A Holiday with the Best Friend (part 2)

This is part 2 of 2 of my adventure away that I had with my best friend just over 2 months ago. You can catch up on what happen in the first post here.

The next morning, after the concert, we had a big breakfast of pancakes and then headed out to more wineries, that was of course after a great night’s sleep and sleep in. Cockfighter’s Ghost Wines was our first stop where we hit the dessert wines and brought a bottle or two.

Then it was to the Hunter Distillery where we tasted this weird coffee vodka and chocolate vodka, before moving on to a choc-mint liqueur and mango liqueur. Neither of which we knew what to serve with, but the girl behind the counter was a genius and managed to convince us to buy a bottle of mango liqueur – great with pineapple juice apparently.

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We headed to the Hunter Valley Gardens and brought massive biscuits, The Full Monty flavoured ones of course and lollies, some strawberries and creams and Irish cream chocolates from this man who was letting us taste them for free. We had lunch at The Deck Café Lovedale where we had beer battered snapper with Asian salad and ham/capsicum and brie toasted sandwich.

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Tasted so good, and a chocolate milkshake too!

Then we did the biggest mistake of the entire trip, we went to a dessert bar after a large lunch. We thought it was further away hoping that distance would allow us to digest some of our lunch, oh how wrong we were. We went to Sabor in the Hunter Valley Dessert Bar. Even though we were full to the brim we still headed there and enjoyed a mini Oreo cheesecake and a chocolate volcano up until the point of almost vomiting, then we got the cheesecake boxed up for later. They were by far the best things we had eaten the whole time though. We headed back to our place after that and got stuck on the couch talking. What was funny was that less than three hours later we were putting another cheese platter together to eat. After a quick sausage sizzle we headed to bed after what was a long few days.

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Oreo Cheesecake (closest), Chocolate Volcano (furthest away)

The last day went by the fastest which sucked. We had breakfast and then started packing up and by the time we threw the rubbish away, packed our cars with iced coolers for the cheeses we had brought, it was time to check out. It was still early and neither of us wanted to leave quiet yet so we went for another drive. This time it was harder to find places to go to because a lot was closed or weren’t opened for lunch on Monday’s. We did however pull into the Roache Estate and had ice-cream from The Smelly Cheese Shop – Kinder and Coffee flavour were our picks and we ate them in the stunning sun outside overlooking sprinklers watering beautiful manicured fields of grass and vineyards.

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Kinder (left), Coffee (right)

We drove back to Hope Estate to grab a picture of the area of where the concert had been as we didn’t on the night of the concert, there were just too many people and we watched as trucks and men started to bring the massive stage down.

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The stage, empty, and completely zoomed in on camera from carpark

It was getting close to lunch and even though we had just eaten we need something to sustain us in our drives back home. So we drove around for a while looking for a place to have lunch. Do you know how hard it is to find somewhere to eat lunch on a Monday in the Hunter Valley? It is almost impossible. We finally found a place, Ziah’s on a road, it looked like a house, but as we drove in you could see that it was a house that had been turned into a restaurant. It was cool, filled with mismatched furniture and a family with a small baby to look after us. We shared a prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella panni and chips which tasted amazing. Then we couldn’t hold off any longer. We drove back to where my car was parked and said our teary goodbyes before parting and driving our long ways home.

It was a great four days away, the best in fact. Great company, great music, like seriously listen to some Pete Murry and Rob Thomas and all will be good, well for a little while anyway. It’s amazing to see how much two people can talk even though we live two completely different lives. It was exactly what we both needed and if nothing else, we finally got to go to a concert together, something I have dreamt of doing with my best friend for a very long time. It was proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of time with your friends but that the time that you do spend together has to be worthwhile and there is nothing more in the world I would wish for than more time with my best friend Ms. C!

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Hunter Valley Holiday Loot!

My trip to the Hunter Valley was amazing and don’t worry, there is another holiday in the works for us, maybe even a trip up the coast for a little while.

P.S. I have added links to the wineries and artists I visited and listened to on the post just in case you are interested in more information on anything I did or just ask.

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A Holiday Away With The Best Friend (part 1)

Almost two months ago I disappeared for a few days. I packed up my stuff, took my sisters car and drove up to the Hunter Valley. There were a number of reasons as to why I was going up; the Rob Thomas concert, wine tasting and cheese eating but most importantly it was to meet up with my best friend Ms. C. We don’t get to see each other often because she lives up the coast and after our 21st birthdays, we had been trying to find time to see each other and finally the time had come, in the form of a getaway holiday. I drove up to the Hunter Valley listening to an audiobook, hoping not to get lost, even though there were two slight little hiccups, but I resolved those pretty fast. I got to our accommodation of choice and settled in, waiting for Ms. C as she had a long drive than I did. Whilst waiting, I ducked to the shops to buy some groceries so we could cook dinner. Our first night finally together again after almost a year apart, was spent talking, eating, drinking and talking until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore.

The next day we headed out and even though I thought I was a pretty great map reader, I did indeed get us lost, but it wasn’t too bad, I mean the Hunter Valley has some great scenery, so it’s not like we lost out. First we went to Binnorie Cheese Shop and tasted more than enough cheese to last us a day or two, but it was so great we brought some too. Then we hit some wineries and tasted some great wine. One winery – Mistle Toe Winery has a sculpture garden, where we looked upon some weird shaped sculptures as well as tasted a few great wines and brought some too.

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We drove past beautiful olive groves, and stumbled upon a great named winery with an awesome statue of a pig. The winery is called Piggs Peaks, and there we tasted some of their wine too. The man that served us gave us a wine bottle lid for the concert, so we could close the bottle without spilling any, it was great (we actually used it and it worked too).

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Lunch was at Two Fat Blokes, what an awesome name right? They had a great menu with some great looking food coming out of the kitchen. Beef cheek sliders with a side of chips with aioli was a go, but it was the Mascato Granitas everyone was ordering that got us intrigued. They looked like cups of fairy floss. We headed back to where we were staying after lunch as we needed to get ready for the concert we were heading to. The Rob Thomas Concert!

The Rob Thomas concert, the main reason we had gathered, was on the Saturday night. We were going to catch a shuttle bus to and from the concert, so we had lots of time to chill and get ready between our little adventure and the concert. We had brought tickets for the bus and left in time to get the reception area, but then we hit a bump, we didn’t know how to get from our villa to the reception by foot, only by car. We had left in time to catch one of two buses and thankfully we did that or we would have missed both buses because we got there just in time to get out names marked off, our wrist bands and catch our breaths. The shuttle bus was the easiest way there and when we got there, all you could see was a major operation of buses dispatching hundreds of people on a field in the middle of a winery. Hope Estate looked spectacular, it was set up like a massive event – toilets, food stands, bars, merchandise stands, police, and first aid, everything you would need. The music from Darren Middleton, Pete Murray and of course Rob Thomas was exceptional. It was perhaps the best concert I had ever been too and that is saying a lot because I have been to a lot of concerts in my short life. It was my first outside concert and it was amazing. There also happened to be a family member of mine there too and it was great to catch up with them and get some inside family gossip.

When the sun faded and Pete Murray and his sassiness left the stage and darkness set in and Rob Thomas came to the stage the whole atmosphere changed and you could not only feel the joy in the air but could see it on Rob Thomas’ face too. It was a great concert, a great set of songs for fans, new or old, young or old to enjoy and dance around to.

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The music, the hip shaking, the sweaty t-shirts that had to keep coming off was making for a great night. But then something awesome happened, the guitarist pick was thrown at me and because there was a nice man behind me, he shown the light to my feet and showed me, or else I wouldn’t have had a clue it was thrown because I was so mesmerized by Rob’s accent and hips. The night was capped off with a flurry of fireworks and a mad dash through a crowd of thousands to get back to the buses. It was so worth it through.

 

Stick around for the last bit of my trip away to the Hunter Valley with my best friend next Sunday.

P.S. I have added links to the wineries and artist I visited and listened to on the post just in case you are interested in more information on anything I did, or just ask me.

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FOMO and the real world

Last night I went out with my friends. We went to a local bar and celebrated a friend’s birthday. It was a great night, a great group of people to be out with and the place we were in had a great view of the setting sun over the water, there was nothing else that I could have asked for. The music was obnoxiously loud that the night was spent screaming or talking loudly to one another, and you leave at the end of the night with your ears ringing, a feeling I love but best caused by a concert in my opinion.

There was a football game on the surrounding televisions and you could see how intense and involved everyone who was watching it was getting from sheer excitement for the game. There was yelling, screaming and lot and lots of barracking. It was even funnier seeing them all lose interest in the game as soon half time came and the bar happened to get full of women and their friends.

But it wasn’t the drinking that people were doing or the shouting I was participating in that was intriguing me, it was the amount of people on their phones. If you had seen what I had seen you might have asked the same question as I did: why are people, who are out, on their phones? There wasn’t just one or two people sitting there with a drink in one hand and a phone in the other, I swear I counted twenty before I left for the night. I will admit that I too looked at my phone last night for few minutes, but only to text my sister a thing or two, but that wasn’t looking at my Facebook or Twitter to see what my friends, who I was with was doing. I couldn’t honestly care less what other people are doing when I am out, because if I needed to be part of it, somehow I would have been. Is what our friends or colleague offer us not enough that people have to go online? What makes people whip out there phone right in the middle of a conversation?

This growing epidemic of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is in my book quite literally ruining society. If a person is out with their friends, then what on earth is happening on the internet, on their phone, that they need to know about if they are with the people they are usually looking up? You may as well have stayed at home rather than waste the money of going out if you are just going to sit there on your phone and ignore the revolving world around you.

FOMO can and has detrimental effects on people causing depression and anxiety for people who cannot detach themselves from the internet world, long enough to participate in their own reality. If you google it, there are a number of reports and articles about people who have gotten themselves into lots of trouble or terrible situations because they weren’t paying attention to the road and so on. Lose of friendships, lack of interest in the real world, wasting money on things just to buy stuff to post online, detachment disorders and lots more problems are occurring because of FOMO and because people can’t help but always need to know what is happening just in case they miss out. This obsession to always be up to date with what is happening on Facebook or Twitter, to know what every associates, friend and celebrity is doing every given moment is turning people into zombies.

Put your phones down people and live in the moment.

P.S to the girl who stepped on my foot because you were on your phone and not looking, that hurt.

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A Weekend of Firsts

Last weekend was a weekend of firsts for me. I had the opportunity to do a lot of new things that I have always wanted to do and now have finally had the chance to do them.

On the Saturday I went to my very first book event. I know you must be thinking ‘how is this possible’ but with university, family and life in general getting in the way, I haven’t been able to get to do a lot of things that I have known about and wanted to do. I went to Penguin Teen Australia’s #YaSquad2016 and it was just great. I had already purchased 2 books of the authors who were going to be there and had finished one book just the night before the event and was beyond excited to go. When I walked through the doors, I immediately brought the rest of the author’s books and found a great spot at the front so I could hear and see everything.

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These are the books I had and brought (The Super-Proof was free)

The authors that were there were Will Kostakis (The First Third, and The Sidekicks), Megan Jacobson (Yellow), Shivaun Plozza (Frankie), and Kylie Fornasier (The Things I didn’t Say). All of them talked about their books, their publishing journeys, what and who inspires them, how they write and about the book industry itself. Then there was this little competitive trivia game, where I think Will and his teammate won. Then there was a question and answer section where the audience got to ask any random question they wanted answered and I even got to ask a question and got a great response. Because I asked a question I was called up to the front at the end of the event and got the chance to grab a few freebies (books of course).

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2 Freebies I scored for asking a question!

The authors were inspiring I couldn’t wait to get home to write. The book signings took place at the end of the event. In line I stood waiting for all the authors to sign their books and I even got to have small conversations with them all as they signed my books. As I headed home after seeing them individually, I tweeted the author’s thanks and even got a few replies and follows.

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I forgot to grab a picture of the authors as they spoke, but I did get this one before the event as Felicity spoke to the audience

So that was my first, first of the weekend.

Then on Sunday I went to my first Bridal Shower. One of my friends from high school is finally getting married to her boyfriend this year. Last year my friends and I attended the engagement party which I wrote about here if you want to know how that went down. This was my first Bridal Shower so I didn’t know what to expect from it or what was going to happen during it, and if you follow me on Twitter you will already know what happened and I’m not going to repeat it here, because I might get in trouble. Anyway, there was great food and drinks, I mean 6 different flavour juices to pick for our mimosas, little quiches, sausage rolls and even stacks of different sandwiches were on the tables to be eaten. And a pretty pink dessert bar too!

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Drinks
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Food Spread
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Dessert Bar!

There were even a few games that were played. We were all given rings on ribbon as we walked through the door and if you said the words ‘ring’, ‘wife’ or ‘wedding’ and someone realised, you had to give them your ring. The person with the most rings won a small prize. I was cheated out of winning literally minutes away from the end of the day. We threw balls into bras, wrote advice on cooking utensils, wrote memories of the girl who is getting married on paper and she had to pick whose memory it was. She didn’t get mine right, so I won some nail polish. Then the gifts were unwrapped, secrets were spilled and the day was over just in time for a drenching of cold water as it started to pour with rain.

There is something to be said about firsts I think. I mean if you do the same things over and over again, life becomes stale and boring. So mixing it up every once in a while is exciting. I will be going to another book event soon and will let you know about it. And the wedding is only next month so I will be writing one of these sooner rather than later. So stick around to hear more gossip.

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More Sunflowers…

Last week I introduced you all to my good friend Girty.

Well a week has gone by and I am happy to let you all know that – 3 more sunflowers have sprug!!!!

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Meet Betty (the one at the back), Lulu (the one at the front) and Jasper (the one in the middle).

I named them in that order because that is the order they sprung and flourished and the names sort of just, well they named themselves like Girty did.

If they stop swaying so much in the wind I might be able to put up another photo of them for you all.

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The Day That Romance Died

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Have you ever wondered about the history of Valentine’s Day? Have you ever thought about how this day actually came to be?

Did you know that this day’s traditions originate from a man’s worst nightmare?

A man, Valentine, signed his name at the bottom of a letter before his was put to death which he had written for his prisoner to say goodbye. Today we celebrate all things joyous and wonderful, but I’m not sure if it is in vain of this poor man or to honour this man. I think between Valentines’ deaths and today, the meaning of his work has lost it meaning and purpose.

The history of Valentine’s Day is clocked in pain and misery and today in the twenty-first century love birds all around the world flock to celebrate with their loved ones. Flowers, chocolates, teddy bears; a trio of all three seem to make a perfect combination for some people. Oh and don’t get me started on the cards. Do you notice that shops seem to spike the price of chocolate and flowers and bears and of course cards by a few dollars just in time for February 14?

 

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You walk into the shops on actual Valentine’s Day and the shops are still completely full of the stuff and you wonder ‘how much stuff can someone buy for the person they love with the words ‘I love you’ ‘you complete me’ and other sappy stuff’.

To me the whole day is a money making scheme pushed down our throats by companies like Hallmark and the like. I know I am a romantic at heart, but the sheer ridiculousness of having one day throughout the year dedicated to showing the person you love how much you love them, is kind of completely bonkers. I mean think about it for longer than a second and you might just agree with me.

Some of you are going to totally disagree with what I am saying, and some of you might even understand. But what I want to let you all know is that this isn’t coming from a bitter place, that me being single has nothing to do with what I have written, it’s actually how I have felt about Valentine’s Day since longer than I can care to remember. If it makes me a cynic then so be it, but there is all something you should know and that is, if someone really loves you they won’t wait for February 14 to show you how much.

Call me cold hearted, stubborn, a sore loser, but it’s true. I am all for love and romance, trust me, but to celebrate it off the back of a man’s death doesn’t make it all that romantic for me. I would prefer it if the person I love or who loves me to tell me that much on any other given day, because then that way, I know television and radio commercials or a trip to the grocery shops didn’t remind them that they love me.

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Sunflowers and Sunshine

I grow sunflowers. I don’t know why, but I do. At some point in the later part of last year I started growing things. First it was parsley, then basil, garlic, of course hundreds of weeds, but now I have sunflowers too. I don’t like playing in gardens, I hate getting dirty from the dirt, but for some reason puttering around the front garden right outside my bedroom window does something to me. I feel relaxed, I have a sore back at the end of it, but I’m relaxed too.

I had one sunflower that grew pretty fast, but then died even faster right in front of my eyes. It was a short sunflower, not the large kind you typically find in movies filling big sweeping plains of land. But it was my sunflower and I loved it to bits.

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Now I have five new sunflowers all about to burst open. We have been getting this great amount of drizzling rain and just the right amount of sun at the moment that has been great to my sunflowers, they are growing like gangbusters and they look like they are about to open at any given moment. These ones are the large tall sunflowers, the ones you see in movies, and they are tall. I suspect them to be taller than myself, which isn’t a lot, I know, but they are tall and they swing greatly in the wind. Watching them from my bedroom window as I write, even as I write this, they are swaying to the wind. My father has just placed wooden sticks against them to help them stay straight, I’m scared that the extreme winds we are having at the moment is going to ruin them. I don’t want anything to happen to them other than grow. I worry about them, which is a little bit weird but that is who I am.

They are hypnotizing, they are peaceful, and they are serenity. Watching them gives me piece of mind, but is also encourages me, because when I look at them, they remind me of my potential and what I can achieve. They say writers should have hobbies other than reading, well I can’t always watch television even though I try to, so I guess gardening isn’t such a bad hobby to have.

When these five sunflowers burst open, I’ll take a photo and show you all.

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Sleepovers and there secrets

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What sleepovers don’t look like http://armywife101.com/2013/02/gasp-your-kids-dont-go-to-sleepovers.html

When I was 15 years old I went to my first sleepover. Well that is when I think I went to my first sleepover, I can’t really remember. What I do remember is how I felt at them, during them and after them. For a while sleepovers became very regular. I would go over to a my friend’s house Ms. M almost every other Friday night and the two of us along with another great friend Ms. C. would lose ourselves in hours of conversations, until we finally ended up falling asleep. We played with hair and make-up and talk about everything and anyone and most of the time I had no idea how we could keep on talking. What I loved about those sleepovers was the fact that we were kids, we were teenagers, but if you close us in a bedroom after feeding us and we just turned into relaxed kids, who didn’t care what was happening in the world or what problems we were facing at school, all we cared about was our friendship and what else we could talk about.

But now things are different. I haven’t been to a sleepover in years. I’m pretty sure my last major sleepover was on the night of my year 12 formal when everyone bunked over at my house after the long night. It’s not that I want to go to a sleepover, I’m an adult for Christ sake, but I would love for one night, not worry about anything and stay up all night eating and drinking and talking and playing with make-up with some friends. You know what I mean?

I don’t know why I am talking about sleepovers right now or what my point is supposed to be about them. But there is one thing that I have always wanted to know. What do boys do during sleepovers? I know it’s probably a bad question to ask, and every time I have tried to ask someone that question, they always reply with the same response ‘you don’t want to know’, but I DO want to know. I want to know how similar or different they are to girl sleepovers.

I babysat my cousins a few weeks ago and the eldest had his friend over and he was going to sleepover. I wanted to ask them both what they do during sleepovers but I stopped myself because they are young and didn’t really want to know what they were going to get up to when I was babysitting them. I didn’t want to change that image of innocence I have of them in my head.

Sleepovers are the weirdest things in the world, well that is what I thought before I started going to them ages ago, and I do once again. I would however like to know what you guys think about sleepovers and more so, if you are a boy or a man and have been to a sleepover, please tell me what you guys do…

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The disappearing act of high school friendships

I went to an all-girl catholic high school, close to the beach. I know what you must be thinking, but you can wipe those dirty thoughts away, because in all honesty none of that stuff happens and if it did, I never saw it happen. The class of girls I started and ended high school with are some of the most gorgeous and smartest people I have come across. It was even stated when we graduated that our class was very smart compared to some of their other previous graduating classes. It took all of us a while to get to know each other and trust each other and like each other enough to call each other friends, but we got there and by the time high school ended and we went our separate ways, I thought that I had made some friends for life.

God how wrong I had been. For the first year out of high school, I found that we were all still very friendly to each other. Whenever I saw someone at the shops or out and about I would say hi and they would say hi back or vice versa. It was nice, it was comforting to know that we had gone through high school together, high school dramas, tears and tantrums together and that our friendships could last. And I think that I took that for granted. I think that I was naive when I thought that the girls I went to high school with would always been nice to me out in the real world after high school, like they were nice to me during high school.

Most of us still live in the area, most of us still live at home without parents, I mean there are a few of them that I know have moved out or have moved countries, but for the most of us, home will always be home. And because of that, I am hurt about the way things have changed. I see them, not a lot of them, but every so often I see 1 or 2 of them out and about and none of them say hi. I’m not going to go and say hi to them because I am scared that they aren’t going to recognise me or even want to talk to me. I know what they get up to and do because it is all over my Facebook, but then when we run into each other, it is as though we are strangers.

Strangers who happened to share 6 of the most important years of our lives together, which now means absolutely nothing to them.

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Buying a house…on the friendship scale

I have a friend, Ms. C, who I have been friends with since I was 10 years old, who has just brought a house. Ms. C lives up the coast, nowhere near me, but she is more of a friend to me than those who live next to me. I am only 5 months older than her, yet we are world apart in a lot of different things.

For instance, Ms. C has had 2 or 3 boyfriends, where as I have never had one.

Ms. C doesn’t come from an ethnic family, her family is as Australian as they come and I love them for that and slightly jealous of her family.

Ms. C hasn’t dealt with a lot of the problems I have had to personally deal with and I haven’t had to deal with any of the problems I know that she has had to deal with.

Ms. C is sexual active, whereas I am not.

Ms. C has a lot more friends than I do, so she is busy hanging out with them having a good time, where I am at home, close to my friends whom are all too busy for me.

Ms. C has been working since she was legally allowed to because it was what her family expected of her, whereas I have never worked, only done 4 work experience jobs and a bit of volunteering.

Ms. C has just brought a house to invest in, has put renters in and is now making money off for her future, whereas I live at home, writing, not making money, mooching off my loving parents.

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So they are some of the things that are different between Ms. C and myself, but there are so many things that we are very similar in.

We both get the struggles of long distance friendships, I mean we have had a longer friendship long distance than actually together.

We both want to fall in love, get married and have children.

We both love our families even though they drive us crazy all the time.

We are both hard working and driven, even though Ms. C has a job and I don’t.

We both appreciate the fact that even though we have friends close by, that we would rather be alone and without them than deal with all of their unnecessary drama.

We both love the simple things in life including chocolate and a good midnight chat.

And even though we mostly talk though emails and text messages, neither of us would give up on each other because when we do talk and when we do finally see each other, it is like nothing has happened between the two of us, the world still spins on and we are the closest of friends, it means the world to us and have the best time together.

Ms. C may be world ahead of me, I mean she brought a house and is only 21, but I couldn’t be happier and prouder of her. I just wish that there wasn’t a 7 hour car drive gap between the 2 of us and we could see each other more. Even though we may have a unique friendship, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

We happen to be meeting up in February for the first time in over a year for a girl’s weekend away. I’ll let you know what we have planned and how it goes closer to the date.

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Self-imposed word limits

I have never had a problem with writing, well sometimes I get stuck with writer’s block, but after sometime you learn how to overcome that. Last year I had to learn to overcome something worse. Carpel Tunnel. Halfway through 2015 I noticed that the more I used my right hand, the worse it would feel, and I am talking like electricity zapping and pinging all the way up and down my arm into my wrist and hand. I didn’t think it was anything serious, just a side effect of the medication I was taking for my migraines, I hoped that it would settle if I just stopped using it so vigorously when I wrote.

Oh how wrong I was. Not only is my carpel tunnel a side effect of the drug that I am taking for my migraines and headaches, the doctors believe that if I hadn’t have started taking the drug I wouldn’t have gotten carpel tunnel for a few more years. So on one hand the doctors are making me take something for my head that aches all the time and on the other hand, that same drug is now rendering my hand literally useless.

I have been writing, both on a computer and by hand, for myself, outside of school and university since I was 14. I am only 22 years old. In 8 years I have not only busted up my right hand and wrist, which is also my writing hand, I have also had to learn how to write faster, more effectively and smarter.

Long gone are the days I can sit in front of my computer and write for hours on end. Long gone are the nights I would sit whilst watching television and write in my notebooks. Long gone is the easy of writing.

Instead now I have to self-impose a 3000 word limit on myself. Anything more and my arm hurts all night long, anything less and I feel like I haven’t done enough for the day.

The doctors say I probably won’t ever need surgery to fix my carpel tunnel that a splint and resting it will help. What the doctors don’t know is my love of writing and that I would rather write through the pain than not write at all.

Does anyone else have carpel tunnel or some tips or tricks that I could use to help me write better?

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Aggressive Women

There is a trait that I have that I didn’t know existed in my family other than in myself. The holiday period is a stressful time, we all know that. You put families with issues that haven’t been resolved in a room full of alcohol and food for a couple of days and what can you except than to really learn about the people you call family.

I don’t have a large family. Well I would, but my father’s side of the family all live in Italy and we don’t really travel there and they don’t travel here, so holiday time is never spent with them. So during the holidays there is 14 of us, 14 members in my immediate family. I know some people have less and would love more, and I honestly would love to have more, but I guess things are the way that they are for a certain reason.

Anyway, Italians are hot blooded, everyone knows that. But what you probably don’t know is that most of the time it is the women in the family who are the ones with the boiling blood running through them. For the last 2 weeks, since the beginning of the holiday period until this new year, not one family gathering has gone smoothly, not one time have I done something that hasn’t resulted in a lecture or a yelling. And mind you I’m doing these things for them, asked by them.

My grandmother, my Nonna in Italian, has this register in her voice, this tone, that when she uses it you know you have screwed up, that what you have just done or are doing is wrong and you need to stop. I know it well because I spend the most amount of time with her. My mother is the same, she is definitely her mother’s daughter. Both of them have this tone and aren’t afraid to use it. When I was younger I never really noticed it, but now I am older and do more things for them, the more I have become familiar with it and let me tell you, it is scary to hear sometimes. This tone can get very aggressive and very loud and most of the time it is over the most stupid thing, it is never over something serious.

What’s worse, is that I also have this trait. I like to be in control and when I’m not I have to nit-pick and torment and make fun of people. It’s a defence mechanism and I use it a lot, especially around my family when they finally decide not to ignore me and ask me stupid questions.

Stick around…

What’s in a name?

I have a weird name. It’s not a common name where I live, but it is somewhat common in Italy. I know you don’t know what my name is and I have kept it private for personal reasons and I hope you all understand that. Just know that Juliet from Romeo and Juliet has nothing on my name.

My pen name Girlwithapen is important to me and I think the autonomy is cool and brave.

My mother called me after her own mother, so my grandmother, my Nonna and I have the same name. I have never had a problem with this, it’s never really been a thing, and I have always thought that it was cool that we have the same name. For years I struggled with the spelling and pronunciation of my own name and when I finished high school and started university I legally had to change it because it was spelt wrong on so many official documents that has my name on it. $250 and a few days wasted later, I finally got the right spelling on my birth certificate (my mother spelt it wrong when I was born) and was able to change my name on every account and thing I own.

I never go by my name, no one ever calls me that. The last time I was called my proper name was on my high school graduation day. I usually go by a few different nicknames, some worse than other and some only said my certain people.

But then last night at my uncles 50th birthday party, something weird happened. Someone called me by my real name. It was weird and uncomfortable and honestly I hated hearing it. I don’t hear it often, my mother even calls me by my nickname when I am in trouble because by the time you finish saying my name, the issue is over.

This women said it and as uncomfortable as it was to hear her say it, it was nice, deep down inside me, it felt nice to hear my name said between the lips of a person. I don’t hear it a lot and because of that I am uncomfortable with it. Some days I wish I had a normal name and didn’t have to repeat it to strangers.

You would think at 22 a person would be used to their own name?

Stick around…