planted during those years in comp school, and nurtured during my twenties, is growing all over me, like ivy. 

But paranoia, I’ve come to get you.  I have my gardening gloves (yes, my mother was right, in some ways) and my secateurs and I’m starting to cut away the stems that have consumed me for so long.  I saw Michael Fassbender’s willy last night.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it to the world.



Kicking the Habit

I just returned from a jaunt round to my local shop to buy essential supplies.  By “essential supplies”, I mean of course coke.  No, I’m not talking about some clandestine meet by the baked goods section where I pay some dude for a bag of something I shouldn’t.  I’m talking about the liquid stuff.  My name is Jodie, and I’m a coke-aholic. 

One thing I always have in my fridge is coke.  It may be bare of all else, but there will always be a bottle of the hard stuff.  Today, I bought two bottles of Pepsi Max, on offer two for £2.50.  Diet Coke was on offer too; two for £3.00.  So  I saved myself 50p.  Every penny counts when you have very little. 

I arrived home, poured myself a glass (well, half a glass.  I’ll pour more when it’s chilled).  Then I laughed at myself.  I’d walked to the shop, probably only a three-minute walk from my house, and bought drink.  On the table at home was the shopping list I’d made earlier: bread, cheese, beans, red onion, peppers, Quorn (I’m not a veggie, it’s just cheaper than chicken), sausage, bacon, pasta, pasta sauce, tomato puree, soy sauce and Branston fruity sauce (I had it at a friend’s the other day and it’s yummy).  So here I was with something to drink, but the prospect of what to have for dinner lay ahead of me, my stomach rumbling at the thought of food. 

I have lost count of the times I’ve walked to the shop and returned with coke, maybe milk, usually chocolate.  But little in the way of proper food.  As Roz, Frasier’s producer in the hit TV show, said about her impending unplanned pregnancy, “Milk is a staple.  I let a staple go bad.  Good mothers don’t let staples go bad!”

I could just as easily say, “Food is a staple.  I don’t buy staples.  Good mothers buy staples for their kids!”  I am of child-bearing age (or possibly even heading towards the end of my child-bearing abilities) but how could I expect to look after someone else when I can barely take care of myself?  I mean, I make sure I have coke when I need it.  So I guess when a baby needed milk I’d could manage to make sure it didn’t go thirsty. 

Before you guys start to get worried, I’m not having a baby.  I’m just theorising.  At a time in my life when my friends have kids, are thinking about having more, my brother, Baz and his girlfriend, Emma are having their first, I am nowhere near the right time in my life to have children.  One of my friends recently told me she’d capped her age limit for a second child at 36 (she’s 34).  I’ll be 34 exactly 5 months today.  Doesn’t leave much time for having one baby, let alone any more. 

I know it’s acceptable for women to have babies into their 40s these days, especially when they’ve been working towards a career, or been trying for a long time.  It’s far less acceptable, although it does happen, for women to have babies in one hand, and a Zimmer frame in the other.  We all remember the woman from a few years ago, a child psychologist of all things, who with her slightly younger husband of 60 years, had a baby at the age of 62.  At a time when they should have been sailing around the world on cruises and entering their garden into the village’s Best Garden competition (sorry, am I being stereotypical?) they decided to travel to the Soviet Union for fertility treatment.  They believed they were doing nothing wrong; they were both fit and healthy and were confident they could meet the child’s needs, including having younger friends to act as surrogates should something happen to them.  Interestingly I couldn’t find out on Google how young JJ, who would be six years old now, and his 68-year-old mother and 66-year-old father are doing. 

At my current age of 33, I’m lucky to be blessed with a near-silent biological clock.  I know it’s always there, but I can barely hear it ticking.  Maybe because my mind has actually done something sensible for once and accepted the fact that there is currently no way for me to have a baby, therefore it’s keeping quiet, giving me time to focus on other things, like a career (or in fact, what the hell to do with my life).  For this I am grateful.  I am desperate to be loved, I admit that, but I’m not desperate for a child, like other single women my age, although I definitely want to be a mother, one day, when the time is right. 

So back to the Coke addiction.  When I’m doing something in life that perhaps I shouldn’t be, I tend to justify it by saying it could be a hell of a lot worse.  Like when I moved to London just after turning 19 (“I could have been a gymslip mum”) or when I bought a car on HP with my boyfriend two months after we met (“I could be a druggie you know”).  So I know it’s bad to drink so much of the stuff, but it could be cigarettes, drugs, alcohol…

As for the not-buying-sensible-food-at-the-shop, I’m actually managing to not spend much money and I’m living on a diet of what-can-I-use-up-out-of-the-fridge/cupboard.  Tonight it will be rice, with red onion, Chinese Winter Mushrooms and some leftover chunks of sausage from yesterday’s pesto, sausage & bacon pasta.  So see, I am doing something right.  I can cook for myself.  Almost every lunchtime and every dinner time I’ll either stir fry or cook pasta.  Note I didn’t say freezer above; I have nothing in there apart from frozen bread.  At least when I do have kids, they’ll grow up on rice and stir fries more than fish fingers and oven chips.  Maybe it’ll take having kids for me to give up the fizzy, the way some people can only quit smoking when their first child comes along.  For now, it’s the only dependence I have, with the exception of buying cheap, second-hand books.  I guess time will tell what long-term (if any, I hope) affects I’ll suffer from it, but for now, I’ll be grateful that I’m not throwing my money, and my life, down the drain of substance abuse.  For me, and my future offspring.

Twitter…blurring the lines between famous and fans

As you may have heard me mention, in the last few months I’ve become a bit of a Twitter-fiend.  My most recent discovery is that if I follow a ton of people, most of the time they’ll follow me back.  The number of followers I’ve got has shot up by about 100 in the past week; as of right now, I have 248 followers, no make that 249.  Oh.  Actually that’s another porn follower.  I leave them on there because it makes me feel better to look like I have loads of followers.  Besides, I once read a few tweets by one of my porn followers; she actually seemed like a sensible girl, one who I normally would have followed back, were it not for the sex website attached to her profile. 

So back onto Twitter.  Although I wasn’t Twitter’s greatest fan to start with, I’m now totally converted.  For me, and millions of other users, whereas Facebook brings you closer to your friends/acquaintances/old school friends etc, Twitter brings you up close and personal to complete strangers.  Not only that, but it gives you the opportunity to interact with those people high up on the ladder that is fame. 

One of the first people I followed on Twitter was @ThisisRobThomas, singer with American rock band, Matchbox Twenty,  recently named the top 5 singer/songwriter from 2000-2010 due to his collaboration with Carlos Santana on Smooth.  I have tweeted at Rob several times.  So far, no interaction, but hey, that’s ok.  What is interesting though is that I’ve found several guests for the radio show I co-host, The American Dream Team, on Siren 107.3FM ( through following @ThisisRobThomas on Twitter. 

@Mission_Hill, “wicked good” band from Boston, Massachusetts started following me back in November, I’m guessing after seeing I was a follower of @ThisisRobThomas.  I followed them back, had a listen to one of their songs, Backstabber, and was hooked within the first five seconds.  I contacted them asking if they’d like to come on the show, and on December 13th, we spoke to singer/songwriter Adam Jensen live on the show. 

@ThisisRobThomas also provided us with another guest, the lovely @junegirl0603, aka Jessica Latshaw.  Jessica became a YouTube sensation when a video of her performingAin’t My Friendon her ukulele in the New York subway, accompanied by a complete stranger (now identified as Quoom1) on congo drums, went viral with over a million views in less than three weeks.  Jessica became a firm friend of the show after we spoke to her on January 24th.  After multiple Twittering (or is it tweeting?! Maybe I made that up…?) with myself and various other members ofThe American Dream Team,Jessica was firmly ensconced in our hearts and during my recent trip to New York I was lucky enough to meet her for brunch.  She was just as amazingly wonderful in real life as she sounds on the phone!!  She’s coming over to the UK in May; we’re currently arranging for her to come and play a gig in Lincoln!  And hopefully she’ll be joining us on the show again very soon. 

The latest guests for The American Dream Team, also found via Twitter, is the crew behind American horror flick Six Degrees of Hell.  Starring Hollywood veteran, Corey Feldman and filmed in an actual Hotel of Horror in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, writer/producer Harrison Smith and director Joe Raffa will be joining us live on February 28th to discuss the film, which is currently in post-production. 

It’s not just guests for the show who I’ve been lucky enough to interact with through Twitter.  Being a wannabe writer, when I came down with a cold not so long back, I tweeted that I would feel much better for tweets back from my favourite living authors!  Jodi Picoult tweeted back “Get well soon” and Patricia Cornwell retweeted my message.  Today, I was reading tweets from Rex Pickett, author of the novel Sideways,  which was made into a successful film in 2004.  He was quoting replies he’d received from senior editors at large publishing companies, rejecting the book.  I tweeted back to tell him it was great for new writers like myself to know that a successful author like him had a hard time before he got published.  He replied to me, saying, “Oh, keep reading, Jodie, it gets worse.  That’s why I say to aspiring writers: “How low can you go & still turn on your laptop?””

I’m pretty sure there’s a message of positivity in there somewhere.  At the end of the day…it gets dark, for that you can be certain of.  No, seriously, at the end of the day, I’ve had some pretty low times and although I don’t usually have any trouble switching my laptop on, to check emails, Facebook and Twitter, opening Word to type a story or an essay was an entirely different story. 

Some people don’t get excited about talking to “celebrities” and don’t see it as a big deal.  For me, I love it and I always have.  I once met Dawn French when I worked in a hotel in London; she’d used the underground car park one night during an awards ceremony and came into reception asking where the door to the car park was.  My dutch friend, who was on reception with me, dutifully pointed her in the direction of the door.  Me, being completely gobsmacked at a) seeing Dawn French and b) my dutch friend, Els having no idea that she’d just given directions to a celebrity, ran after her and asked if I could have her autograph.  “Of course,” she said.  “Big Love, Dawn French” read the scrawl on the memo sheet I’d offered her. 

I don’t necessary want the fame.  I just want to be successful in what I do.  I want people to read my blog, my books and to get excited after meeting me.  I want to feel like I’ve inspired someone to follow their dreams, to be a writer, to travel the world.  The more I can interact with people who are in the spotlight, for a reason that involves real talent, rather than just pure luck or lack of clothing on some reality TV show, the more I know that they are real people, just like me, and that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for me to achieve even a small percent of what they have. 

So I’ll keep checking Twitter, at 4:30am when The Bish wakes me up wanting biscuits.  When someone follows me, I’ll follow them back, as long as they’re not a porn follower.  When I read a retweet I like, I’ll find the original tweeter and follow them.  Maybe one day, my number of followers will exceed the number I’m following.  But for now, I’m following lots of people in the writing/publishing industry.  Rather than putting me off that there are lots of people just like me, it makes me realise that everyone is just trying to find their way in the world.  Thanks to social networking sites like Twitter, I know thatSidewayswas rejected many times before becoming not only a successful book but a film adaptation too.  I also know that Raymond Chandler didn’t publish a book until his 40s.  But I also know that the world is out there, close enough to touch, to talk to.  Maybe one day I’ll be the one giving advice to new writers. 

One thing I am sure of though, is that some of my fellow co-hosts on The American Dream Team, ask me how I can possibly just tweet people and ask them to come on our show.  I reply, you don’t ask, you don’t get.  What’s the worst that can happen?

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s…Fulbright?

So today I had a little day out with my careers advisor.  You may be wondering if that’s a typo…does she mean carer/advisor? After my last couple of posts you’d be forgiven if you thought otherwise, but no, I’m definitely talking career, rather than mental health. 

I’ve seen her a couple of times during my time at uni; once, before I started my second year and was concerned that time was flying by far too quickly and that I needed some ‘relevant work experience’.  We agreed that Siren FM would be a good place to gain some experience on campus, and off I went.  At the time, I was still working and studying full-time, as well as working a full day at the weekend to save up money for my study abroad, which was looming and due to start in January 2010. 

Before I carry on, I will address this issue of working and studying full-time.  I was contracted to work 37.5 hours a week at the hospital.  In my second year at Lincoln, I had 7 hours class time, with lectures spread over 4 times during the week.  Add an hour’s travelling – walking to and from the hospital, as well as a little contingency time to make sure I wasn’t late for class – and I was leaving the house at 7am and getting home sometime between 6 and 7pm every night (it took me 25 minutes to walk to and from work).  In addition, doing around 7.5 hours every Saturday or Sunday, usually starting by 8am in order to be finished at a reasonable time, and walking around 6-8 miles a day, it left me exhausted with not much time to do anything else.

The point I’m trying to make, I guess, is that I did go to Siren FM.  I sat in on Andrew David’s show and had intended to sit in on my Alex Lewczuk’s  (one of my lecturers) show too.  But the day I was due to, everything became too much and very tearfully I told Alex that I just couldn’t see that I had time to do anything for Siren. 

The next time I saw my careers lady, around a year later, I’d had my study abroad experience, I’d started my final year at university, had a well established career with Siren, and was looking forward to finishing uni and doing Work America through BUNAC next summer.  Everything seemed to be going to plan.  But I hadn’t anticipated the gravity of one little problem.  I couldn’t concentrate.  I had no motivation.  I had a quarter of my dissertation done, but somewhere around October/November, when my coursework started to be due, I was completely unable to get on with my assignments.  But this wasn’t a new problem.  I’d had issues for the last year, even while studying in the States, in getting my coursework finished.  So, shortly before Christmas, I ended up suspending my studies.  Once more, after the new year, I made an appointment with my careers lady, this time to get some advice on what I could do while I wasn’t studying.  I had an opportunity to do some paid work coming up in the new year, so we talked a lot about writing, and the many outlets I could use to get more experience, including writing competitions and blogging, and the importance of having an online presence.  We also discussed Fulbright Scholarships, founded after World War II to promote peace by fostering cultural education through mutual exchange, which offer UK students the opportunity to study in the US (as well as giving US students the same opportunity in the UK).   She told me that she may be going to a Fulbright presentation at another university in February, and that she would see if I could come along. 

Well the job “opportunity” turned out not to be quite what was expected, which started off a chain of events, some of which you will have read about if you’ve read my previous blogs.  But basically, I went from taking some time out from my studies, expecting to gain some relevant and worthwhile work experience in the meantime, to my whole world crashing down around me, and my confidence completely shot. 

Earlier this week, I remembered about the Fulbright presentation being sometime in February.  I rang my careers lady, who told me she was going in two days’ time, and I arranged to meet her at the train station. 

On the train, we had a long chat about things (a lot about my life, but I don’t think she minded), and I realised how many great opportunities I had going for me, by what I was doing for Siren, and by my blogging.  By the time we arrived at the presentation, I was already feeling über positive, and ready to hear all about ‘Postgraduate Study in the US’.

After hearing all about the opportunities and funding available for international students in the US, to do postgraduate studies, I was so excited, I just wanted to go straight into a PhD!  (For those of you who don’t know, the average PhD in the States takes between four and six years.)  The idea of being able to do further study and research in the US, into feminine literature, gender studies, maybe even creative writing, everything I loved about my undergraduate degree, was overwhelming.  I saw the possibilities.  I saw the opportunities to return to the US, to study, to work, to write.  I saw my life turn into colour again. 

I feel like the life that spent so  long draining out of me, is being poured back in, like a glossy photograph, with colours so intense you need Wayfarers to stop  yourself going blind.  I am so excited for the future right now. 

There is a very tiny voice in the back of my mind, gently reminding me that when you suffer from depression, you’re prone to very high highs, and extremely low lows.  Tomorrow this could all be a distant memory, and I could be back to another PJ day.  But the louder voice in my head is that of my careers advisor, aka my Fairy Godmother, telling me that I can do it, that this path is open to me.  All I need to finish my degree is the right motivation; that to continue is the key to the future.  That there IS a future.     

I wrote a modern-day fairy tale last year, my first ever short story, called The Princess and the Epiphany.  It was this piece of writing that convinced me I wanted to be a writer.  In that story, the Fairy Godmother is there to show the Princess the way towards finding her career, and happiness, rather than just waiting for her Prince to come and make her happy.  I think I finally found my Fairy Godmother.  The epiphany is happening…

It’s The New Look Me!

Today I discovered something new.  I discovered how to use my blog.  Being new to blogging, I really didn’t have much of an idea of how to set it up, so I had picked a theme with a picture I liked, and started typing. 

Only tonight, after receiving a comment on today’s earlier blog, did I realise that I’d actually received 21 comments, not just the four that I had seen.  Of course, 21 of them were spam, which ‘akismit’, my iBouncer, has taken aside and kept out of the way for me, so I can decide if they really are spam, or if they are actually nice people who’ve been blocked for some other reason.  Most of themwerespam, so I deleted them permanently, but two were genuine comments.  One was from Sophia,who said, “Great post! It always amazes me how people can take time to write them. But to be honest maybe you should change the color of the texts? Sorry if I am being rude, just trying to help. Kind regards, Sophia.” 

Naturally, I was thrilled to hear that she enjoyed reading the post.  And I accepted my first piece of constructive criticism with dignity.  I’m a writer; not a designer.  This is why I opted for a theme rather than designing one of my own.  The one I had picked was plain white, with a header that showed a picture of a car in a tunnel, with its headlights on.  I liked the picture because I related to it; I am in the path of oncoming headlights, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel…

After reading Sophia’s comment, I examined my page more closely.  The white was very clinical, boring really.  I experimented with choosing a background colour, but this only displayed colour around the edges, not behind the text.  So I went back to the drawing board, and picked another theme.  This time, Koi, a pretty, peachy colour background with sprawly patterns at the top and bottom.  It reminded me of Chinese food, which is always a good thing.  I like it.  For now.  At least it adds colour to my page. 

But having a blog, so I discovered, which is basically your very own website, is actually quite exciting.  You can add Follow buttons, and Twitter feeds and all sorts of things to make it seem more like a real website, like the ones we know and love.

Ideally I want to have an original blog design, but that will have to wait.  For now I need to concentrate on the content.  For me, that’s the most important thing.  However, if Sophia, or any of my other 227 followers (yes! I have followers! Whoop!) want to make any more suggestions, please do.  I want to look like a local.  As though I’ve lived in Blogland all my life.  Not like a tourist, wandering round aimlessly with a map and a camera.  In fact, that’s what I want to achieve with this blog; some direction in life and a settled feeling.  Oh, and the ability not to look like a lost tourist.


The Power of Positive Thinking

After my pleasantly surprisingly enjoyable V-Day yesterday, I’ve actually had a pretty good post-V-Day too.  How is it that sometimes you just know, as Doc Brown from Back To The Future would say, that “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”?

After having day after day recently of having no motivation to do anything for the last few months, sometimes not even to get myself dressed (yes, I know, the odd PJ day is great but every day? hmmm), it feels great when I think about everything I’ve achieved today.  But before you ask, yes, it did include getting myself dressed…

So what have I been up to?  I applied for another job.  I sent an email to one of my favourite authors, asking her if she wanted to come on The American Dream Team, the radio show I co-host on Siren FM (, along with the address of my blog and a copy of my most famous short story!  Although she’s unable to give an interview with us, I am being sent a few copies of her latest book to review on the show.  Hopefully when she has a few spare moments she might read my story and/or my blog.   And I got some advice from her publicist, on how to get a job (albeit not so easily these days), in the publishing industry. 

I have confirmed guests for the show on the 28th February, writer/producer Harrison Smith and director Joe Raffa will be chatting to us about their upcoming movie, Six Degrees of Hell, starring none other than one of my favourite actors, the lovely Corey Feldman.  Just in case you’ve just gone ‘who?’, be glad I’m not there to roll my eyes at you.  If you’ve seen any of the 80s classic movies, The Goonies, Stand By Me, The Lost Boys or Gremlins, then you’ll recognise Corey Feldman.  During the 80s and 90s, he was one half of The Two Coreys with fellow child actor, the late Corey Haim.  Six Degrees of Hell was filmed at a the Hotel of Horror in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, the state where I lived in the US last year. I haven’t watched a horror film for a long time, mainly because it’s not good to watch scary stuff if you have to sleep alone.  Sunday mornings are good times to watch psychological thrillers/horrors, when the sunshine is streaming through the windows and there’s no shadow of darkness to play havoc with your mind.  But, I’m looking forward to seeing this one.

Also today, I had a session of life coaching.  Yes, I’m seeing a life coach (professionally, before any of you get excited and rush out to buy a hat).  He’s a great guy I met on one of my US trips, someone who’s had a difficult time too but has found his path now and is well on the way to following his dreams.  Now he’s inspiring me and many others to do the same.  The fact that he’ll shortly be in New York, doing ‘life coaching stuff’, means that I can interview him for the show too, another great example of watching people following their dreams. 

Oh, and I posted a comment on the US Embassy’s Facebook page telling everyone on there about The American Dream Team, which the Embassy replied “Hi Jodie, Thanks for letting us know.  Sounds like a great show!”

It warmed the cockles, as they say. 

So all-in-all, a positive day, lots of great things happening for the show in the future, and for me.  Yes, I know it won’t pay the bills.  But if it’s giving me motivation to do things, anything, and putting a smile on my face, then I don’t regret a second of it.

Happy (and I mean it) Valentines Day!

From last night’s post you’ll know I normally hate Valentine’s Day.  Last year was particularly nightmare-esque, but the less said about that right now, the better. 

But today I woke up (that’s always a good start), and to my pleasant surprise, I didn’t hate it so much.  If at all. 

Maybe I was inspired by the number of men I saw carrying flowers in town yesterday.  It seemed like everyone, even the security guard at my university, had gone out at lunchtime to buy their other half a beautiful bunch of red petals.  My heart did pang a little, knowing that nobody would be buying me flowers, or chocolates, or even a card.  But I’m ok with that this year. 

I haven’t sent a Valentine’s card either this year.  In fact, I’ve only ever sent cards to two people my entire life.  And received cards from one.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I kind of had a boyfriend when I was nine. He sent me a little hand-made card with heart shaped stickers on.  I treated him terribly.  For which I feel absolutely awful now, and I hope he knows how sorry I am for doing so. 

I was talking to my dad last night and he told me I can’t continue to live in the past.  He’s right, of course.  The past has weighed me down for more years than I can remember.  But now it’s time to look to the future.

I don’t mind being alone this Valentine’s Day.  Because I’m not, really.  I have lots of family and friends who love me, and whom I love right back.  I have a cat, Harry (aka The Bish), who I love more than anything and will always be my baby.  He gets a little exasperated with me sometimes, but I know he loves me too.  But the future is full of Valentine’s Days.  There is always hope that next year will be THE year. 

Tonight I have a date!  With The American Dream Team.  We’ll be on the air from 5pm GMT.  If you live in Lincoln, you can catch us on Siren FM 107.3.  Wherever else in the world you are, listen live at  We’re there for you, and we love all our listeners.

To all those, like my friend, Nicky Thompson, celebrating their birthday today.  Have a fabulous day.  Feel the love. ❤



Not what you might expect…

…with 12 minutes to go until the official commencement of Valentine’s Day.  If you know me, you will know I loathe V-Day, at least when I’m single.  I had expected to have a rant about it, but you know what, I’m actually feeling so positive right now I don’t really care what day it is tomorrow!

So today I applied for a job.  It would be a great job if I could get it, and I may not be experienced or qualified enough for it.  But it has me smiling.  At the thought of working!  I gave up my job in the NHS back in September, in a bid to concentrate on my studies.  Five months later, I have suspended my studies and two trips to the States later, I’m just about out of money.  I realise that I have no choice but to get a job, but I’m reluctant to go back to the “9 to 5”. 

For me, when I made the decision to go to university to change careers – or rather, start my career; I never felt like I had a career before – I had intended to continue working full-time throughout my studies.  I was unprepared for how intense working AND studying full-time could be, and by the time I returned from my study abroad period in the US last summer, I knew that I couldn’t work full-time, if at all, during my final year of uni. 

Having returned to work from my career break, following the five months spent studying and travelling in the US, I found that I just couldn’t settle back into my old job.  Hardly surprising really, after everything I’d experienced and the places I’d been.  My head, as well as my heart, were headed for the future, and needed no reminder of my old life. 

But, if you’ve read my previous blogs, you know that actually neither my head or my heart are prepared to give up the ghosts.  So how do I move forward without moving backwards?  One step forward, two steps back, gets you absolutely nowhere, except maybe miles behind where you started.

So here’s the situation; I need money.  Thus, I need a job.  But I don’t want to have wasted the last two and a half years spent studying and working towards that career that has eluded me so far in life.  How to do this without feeling like I’ve taken two steps back?  Well I’ve sent my CV and cover letter off to the dream job.  All I can do is wait and see if I fit their criteria.  In the meantime, I’ll see what else is out there, perhaps something will catch my eye that’s not quite so 9 to 5.  I can keep reminding myself that I WON’T be doing it forever.  And hey, a payslip is the most exciting thing in the world, no matter whether it says exactly the same amount every month, even though you check it anticipatingly, just in case, and despite the job you’ve had to do to achieve it.  I haven’t had a pay day since September, and I’m beginning to miss them.  In my old department we used to celebrate by having a pay day buffet.  Perhaps I shouldn’t dread getting a job.  Instead, I should look forward to having a pay day again.  You’ve heard about the penniless writer.  I’ve just been getting in practice for that.  But in the words of my heroine, Virginia Woolf, a woman needs a room of her own and money if she is to write.  I have a room of my own.  I’d better continue working on the money side of things.

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