Thursday, 30 June 2016

June 2016

WHAT A MONTH

I mean, it started out alright I guess.


June (should) mean sun, and sun means improved moods all round. June is welcome here.


Got a new phone! Well, a new old phone. My iPhone 5c’s battery broke, the Apple store gave me a replacement, but when I got it home, and part of the screen didn’t work. So I got another one. Pretty sweet deal tbh. Although I felt weird about saying bye to the middle phone so fast.


Then it was Alex’s birthday fest (day 1). Lots of people, treats, games, and we got to see a hedgehog!


Alex’s birthday fest (day 2, actual birthday) involved long sunny walk, river swimming, and Planet India.


Lump and his owner Stina have moved to London. I’m really going to miss both of them, especially not getting to see this little friend on my lunch break every day! (Still am not very good at drawing him though)


Just drifting along, at this point. Everything felt nice. Nice music, nice ambient temperature, nice mood. Nice.


We’re not moving up north till January but I just can’t stop looking at Rightmove dammit. Dreaming of cosy warm houses with reasonable rent.


Despite hating football, I LOVE organising office sweepstakes, so I was put in charge of the office Euros sweepstake. But there were 26 people and only 24 teams! For a while I thought we might just add in a couple of countries that are definitely not part of the Euros, but for some reason that idea wasn’t popular ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I did a few anyway.


Went to see the Brighton graduate degree show. 6 years since my own show! This year was a particularly good one, I saw a lot of inspiring stuff (actually mostly in product design/fine art/fashion textiles as opposed to the graphic design and illustration shows). Enjoyed making this reminder of lots of the things I saw.


This was on the day of the Orlando shootings. Clearly, I was not adequately prepared for the constant onslaught of bad news that life apparently is now.


There is a possibility (although hopefully not!) that at some point me and Alex might have to share a room for a while. THIS WILL BE AWFUL and I hope it never happens. Too. Much. Stuff.


That day with the boats on the Thames. Quainter times. Bloody Farage.
(I've been getting really excited about painting this month by the way, in case you can't tell)


And then Jo Cox. This world right now. This has been so hard to deal with. What an incredible woman she was.


A couple of really good friends of ours, Jess and Ryan, are moving to Edinburgh, which frankly feels like a very sound choice right now, and I wish I was going with them. We had a lovely walk through Stanmer park before they go.


And then we had burgers, and then we said goodbye. I’m going to really miss Jess. She’s been a wonderful friend to me over the last 4 years or so.


We went to see Saul Williams. I do not have the illustrative skill to do this incredible man justice. On our way to the show, we got ridiculously thunderstormed on. Then an hour stood at the front of a hot room, utterly drenched, right next to this incredible human. I cannot even express how much I needed him at this moment. (Although to be honest I would have liked to go see him live again any number of times in the last week or so. He has the words we need right now. Go see him if you get the chance)


Justin got back just in time for referendum day! Justin has calming, reasonable, reassuring words. I needed that.


But the result. Dark, dark days. Honestly, June 24th will stand out as one of the strangest, darkest days of my life so far. I’ve never known such universal despair coupled with quiet panic. The news that day felt like the beginning of some kind of apocalypse. And to think that a substantial portion of the country's population were celebrating?! It makes me feel sick.


Life would be simpler if I was a cat. Met this friend while out on a long walk. She was hanging out near a bench so I went and sat on the bench and she came and sat with me, and we stayed there for about 20 minutes.
(Also maybe I’ve been going wrong trying to draw dogs all these years… My first ever proper attempt at a cat and it’s better than any dog I’ve ever achieved.)


THESE MEN. THESE FUCKING MEN. (Stage 2 of grief — anger)


?!


Nigel Farage. How has this man become what he has become to us. No don't answer that. I can't bear it.


Just getting used to this now I guess?


I mean, everything's still horrible. There is no meaningful opposition party in this country right now. Is anyone even in charge any more? Is it just spoilt men bickering while everything else crumbles? Is the country going to collapse, economically? Racism and bigotry is widespread, it is horrific to behold, what is there we can do to stop it? (We must try) This morning, it looked likely that one of three utterly awful people was going to be made unelected prime minister by September, free to wreak whatever ideological havoc they see fit, irrevocably harming/destroying huge chunks of everything we hold dear, damaging the most vulnerable in society in the process. Now, it's one of only two utterly awful people (most likely, anyway), but hey, at least we can take some joy in the downfall of Boris now, right? (Alex reckons 'Pyrrhic victory' might be renamed 'Johnsonian victory' in his honour...)
But hey... Turn the news off for a while. Stina gave me her incredible shiny lamp, my exciting new trainers arrived in the post, and I got to enjoy Alex and Justin's reactions to my ridiculous new lamp (bemused horror about covers it).
Small things. Material things. But I am holding onto them, dammit, along with the love and support of my amazing housemates and wider circle of friends. 

And on we go. What's even going on any more?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

May 2016

I am feeling so much better.
And you why that is? It's because we've finally got a LIFE PLAN.

If you know me IRL you probably know that me and Alex have been talking about leaving Brighton for, literally, years. It's too expensive down here and we just don't feel that we'll be able to build the life that we want, in the long term. I think Alex is also pretty much 'done' with Brighton the place... I still have a lot of fondness for this wonderful city, but I'm ready for change too.

However, I've been searching for jobs in Manchester and Leeds, (and even widening the net to Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh) for a long time now, and not getting anywhere.

On my low days, I tell myself my lack of success is down to my utter failure to adult, my inherent unemployability, and maybe I'm not cut out for this design malarkey after all.
On good days, I know it's because I'm too fussy. I am good at what I do, but I really want to work for an agency, and no agency will hire me with only in-house experience (unless I had some kind of contact there or other way of proving myself to them).

So, the good news. I still love my current job. The only reason I want to leave is because we want to get out of Brighton. My friend Jess suggested I ask them whether I could work freelance, remotely... I assumed that the answer would be an absolute no... but actually, it was a 'maybe, yes'.

So, from late next January, me and Alex are going to be relocating to Hebden Bridge. I am going to be working three full days a week at my current job (remotely), and for the remaining two days a week (plus evenings, weekends, whatever I need to do!) I will be seeking design and illustration freelance — hopefully, picking up work within studios in Manchester or Leeds. Either with a view to continuing to freelance long term, or ultimately, finding a position within an agency/studio, having hopefully made new friends/contacts by actually living in/near the places I want to work.

So that's the news. I am SCARED/EXCITED/SCARED/EXCITED mostly EXCITED. January is far enough away that I've got plenty of time to mentally prepare. I'm really excited about freelancing/working from home (with accompanying fear that I will get no work and life will become one big hellish steaming stress pot), and I'm super excited about getting to know new places, and being closer to lots of friends I don't get to see so often (with accompanying sadness about leaving so many people behind in Brighton). (Move up North everyone, it's the future! Northern Powerhouse, etc!)

Anyway, without further ado, May. Optimistic May.


May has two bank holidays, which I always forget about. It's GREAT. First one was spent curling my hair, eating delicious greasy junk food, going to a garden centre/nursery (for the first time in my adult life), planting herbs, burning stuff, and making Alex and Justin watch Lemonade (they loved it more than I could even have hoped). So good.


The other great thing about bank holidays is that what feels like a Monday is actually a Tuesday. SWEET.


These two are my faves. Trying to persuade Justin to come up North with us so as not to break up the institution.


It's 'votin time! (Is anyone else freaking out about the referendum?! If we leave the EU can I leave the UK? Can Scotland become independent so we can go there? Or am I going to have to go to the Netherlands? Or Germany? But if we leave the EU then I won't even be able to?! Aaauuurggghhhhnooooo if you're undecided please vote stay in for me?!)


Summer summer summer time


Oh gosh that vegan taramasalata is SO GOOD. (If you're in Brighton it's called 'taramalg' and you can get it in the fridge in Infinity foods)


Lay on Alex's bed with light evening sunshine coming in through the window soaking up the new Radiohead. Haven't listened to it since TBH, but I enjoyed it at the time. (Alex wishes it to be noted that this picture is partly fictionalised because there's no way they'd allow me to rest my leg on their hair like that)


Been enjoying 'Suburbia' a lot, a hex-based urban planning themed boardgame.

If you enjoyed Eurovision, this next section is for you...






I do enjoy doing these Eurovision drawings although my ability to draw people is still sadly lacking...


I've had kind of a bad back for a couple of weeks. It's getting better now which is a relief, because I was freaking out for a while there.


Stayed at Stina's house for a few days to look after Lump the dog while she was away.


One of the best ways Alex defuses my hormonal grumps is by coming up with increasingly comical affectionate insults.


Have you tried the cocoa butter solid formula that comes in a tub? It's unbelievably good, I didn't realise it was possible to be this excited about a moisturiser. They're not even paying me to say that. (Hey Palmers, would you like to pay me in like cocoa butter?)


Had a fun Saturday in London, not-spending money in Spitalfields, eating giant pizza with uni friend Michael, and catching up with Daedelus with Kneebody as Kneedelus. 
They were so good.


...and then a super busylovely Sunday, visiting Tom, Jo, Hazel, and new family addition Stanley... then a birthday roast for Fenn... then some entirely inappropriate dancing... And then more boardgames with Justin and Alex.


One thing that scares me about moving is that we won't be able to find home. This house is more 'home' to me than anywhere else I've ever lived, despite its many flaws. Alex keeps reminding me that if I can make this leaky, squeaky, filthy, mock-tudor-beamed monstrosity (sorry house) home, then I can probably make anywhere home. And anyway, it's the people, not the place that makes it. I hope so, anyway. (Two days after I drew this, rainwater started somehow leaking through the bathroom into the kitchen so maybe I will be glad to see the back of the place)


Went to see Chris Parkinson's (@oneoneoneone on Twitter) great poetry Fringe show. So much shouting. So many seals. So good. (Go see him if you get the chance)


Part of my coming to terms with leaving Brighton is trying to fall out of love with the place. One of my coping strategies is going to places I used to love and intentionally having an unfun time so I won't miss them. This may be ridiculous. Went for a walk along Lancing beach in high winds while hungry. Drew some sea kale. Decided I don't need to go back again. Success!

Onwards to June. Hopefully goodness awaits.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

April 2016

So I feel like I've been a bit gloomy this month — job hunting is depressing. I'm too fussy in my 'dream job' desires, but also the fairly limited range of people I want to work for are too fussy in their choosing (or maybe my aspirations are just too high)... If only we could all be less picky.

I've been getting pretty despondent about that, and getting even more despondent about the fact that there's seemingly no end in sight... but with May and nicer weather and lots of fun social things on the horizon I hope I'm coming out of the other end of my gloom, for now at least.

Actually April started off quite nicely. We found out Alex's job is secure for another year (but just one year), so I had a brief moment of feeling relaxed.


Stina took me out for lunch at new-ish fancy vegan tapas place Rootcandi. I’d been faintly grumpily boycotting them because they changed from being Iydea, where I got lunch two times a week, and because of the change I can’t afford to go there on the regular any more, and was very sad about this. But you know. Not gonna say no to tasty lunch, and it definitely WAS tasty. I begrudgingly recommend them.


The server went down in the office for nearly a whole day and everyone went home apart from me and James who spent hours faffing with cables.


It’s still not summer.


Jammie Dodgers are supposedly soon not going to be vegan any more (the manufacturer is adding milk to the recipe). I am very upset about this, and stockpiling the okay recipe ones to spread out over the coming months.


I did not know I had it in me to be this excited about UPVC windows, OH MY GOODNESS. This house has needed new windows for probably over 10 years. I have been gently nudging the letting agent to fix them for the entire 5 years I’ve lived here. In the days before these new ones were installed, Alex’s bedroom window was wedged shut with several very precisely measured blocks of wood, mostly rotten… The bathroom window was propped open with a successively crushed stack of toilet rolls, also rotten, and absolutely filth encrusted from years or nearby road and train station gunk.
And now, just perfection. Open, close, open, close, open, close, opencloseopencloseopenclose and SO CLEAN SO BLOODY CLEAN

They put up our rent by 10% at the same time though. Swings and roundabouts :|


Alex taught me how to read the i ching. I don’t really believe in that kind of thing (and neither does Alex, deep down), but they’ve found it a source of comfort over the years and the words can be very beautiful. My reading ‘seeking harmony in the countryside, one’s ambition is not yet fulfilled’. Seems fitting. (As we can always lead ourselves to believe)


Some days.


Alex has been a bit low this month too. BUT, Justin is finally home from nearly 6 months in India, which is very exciting! And I made this amazing sticky toffee pudding.


I know it’s a bit trashy but my goodness SO MANY FEELS


For most of my early life I thought it was 'raspberry parade'. Still my favourite. Still heartbroken.


I’m not big into flowers n’ stuff, but Preston Rock gardens are looking pretty great this time of year.


OH TEETH why can't I just eat what I want and do a half arsed job of brushing and everything be okay?! I am choosing to ignore this for a while longer though because I am not yet a responsible adult.


Beyonce is my hero.


Lou is also my hero. Alex and her arranged for us to go over there for dinner and then neither of them confirmed it so Lou assumed we weren't coming. Despite being in the midst of a very stressful few weeks, when we showed up she pulled this AMAZING dinner out of the bag from just whatever ingredients she had to hand and honestly it was fancy restaurant good.


It's good to have a catchup. (Also Hannah has the best glasses)


I know I'm an adult and I've been an adult for nearly 10 years but it never gets old. People are paying me to design stuff! (Okay then I have to spend it on rent and other boring stuff but still.)

Anyway, onwards into May. Talking of people paying me to design stuff, if you're looking to hire a graphic designer or artworker, and you're based in Manchester, Leeds (and surrounding areas of both), Glasgow, Sheffield or Edinburgh, HELLO THERE (let's talk)