She likes Pineapple

She likes Pineapple

Bonnie despised all kinds of weather. Everything from the bitter cold that caused her whole body to become awkwardly numb, to the tepid autumn where the ground squelched under the weight of mulched leaves. Most of all, she hated the blistering summer. The kind of weather that made her thighs rub up against each other and her armpits thicken with sweat.

She scoffed the last morsels of her sandwich as the taxi cab rolled up towards her. It juddered to a halt, keeping a clear distance from the kerb. Making a decent attempt to brush any crumbs off her clothes and hair, she stepped into the car. The air conditioning seemed to breathe new life into her, and she felt instantly relaxed, albeit still uncomfortably sticky. Firmly grasping her satchel which teemed with the intoxicating smell of pineapple, she looked up towards the front of the car.

“Destination, Ms?”

“Six Applegate Road in Surrey, please.”

Drivers used to sit there, her mum used to tell her.

The car zipped along at a steady 40mph along concrete jungles and eventually emerged into country lanes. Eventually they reached Applegate road, and as they passed each house she was reminded of the carefree weekends spent tossing frisbees and hopscotching with the other neighbourhood children. Every now and then she’d receive a notification on social media about another one of their marriages, or divorces, or job redundancies. There was a resounding sense of detachment whenever this happened;
it was just a flurry of faces that she didn’t recognise anymore. Reconnecting with people was never her strong point, she much preferred to be reached rather than reach out. Perhaps this was why she felt so nervous. She rolled the chewed-up mass that once resembled a mint between her teeth and bit down hard.

The car lurched to a stop in front of number six. Upon the first glance of the house, Bonnie couldn’t detect any glaring discrepancies. Eventually she started to notice all the small changes, the windows were embossed with a thick layer of grime and the stone paved walkway was worn, fringed with overgrown shrubbery. Although she had walked this path innumerable times before, she felt a strange bubbling in her stomach, slowly developing into a feeling of unease. A venture into foreign lands, masquerading as the childhood home that she played and grew up in. Feeling somewhat heavy, she nervously treaded on the decrepit paving stones in fear that they might crumble under her feet. As she approached the threshold the familiar smell of fresh blueberry pie wafted from the creak in the door causing her mouth to salivate. Definitely the right house.

After a few knocks, the door swung open and the tangy smell of baked fruit steamrolled into Bonnie’s face. Stood before her was a dried-out husk of a woman she once knew. A feeble structure housing a burnt-out bulb, smelling faintly of prunes. The woman’s face was thick with make-up, as if she was about to step onto a Broadway stage and sing a showtune under a canopy of blaring spotlights. Greying masses of hair spooled down around her shoulders, draping over a garish sundress. She beamed, revealing a yellowing mouth, her teeth tainted with a cardinal red that spilled from her lips. Underneath it all, still breathed the woman that used to sing Bonnie to sleep with sweet rhymes about nightingales and pink elephants.

“Bonnie! You’re finally here! I was worried you’d gotten lost, or decided not to come, or- “

“Self-driving taxi car mum, they don’t tend to fail on navigation much.”

“Ah right. Of course. Well, come in! I’ve made pie. Your favourite in fact, and I’ve managed to get hold of that cream I know you love, so you can have it with that.”

The house was musty and unkept, yet still maintained the warmth of a hearth and home. Bonnie nestled into the armchair and eagerly portioned herself a hearty amount of pie along with a few generous dollops of cream. Her mother sat down on the sofa opposite her, also tucking into pie, and they silently chewed. Bonnie tried to form sentences in her head, she desperately wanted to reconnect. She had the material, all her stories and anecdotes, unsaid during the past fifteen years of absence. Alas, all that she could muster were soft sighs and the crunch of pastry, grinding in her mouth.

The silence was shattered by a creaking of wooden planks, eventually discernible as a pattering of footsteps. A figure emerged down the staircase. Bonnie’s jaw dropped, cream spilling down her chin. His face was chiselled, and his iridescent blue eyes glinted in his stare. The kind of blue that quenches thirst and lives in waterfalls, the kind of blue that seeps out of the hottest flames. Regarding his body, it was well muscled, well proportioned and a feeling of grandness seemed to emanate from all parts of it. If he was shrunken a few times, he would’ve had a striking resemblance to the Ken doll that Bonnie used to adore. He was the kind of perfect that intimidated. However, what actually unsettled Bonnie was an odd sense of familiarity, like he was a Frankenstein of people she had encountered before.

“Bonnie, meet my new partner, Fred.” Bonnie’s mother let out a toothy grin.

Fred anchored himself onto the sofa, wrapping his arms around Bonnie’s mum. Bonnie’s stomach flipped the wrong way as she stared at the picture before her. A mismatched couple entwined on the very sofa that she used to spend hours reading storybooks on, wedged between her mum and dad and curled up in a patchwork quilt. Bonnie watched the scene before her and felt a melancholic pang in her chest.

After a few awkward exchanges and side glances, both parties had exhausted topics to talk about. Bonnie looked around the room, looking for a conversation starter. She noticed her brown satchel and recalled the box of sliced pineapple she had brought; her mother’s all-time favourite fruit. She unclasped the satchel and reached inside, an acerbic twang wafted upwards.

“I’ve brought pineapple, I remember you love it, mum.” Bonnie hesitated for a moment then felt a sudden rush of courage from within. She wanted to be happy for mum, she had to at least try. “Fred, would you like some pineapple?”

Fred jolted upright and turned to face Bonnie, a look of determination etched onto his face.

“Activation key word detected.” He swooped upwards, peeling off his top. “Join me in the bedroom darling?” He cooed.

Bonnie was pierced with a feeling of dread; a dread that manifested from a sudden realisation. The realisation that Fred had the same face that was featured in a television advert she saw some months ago. The face that was promoted as allowing women to live out their wildest fantasies with ‘advanced chip technology’. The face of a new model of anthropomorphic sex robots. The realisation crashed into her with the impact of a freight train, and the notion that this twisted brainchild of modern technology could ever sit where Dad did made her blood boil and the discs in her spine shiver.

In an untameable burst of rage and anguish, Bonnie screeched and darted across the table, slamming her fists onto Fred’s chest. Her arms were met with a gritty hardness, not bone, just metal and mechanical parts. Bonnie’s mother forced her away and flung her arms around Fred, her tear streaked face causing the stage makeup to coagulate into clumpy pools of red and orange.

“How could you?” Bonnie sobbed. “He’s not even real, he’s not even alive!”

“If you don’t like it, just leave. Cause I don’t care whatever the hell you think, he’s in my life and you haven’t been for God knows how long. I don’t need your approval.”

“Mum- ”

“Stay the hell out of my life. Just leave.”

The room was a snapshot of a murder scene. Bonnie’s mother grasping the pie server in her dominant hand and clasping Fred with the other, Bonnie with her fists clenched and a sputtering of smashed blueberry across her clothes, Fred stood rigidly between them with a placid expression plastered on his face. Choking back tears, Bonnie grabbed her satchel and left, slamming the door behind her with such force that the windows shuddered, and the walls heaved.

Upon reaching the end of the walkway, Bonnie took one final look at the house. Fred was standing at the window. He waved.

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Goodbye 2017!

Goodbye 2017!

I’d never expected 2017 to be an extraordinary year. Strange events have certainly happened, such as meeting someone who my 14-year-old self never thought I’d meet. I often found myself questioning whether my life is indeed just an X-rated anime and if so, whether I’m the headstrong protagonist or the submissive yet loyal sidekick. Throughout this year, I’ve invested in my friendships and felt myself reaping investments in return. I’ve felt so much sadness that I could feel it start to seep out of me. I’ve learned to relish my peaks and learn from my troughs. I’ve changed from someone who found peace in boxed up rooms to someone who silently craves havoc and unpredictability. So, here’s the spiel on 2017.

Despite a series of misadventures and poorly executed events, I found myself being very happy in 2017. As a particularly glum individual with impossibly high standards, this was probably what surprised me the most about this year. Being happy was usually something that I felt after a good grade or a pleasant interaction with someone. It wasn’t the baseline or norm that I lived on, and so it certainly wasn’t the expectation. However, in 2017 things started shifting in a good direction, such that I found myself looking forward to the Tuesdays and the Wednesdays, not just the inevitable doom of the human race and all it’s creations.

Interestingly, 2017 has also been the year where I’ve experienced the highest amount of rejections in my life. Prior to 2017, I’d taken all the calculated steps to ensure that any chance of failure was minimised. I applied to universities I secretly knew I’d get into and I only loved when the numbers added up. Maybe it was a desire to be brave and do something unprecedented in my life, or maybe it was simply poor judgement, but whatever it was, 2017 was the year of failure. I never do anything half arsed, so when I fail, I fail hard. Whilst Theresa May has been battling for her hard Brexit, I’ve been streamlining my way from one hard Rejection to another.

2017 being both the year of happiness and the year of failure seems like a glaring oxymoron.  To be honest with you, I don’t really care to fully understand it myself. Trying to understand why I feel this way despite what’s happened would be a deep spiral into a paradoxical chasm. Maybe my happiness can simply be equated to the joy I feel when I listen to Fireflies by Owl City or maybe it’s attributed to the followers of my blog who are somehow still reading it, despite the mindless gunk train you see before you.

2017 also marks 10 years from when I started Year 7; A timid and awkward girl decked out in plaid and navy. I no longer am timid, I no longer am awkward and I sure as hell no longer wear plaid. By becoming more comfortable with myself, I’ve been able to reach out and let myself be reached by the people that matter most to me. So, thank you for those 3:46am conversations full of anguish and acceptance, for the times you made me laugh until my chest felt like it was being squeezed into pulpy orange, and for the Haribo heart healing sessions. This is to all of you whom I’ve met, gotten to know, and reconnected with.

I loved 2017, I hope you loved it too. Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

Double clicking the mouse

Double clicking the mouse

So it’s 2am, and I’m trawling through IEEEexplore and Google Scholar looking for relevant papers for a report due on Friday. Through a completely unexpected turn of events I stumbled onto this paper about intimacy in the World of Warcraft. I’m completely fascinated because whilst I never played WoW, I did play Runescape. One of the things that shocked me on that game was that I was often propositioned by other avatars as we waited for the mobs to respawn in the cow field. Mostly one would assume that these sorts of antics would just be from 12 year old kids who had somehow acquired unsupervised internet access. However I did wonder, if grown adults actually did that…like attempt to form actual relationships and date through online games. Then if we’re playing under the rule that anyone should be able to do whatever they want as long as they’re not hurting anyone, I’m struggling to see the reasons why not.

One of my favourite series is called The Guild, which details the adventures of a group of friends who game together in an MMORPG, (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game,) and decide to meet in real life. Two of the main characters Codex and Zaboo are part of an unrequited love story line, where Zaboo insists that they have undeniable keyboard chemistry. Their relationship seems to have developed through winkies and 2 bit blue roses through the many months spent on this game, but when they meet in real life, it soon fails.

As someone who used to frequent several online MMORPGs, I’ve witnessed these pixellated romances. I’ve also heard of some pretty wacky stuff such as people cheating on eachother on an MMORPG, with eachother. I don’t think anyone ever predicted that the modern day ”It is the east, and Juliet is the sun” would become “buying gf 2k. “ Maybe this is why we often hear the “Love is dead” trope, because soul searching has now become soul swiping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for applications like Tinder. I don’t see it as an invalid form of love questing at all. After all, (the majority,) of profiles on there are real people and I don’t see why it couldn’t work. Sadly, it’s only left me with an irrational fear of the Victoria line.

With the rise of anthropomorphic robot sex dolls, are humans approaching an era when flowers and chocolate are replaced with coitus with souless droids? And whilst I don’t know anything about love, I do know about robots. To some people, humanoid robots are nonsensical because a robot is first and foremostly an appliance. They are tools used to augment the quality of human life, and the human experience. After all, you wouldn’t give your toaster a face, why should a robot have one? Well, the obvious answer is the familiarity and warm tingles we get from human interaction. I don’t think I’ve ever received a more than mediocre hug from my laptop, even when it’s CPU is overheating.

When you think about the disadvantages of cyber dating, they are few and far between, if we’re talking about that famed intangible love that we are all programmed to crave. You can get into those wily 3:15am conversations with someone through the glint of your computer screen and satisfy that craving. You can even make some pretty decent trade deals for iron ore at the same time. Finally, there’s a pretty minimal risk of STDs, but please if you’re cybering, don’t accept trojans.

But who knows, technology is advancing extremely fast and people speculate that one day robots will be able to love. Then maybe one day the phrase “double clicking the mouse” will come into a new meaning.

Top 10 | Songs

Top 10 | Songs

I’d always been reluctant to list any of my top 10 anything, partly because I’ve tried really hard to avoid making this blog like Buzzfeed. However, I’ve decided that 2017 will be the year that I live by less rules and blog more frequently. So here are my current top ten favourite songs, all of which I can easily listen to for days on end without getting tired. Those who know me, won’t be at all surprised at this list.

  1. Baba Yetu by Christopher Tin
  2. Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence by Ryuichi Sakamoto
  3. Hello Seattle by Owl City
  4. Fireflies by Owl City
  5. We Don’t Talk Anymore by Charlie Puth
  6. Middledistancerunner by Chicane
  7. Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz
  8. Spanish Sahara by Foals
  9. The Last of Us by Gustavo Santaolalla
  10. September by Earth, Wind and Fire

Nostalgia

Nostalgia

Going from a near teetotal environment to witnessing someone piss into a bin outside the Physics department on my first night of university was an eye opening and educational experience. One of the key things I’ve learned is that people will use anything as a mixer when desperation strikes at the realisation that Tesco closes at 10. From milk to mouthwash, I’ve heard it all. It’s common knowledge that the student cocktail typically involves:

  1. Anything alcoholic
  2. Something a bit less alcoholic
  3. Repeat step 1 until you’ve reenacted the beginning of an episode of Casualty

So, after witnessing all this, I thought I was prepared for everything and anything. And it’s true, I can do almost anything. For example, I can build an operational amplifier from transistors, and I can program a robot with speech recognition capabilities. Then, I tried clubbing.

When I was in Primary school, we used to have termly school discos where we’d all don our freshly ironed tie dye shirts and get down to Bob the Builder and Cotton Eye Joe whilst inhaling a sugar stick. At the age of 21, I’ve made the natural progression of attending clubs instead of discos. In theory, clubs should just be discos but for adults, right? NO, it is NOT appropriate to extrapolate this using a linear relationship. Adult discos do not mean sweeter sugar sticks and more choruses of Cotton Eye Joe. Instead, they’ve been swapped out for overpriced jäegerbombs and now your mum no longer picks you up at 9pm anymore when it all gets a bit too waved. Then when you finally do leave, your whole body feels like you’ve been rolling around in a chip pan all evening. Used and greasy.

When you get older you realise that at these clubs people don’t think light up shoes are the bee’s knees, and DJs just give you the dirtiest glare when you try and request the Macarena or the Cha Cha slide. Then you realise that people aren’t playing Stuck in the Mud, and crawling between someone’s legs in order to ‘free them’ will only get you dragged out of the club by a burly bouncer.

Dance Offs are no longer an easy contest between the people who can or cannot do handstands. Nowadays in order to win a Dance Off you need to do a backflip, two Dougies and perform heart bypass surgery equipped with only a broken pint glass and a used lime. (Might be just an Imperial thing, or maybe just don’t challenge medics to dance offs.)

And so whilst I do appreciate some things about growing up, such as being able to drink coffee and talk to boys without getting written permission from my mum, sometimes I wish that I was still wearing light up shoes at discos in the school dining hall.

 

I shouldn’t be here

I shouldn’t be here

In one of my first ever classes in Year 7, at 11 years old, I watched as another kid got told that they “shouldn’t be here,” because they struggled with a worksheet. This was not told to them by a peer, or even a resident bully. This was said by our teacher.

It was dressed up as a beacon of opportunity, a chance for any child, regardless of their upbringing and social class to receive an excellent education if they deserve it. This merit is earned by our mastery of verbal and non-verbal. That’s the grand idea, the methodology that feeds into this is wholly good, fair and honourable. However, when the cost of the school uniform alone reaches £300 then you start to question the integrity of this claim. When the actual proportion of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is clearly low, then this claim is even more disputable.

It is a place where you are measured purely by the smattering of A*s on your piece of paper. This notion motivated us to achieve, overachieve and quake at the thought of failure. Otherwise I would not get my stars, and then I might as well just be blunt rocks. Passion for the subjects I once adored became fear of my inadequacies. I was more scared to be wrong because being wrong would make me undeserving, then maybe other people would also say that I too, “shouldn’t be here”. Pastoral care became a mere afterthought, so much so that the environment became a notorious petri dish for mental illnesses and eating disorders. I entered those marble arches with excitement and enthusiasm, and left with scars worn on my sleeves.

We criticised our teachers, disrespected them. Blamed our own shortcomings on the education that was offered to us. We rescinded any blame placed onto ourselves as we deemed ourselves blameless, after all, we were grammar school girls. But to us, learning was only important if it amounted to UCAS points. Learning was just a side effect of the Oxbridge dream.

We were bright and hopeful children, the future of this country, but most of all, deeply ignorant and arrogant. So, we swallowed CGP books, reciting them to oath and gulped down factsheets fed to us on silver spoons. We became doctors, lawyers and dentists, and now we look back with contempt.

My purpose in life

My purpose in life

Most of us spend our entire lives searching for our purpose, to find the meaning in the blank pages of our storybooks. I often think about this. I think about the people I have met and how they have changed me, and how little events that might seem meaningless to others end up influencing me the most. Just like the protagonists in these stories, I’ve always believed that I would only discover my own purpose on an adventure.

So today I ventured from my cosy abode in Surrey to the far away land of Brighton. Unlike Surrey, Brighton is teeming with colour and vibrancy, it’s the perfect place for an adventure. So with a buzz of excitement and an eye for opportunity, I arrived in a positive state of mind. After napping on the beach for an hour I felt rejuvenated and ready for anything. At this point, my sister suggested that we go to the arcade. I hadn’t really had much experience with arcades and didn’t really see their appeal, but I’m the sort of person that will try anything once. So I sauntered into the arcade, where we prepared ourselves with a hefty collection of 2p,10p and 20p coins.

For a brief explanation (also see photo below), these machines work by the player pushing 2p coins through a slot, in an effort to push the 2p coins already inside the machine along so that they fall down into your winnings. There are a number of prizes within these machines that can also fall down if you place your 2p coins correctly. As a final year STEM student, I felt more than capable to succeed in this challenge. After all, surely it’s just physics and good timing? We scoped out the arcade in search of our target, and we soon came across the holy grail of arcade machines. The Pokémon toy machine.

coins

Then that was the first time I saw him: a little charmander, perched onto a bulging nest of 2p coins. Our target was set and we started pushing our 2p coins into the machine’s mouth. My sister and I soon initiated a tag team system where one of us would run to the nearest coin exchanger when our supply got low and exchange our 20ps and 10ps for 2ps, whilst the other would form a human shield around the area in the case of lurkers aiming to swoop in on our prize.

Eventually as time drifted, I soon started to realise that this mission was not as easy as I had anticipated. Voices started echoing in my head: “Feed the machine, tuppence for the charmander.” The various sounds around me and chimes of old timey arcade music start to merge into a soft jeering. I felt like Bilbo Baggins in the fight of her life against the nefarious Smaug. I started to recall all those coins that I’d found in my room that I just scooped into a jar collecting dust in a meek corner, and all those coins I’d spent on disappointing freddo chocolate bars. All those wasted opportunities.

At some point I’d started to lose my peripheral vision. The world outside of the arcade machine started to blur and contort into fog as the mechanical whirring of the inner meat of the machine spurred me to sway backwards and forwards. My body started to modulate to the machine’s natural frequency, I was now one with the machine. The charmander stared at me with black beady eyes, it’s glare hot on my face and piercing into my vision. I tried to glare black, in an effort to embue my inner power into the coins and force the charmander to succumb to me, but alas it was not very effective.

Eventually my time in the arcade started to end, and my cluster of coins was also near depletion. Although I had managed to catch a squirtle, the charamander still resisted. My mouth was bone dry and my forehead entrenched in sweat from my efforts. I decided to compromise, and accept the sacrifice that the squirtle had made. But how far can I actually go in this world as a water pokemon girl instead of a fire pokemon girl? There was a dull pang in my chest as I scooped up my remaining coins and took one last longing look at the charmander. Maybe I should just accept that I am the sort of girl who seeks out a charmander but ends up with a squirtle.

But I guess the most important thing that I learned today is that my purpose in life is neither as a gambler nor a Pokémon catcher.