Just Like Buses…

You know that old saying, you wait ages for a bus to come and then three come along at once? Well have you ever wondered what happens when there’s more than one bus? I’m not talking about the metaphorical idea, but the actual practical sense of there being more than one bus.

Today I had a doctor’s appointment, and instead of taking the train, I had to get two buses. While debating whether I had time to grab myself a free latte from Waitrose, I spotted the bus waiting at the traffic lights. It was six minutes early, which should have told me it wasn’t the 7:55 I had intended to get, but probably a late running 7:05 or something (since when did any bus ever turn up early? A bit like me).

I had to make a split-second decision then – run for this bus, or risk being late if the bus in six minutes didn’t actually show at 7:55. So I legged it.

The bus flew past me, and I ran. I ran like Forest. In fact I think I overtook him at some point. The bus pulled into the stop and I watched as the two people waiting got on. Then it waited. And I ran harder and faster.

I reached the bus just as the doors closed. Out of breath, I tapped on the door, and the bus driver opened them for me. Despite the fact I was totally out of breath, I headed upstairs, since it’s still cool to go on the top deck, no matter how old you are.

As my breath started to slow, and the bus windows started to steam up with my body heat, I looked at the traffic jam ahead. About three cars in front was another 267 bus.

The bus I was on was full of schoolgirls, which would have bothered me at one time but not now. The bus in front was also full.

After about ten minutes, the schoolgirls all got off. Which left me and three other passengers. Shortly after, they got off too, and I had the top deck to myself. As we drove along, and stopped at every bus stop the 267 in front did, the bus in front got fuller and fuller. I looked around me at the empty seats, and at the buses going past on the opposite side of the road which were standing room only.

It occurred to me that this journey was surreal in that I was on a bus, heading towards Hammersmith, in rush hour. And I was totally alone.

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Which is how it feels in life sometimes. You will take a different bus to everyone else, and it will feel like a lonely journey. You will wonder if you are doing something wrong as you watch the packed-in faces going by in the opposite direction. But having a bus to yourself, and not just a bus but the highly-desired top deck, is quite an achievement. You don’t have to go in the same direction as everybody else, you just have to have confidence that it will get you where you want to be. Eventually.

You see, the thing about being on the second bus, is that it will stop occasionally, to even out the gaps in service, as TfL so eloquently put it. Which proves that sometimes even buses can get ahead of themselves, and arrive early. So as you sit waiting all alone on the bus, watching the traffic pass you, and the other 267 disappearing on the horizon, remember that it is only a temporary wait, and that you’ll soon be on your way again.

In Brentford, I changed buses. As this was the first stop, I was the first passenger to get on. After a while, the bus filled up, except the space next to me.

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While part of me wondered why nobody wanted to sit next to me, the rest of me didn’t care, and carried on writing this blog.

I arrived at my destination, marvelling at how a single bus journey could provide such inspiration for a blog. But that is what this blog is about; being inspired by life, both its big events and its small and seemingly-insignificant things. If I can take inspiration from a red bus, then I am definitely tapping into the resource that I need to make my writing work: me.

Raise Your P!nk-Tinted Glasses…

During my Study Abroad period in 2011, I discovered what it was like to live in a Small Town.  I used the capitalisation, because, you have not lived until you’ve lived in a Small Town of America.  I lived in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, which is a land far, far away from the rest of civilisation.  The highlight of socialising there for me and my friends, who had no access to transport of any kind (not even any buses or taxis in Huntingdon), was the weekly visit to Memories.

Memories is a sports bar, which hosts karaoke every Wednesday night.  I had never done karaoke before, at least not in public.  I mean, plenty of times, at home in the safety of my living room, could I be found beating PlayStation’s SingStar at its own game.  But to get up in front of strangers and sing, that is something completely different.

While I wasn’t the age of most other students at Juniata College, my time there can definitely be attributed to a coming of age.  Juniata was full of firsts for me; the place I first wrote anything that wasn’t an email or an essay (and what would eventually become this blog), the first time I ever got bollocked for drinking in public (on campus! at the age of 31! America sort your drinking laws out…) and the first time I slept with someone more than 13 years my junior…

Memories, ah….ahem, back to Memories the sports bar and Wednesday night karaoke.  While James Blunt’s 1973 became quite an anthem for me and my friends, Smooth by Santana featuring the lovely Rob Thomas became my favourite karaoke tune.  The song that will always remind me of Memories though is Raise Your Glass, by P!nk.  It’s a song for outcasts everywhere, a celebration of those who don’t fit into society’s place for them.

I have always seen myself as an outsider, and while there was an element of me being different from everyone else, I think for the first time in my life I didn’t mind.  I knew that I was well on my journey in life, and that I would enjoy its ups and downs, with those who chose to come along with me. Many of those had chosen to take further study, or travel the world, because, like me, Life hadn’t offered them the relationship, the children, the house, the car. They sought the future, like me, through rose-tinted glasses. Always looking for that guiding light to show them the way.

University, incorporating my Study Abroad period, was where my friendship ring truly went international.  At the University of Lincoln, I ran a group called MAPS (Mature and Postgraduate Students) which is where I met many students similar to my age and older, both British and international. Working in a London hotel at the age of 19, and working in a hospital meant that I had always been surrounded by people from different cultures and backgrounds, but it was at university where I really got to know people from different nationalities. While everyone has different issues, beliefs, ways of seeing the world, at the core, we are all just on the same path, wanting to carve a way through life with the support of those around us, be they friends or lovers. I am lucky to not only have the support of my family and my British friends, but also my worldwide family.

While I will always be an outsider to the world, this is a place that I am finally happy to be in. So this post is a way of celebrating those that choose to sit on the outside with me, and watch the world go by. To you, I raise my glass, and dedicate this awesome piece of karaoke (lyrics included!).

P!nk – Raise Your Glass

The Power of Positive Blogging…

Since my Woe is Me blog post this morning, I’ve been feeling much more positive about everything. In fact, at work this morning I have agreed to give up refined sugar for lent. And since that means I’ll be without chocolate or sugar in my coffee for 40 days…I might as well blog about the experience too. It’s been almost a year since my first (and only) blogging challenge started, “The Twelve-Week Challenge”, chronicling the final three months of my university degree and the journey to where the hell I would end up after that. Well, here I am, in hell at times, some might say, but London’s not so bad. Like me, it just needs to be given a chance. So look out for the sugar free me…

Jogga-Blog No. 4 and 5: AKA The Return of 33andlostinlife

Out of all the titles you could possibly have expected me to pick for my first blog post in almost two months, I bet you didn’t expect to see the words “Jogga-Blog”.  In fact, this is the fourth and fifth Jogga-Blog combined, because my first London-based jog occurred on Thursday evening.  While afterwards I was most pleased with myself, the closest I got to blogging about the experience was thinking about it.  Well, you know what they say, it’s the thought that counts.

Today I was up early, so I decided to take advantage of the nice morning, before the heat became too overbearing, and take myslf off on another jog.  Once round the park without stopping this time.  I was most impressed with myself.

You may be wondering why it has taken me so long to write another blog post since the publication of The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 1.  I’ll do my best to fill you in on what has happened in my life over the last seven weeks, and from then onwards I shall attempt to keep you updated on a more regular basis.

I managed to find a lovely flat in West London, which I’ve settled into now.  My “housemates” are slightly older than me, but it’s nice to be with people who are full of stories from their lives.  I love listening to them talking, because it gives me inspiration for writing.  While this is the first time I’ve put virtual pen to paper in some time, I’ve been jotting down notes in my mind.  My little notebook that I use for my writing ideas got dusted off the other day, and I’m delighted to say that some of my ideas made it onto the page.  But I finally feel like my creative juices are starting to flow, which makes me happy because the pipes have been clogged for some time. Now though, that all my university work is finished, I can write for pleasure, without having to worry about deadlines, and I am thrilled that my ideas may finally find a place in the world.

It took me a while, but in mid-June I finally found a temp job, working in the Head Office of a high-end retail company.  The office is located only four tube stops from where I live, so the commute takes around 30 minutes door-to-door, which is not too bad considering I work with people who commute up to four hours a day.  The work is very similar to what I did in the NHS, analysing data, but instead of patients, it’s handbags and high heels.  I had a job interview for a writing position for one of these Daily-Deal websites just before I was offered this post.  While I was slightly disappointed not to have got the job, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that, for now, I’m happy with a nine-to-five job that I can do without having to stress out over it, where the people are nice and the commute isn’t too long.  I can get work on getting my finances back into a manageable condition, and use my free time to do what I have wanted to do for so long: write.  This job is temp to perm, which means it may become permanent in a few months.

You may be wondering why I bothered to do a degree in American Studies, if I was only to get a job the same as what I was doing before.  Well I got my degree results the other day, and I will graduate from the University of Lincoln in September with an upper second-class honours, or a 2:1.  This is reflective of the work I’ve done over the last four years, and while last year I may have been disappointed not to have received a first-class honours, right now I am just glad to have made it to the end with some sense of sanity.  When I started my degree, my life was very different, and what I want to gain out of a degree now is not necessarily the same as it was when I enrolled back in September 2009.  While I would still love to have the opportunity to work in America, I am learning to pick and choose my fights, and the opportunities for someone like myself to make the USA my home are slim.  What I’d rather do is focus on what I want to do, which is writing, rather than where I want to do it.  Days like today, where the weather is 26 degrees centigrade (79 Fahrenheit), and the forecast for the next six days is much the same, I’m more than happy to be in London, which is like a little greenhouse full of heat, where I can spend my lunchtimes sunning myself in the park, and the early evenings in the garden.

So I have somewhere to live, a job, and lots more time on my hands.  One thing I don’t have, is a relationship.  As you know if you’ve spent any time with me or my blog, that is high on my list of wants.  Right now, as much as I’d love to meet someone, I don’t have the money to spend on dates, or buying new clothes for dates.  But that is ok, because knowing myself as I do, it would be wrong to rush into finding someone, and people do always say it happens when you don’t expect it.  I can enjoy settling myself into my new life, and eyeing up the hot guys on the tube…

For now, life is good.  This chapter is still very new to me, and I’m very much finding my feet.  I’ve put on weight since my arrival, hence my desire to jog, and knowing that I won’t be able to afford to join a gym until possibly later in the year, I’m going to have to rely on my own resources and free exercise such as jogging and walking, in the tree-lined areas close to where I live and work.  By the end of September, I will have graduated from university, signaling the true end of the previous chapter of my life; potentially have secured a permanent job, and have made myself financially stable.  All the key ingredients for the basis of a happy life, on which I can build the foundations of the me I’ve wanted to become.  Please join me as the journey continues.  I’ve missed talking to you guys.