My Experience Choosing a University

My experience of choosing a university wasn’t exactly easy. Having gone into my first year of sixth form with an odd goal of studying medical science – only odd, since this doesn’t suit my character at all – I was studying vastly different courses with no sense of direction at all.

In my desperation to find a university, I visited the bio-labs of at least five universities. I even considered an eight-hour trek to Bath Spa to study a course that had a title I didn’t really understand.

It was very close to my Personal Statement deadline that I realised I wanted to study English Literature and Creative Writing. I had been writing my whole life, and studying the creative writing A Level taught me to really love learning, too.

I scoured for a long time over the universities I had already visited for a creative writing course, although none had struck me as a perfect match. The moment I set foot in York St John’s grounds, I knew that this was where my future would play out.

The campus alone is beautiful. The tutors were kind and welcoming on my open day. The students who shared their experiences in accommodation were all genuinely impassioned about the uni. The uni isn’t huge, and that’s a perfect match for me – everything is close together, in a friendly and vibrant community.

The most important thing about finding your course and university is that it suits you well. When you find the right place for you, you will feel it.

Appearance Hermit – What Not To Do When You Wax Your Face Off

Appearance hermit

Let’s get right into it shall we? I bought the wrong strips and waxed a pretty big percentage of my own SKIN off my face yesterday. It looks pretty comical; it feels pretty grim. ‘Why are you broadcasting your skill for facial abrasion when you could be hiding your peely mug under a Primark bag?’ you might ask. Because I don’t want to live my life like a child labour produced t-shirt, my sweet friend.

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This blog post does have more to it than my pain, which although amusing isn’t really worth dwelling on much. More significantly, I will dwell on my problematic reaction to this new facial injury.

The reaction, if you’re wondering, was: I cannot leave this flat. I will never, ever leave this flat.

Whilst I do have enough food in my fridge to last me until this mess heals, and no dire need to go outside, why was my first response to put myself under house arrest for a red top lip? If anything, I’ve proved Veet can do a pretty solid job, it managed to rid me of my moustachal twigs and that pesky skin that seems to, well y’know, make up my entire fucking face.

In my (not-so) blissful days of youth a spot was enough to deter me from getting on the school bus. Then when cystic acne hit it was enough to deter me from leaving the house at all. This experience applies to a lot of adolescents – something weird on your face means you stay in one place. There’s a pretty big pressure on teenagers to sort their skin right out. Freederm’s adverts haven’t been too subtle in suggesting that your social life will blossom once you get rid of those blackheads, or at least, once you’ve got rid of the feeling of inadequacy that comes along with them. This Neutrogena ad is a bit less obvious, shows a girl hiding her face with her clothes, because why have a spotty face when you can cosplay red riding hood every day.

If you’re dismissing this as a feminazi piece on how Boots is conspiring against women, then you’re probably not much fun at parties. The reclusive reaction to skin troubles is not gender specific. Whilst female targeted Glamour Magazine supplies articles on how to deal with ‘adult acne’, Men’s Health Magazine runs the unpleasant headline ‘5 Reasons You Still Get Zits as a Grown-Ass Man’ – as if hyperbole and hyper-masculine ‘grown ass m[e]n’ are impenetrable to spots.

Whilst skincare products are designed to make you feel more confident, these advertisements work by creating self-consciousness. If Clearasil launched a campaign saying you looked completely fine despite your blemishes, there would be no demand for their products. The ‘you’re not good enough unless your skin is clearer than an A4 sheet of paper’ method of advertising accommodates room in the market for hilariously unnecessary products. One even serves to electronically brush your skin – thanks Clarisonic? This sketch about toothbrush marketing from the Mitchell and Webb look  sums up advertising anxiety more eloquently than I can.

Selfie culture contributes to feelings of inadequacy as a double edged sword. Whilst promoting body confidence Instagram also offers some deceptive filters. Although I think the ability to make yourself look fab using Valencia is a really positive self-esteem booster, I’ve recently caught myself judging the severity of a skin imperfection by whether its visible on my front camera – whether I still feel comfortable taking photos of myself. The insanely powerful Youtube video ‘YOU LOOK DISGUSTING’ shows user Em Ford (MyPaleSkin) comparing hate comments she received once she started posting photos of her face without makeup versus the kind comments she receives whilst in full makeup –  despite this kindness, she is accused of ‘false advertising’ and ‘misleading’. Whether natural or living up to beauty standards, according to public opinion she is in the wrong.

So what do you do if you’ve fucked up waxing, or got eyelash extensions from a dodgy salon that have messed up your eyelids, or given yourself a chemical burn with a cleansing treatment? (all, coincidentally, things I’ve put my poor face through).

Well, social media and skincare advertisements suggest that you must sacrifice your soul to the appearance overlord – you are now worth nothing. Your face is stupid and blotchy, you will have spoiled cabbages tossed at you as you walk the streets to reach your dermatologist, who will laugh in your pepperoni pizza visage and tell you that you may as well wax off the rest of your skin – at least you could land a pretty good gig as a membraneless glob in the new season of x-files.

Or, you could quit doing weird shit to your face. Let the world know that you made a twat move, but you’ve still got to work, you’ve still got to live. I’ll be damned if I can’t buy a coffee because my reflection in its dark, milkless depths is a bit flakier than normal.

Shit Memory and University – A Student Guide

My A Levels were based on regurgitating facts. Unfortunately not literal regurgitation, I was always ready for that in the exam hall. But having a terrible memory meant I couldn’t remember who I’d spoken to two minutes ago, let alone the chi squared formula.

After years of trying to force myself into biology, and years of not remembering what the fuck peritoneal dialysis was, I found my happiness in creative writing, and decided to study it at university. Less memory was needed. I could even use my shitty memory as source material – like I am right now.

Remembering everyone you meet in Freshers is hard enough without memory problems – so here are five tips for keeping tabs on all the stuff you might forget.

LISTS AND ALARMS

To Do lists are the go-to of bad memory. Ticking off your achievements also provides something akin to sexual satisfaction, which can never really be frowned upon. Without a tick list I was forced to wear the same pair of jeans for a week and a half – something I prefer to do voluntarily. Smartphone alarms are great for this too, set them with lists in the description, for your oven timings, for brushing your teeth, for taking medication, for going outside, for crymaxing. For maximum effectiveness use the most irritating ringtone possible – rage always remembers.

THREES AND COPIES

One To Do list is fab, but three – Wait. Who needs three to do lists?  Anyone who loves themselves enough for triple-tick satisfaction, my sweet friend. Making copies is never a bad thing. Try buying a diary, a calendar and a week planner. Sync that shit up and you’ve got three reminders, one for your bag, one for your home and one for your work space. Everywhere you look you will be reminded of your imminent adult responsibilities – dreamy.

DRINKIN’

Well, you shouldn’t really. That’s the gist of it. But its Freshers and you’re probably gonna get smashed a bit, or a lot. Memory blackouts are made impressively worse by alcohol and drugs, if you insist on doing either of those things then you should keep a diary. Write what happens on that day as it happens, this means blackouts can be recounted for. By no means do I expect you to document your bezzie mate chundering all over the floor in Popworld – because it’s likely you already have if you have Snapchat. Snapchat is a subtle (and free) weapon for tackling goldfish memory. Snapchat it all; the predrinks, the mess, the hangover. You will forever have evidence of your night – and an annoyingly long story for everyone else to click off.

TELL UR MATES

Shit memory is a weird thing, you never really notice it until your friends roll your eyes as you start telling the same story for the fifth time that day. But your friends are there because they want to be. If you’re forgetful then they already know. If you’re more than just forgetful then they definitely know. Having support after memory blackouts and iffy spells means you always have a recovery file. This is especially great if you confuse your dreams with the events of the day – friends can always judge whether you’d survive getting stabbed by a skinny clown in real life.

CALL WHO YOU LOVE

Make a list of the people who matter to you, tick their name once you’ve checked in with them that day. Bathe in the tick stimulation. It’s fairly common to forget whether you’ve spoken to the people you love recently. Luckily you’ll never really forget the people you value – occasionally just their second names, and a few birthdays.

The Orchestrated Man

This form of thought wasn’t chosen by me,

My internal narrator enjoys poetry

More than I. I tire of these rhymes,

But the words don’t seem to stagger out of my mind

unless in pairs. Noah’s elephants holding trunks.

Self-aware. I speak in stories within stories.

Shedding light on past glories

masked by alliterative allegories.

My wisdom is garnered from memories,

perhaps that’s why

“I’m breaking up

 

With you”

Fast forward: Train platform, sounds blurred.

Toes folded over the ledge

like this dog-eared page edge.

‘Did he jump?’ You wonder.

Crowds gasp, on we plunder.

But back, back some time,

We’ll steer these train lines

Through the Misery Years

Onto Joy, via Fears.

And please

Stop

Rhyming.

 

We’re climbing now,

Through unstable fables.

Fiction hides the pain I’ve gained,

Mistakes I’ve made, truths mislaid.

I can sing my life in ciphers

But I can’t write the final chapters,

Or spit out the closing stanzas

Whilst fighting the urge to fall into

Cynicism, vague symbolism.

But these crumpled notes scrawl their way out of a violin’s interior,

With strings pulled taut

like a ventricular chamber choir’s.

Tell me,

how much longer can you listen

To a bow without resin

Drawing a single, solitary song

From the wooden frame of a man,

 

A boy, who once learnt to feel in rhymes

But never learnt how to

Stop.

What It Means to Get Out Of Bed

What it means to get out of bed – Zoe Buckton (for #timetotalk day)

You’ve hit snooze five times, rolled over.

Had your first coffee/pill/smoke, whatever you’re into.

Your feet are touching the ground,

But they’d rather rest on mattress springs.

The world isn’t as warm as the sheets,

neither are the people.

Your eyelids sting. They’d rather be shut

than to see todays to do list, today’s lunch.

Maybe it’s not worth going.

Maybe I should just stay.

Maybe you’re right, It is much easier to waste away

when your mind says outside isn’t safe.

No pain ever came to you in bed, right?

Yet it’s there you stay when the sickness bugs bite,

With a bowl, some blankets, no sign of light.

It’s where you’ve spent heartbreak and grief.

It’s where you’ve spent most of your days asleep.

No pain ever came to you in bed,

but it didn’t leave, either.

You have to wake,

for work, for uni, for friends, for life.

You’re stood, your breathing.

You’re alive.

 

Knocking on The Door

WRITING TASK: Develop a character based on your classmates motivations for writing. Write a 200-300 word short story, based on a writer finishing a story, script or poem when there is a knock at the door.  You must use the ‘writer’ character you have developed.

She tongue-twists a few mouthfuls of dead air.

DOORS CLOSING

Is this what those kids feel like? When they strap the backpack on? Do they know how to feel?

The matchbox drags upwards.

Forgetting her cigarette she thinks she can see doom floating around the elevator, seeping up under the lightbulbs

She almost slips into believing the movie cliché, the big build up to the false fall. But she knows better than that. The protagonist won’t escape this time – neither will she.

 

 

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TENTH FLOOR

He steps inside on cue. One ye peers out from beneath its brow, the other remains sandwiched between a sickly green bump.

I loved him once.

This agent cyclops, staring at her with pitiful honesty. He’d been right, and the company was deserving of his betrayal, but she couldn’t live knowing his hands had been responsible for the death of so many. Those fingers wrapped around so many necks. The mark of their wedding ring on piles of corpses. She’d agreed to meet him here; to die here.

“I know what this is” He says.

“I very much doubt that.” She replies.

They wait for the cable to be snapped. In the news it will be reported as a tragic accident.

He stretches his hand to hers. She closes her eyes and waits for the sound. Bracing herself.

She imagines a hundred cats abseiling down a chalk board.

 

KNOCK KNOCK

 

Something’s wrong.

 

KNOCKKNOCKKNOCK

 

You can’t knock on a lift door.

Where is the crash? The breaking of bones?

CREAK

She opens her eyes. She is alive. There is light. There is coffee – everywhere.

“Are you fucking kidding me, John? The sign is on the door. It’s right there.” She mumbles.

“It’s 8am. You have work in an hour”

“I slept through my alarm?” she peels her face off the laptop, Dead Sea facemask crusted onto the keys.

“You must’ve done. Jesus, you’ve ruined those sheets.” She pulls back the blankets in horror, the coffee sticks the fabric to her arms. It’s a shame caffeine doesn’t absorb through pores.

The bed has more sheets of paper than bedsheets. A half-finished story about a CIA agent sits in the bin deemed too clichéd, self-proclaimed drivel. Trash rap is still blaring from the tangled headphones, the cable almost snapped.

“I had a nightmare”

“What happened?”

“I was trapped in a falling lift with some spy guy”

John rolls his eyes, “You should write that down.”

 

Lost and Found – Stepping away from them

Found poery by Diane Beckalive now blackout poem by kevin harrell

Found Poetry is a form of writing created by collecting phrases and words from around you and reframing them with a new meaning. Modern found poetry often takes the form of blacked out sentences in books (blackout poetry), book titles arranged in particular orders on shelves, and perhaps most threateningly, cut out and stuck down words from magazines (inescapably stalker-ish, I’m afraid). As part of my Introduction to Creative Writing module, I was asked to have a go.

Luckily my class was not asked to bring the latest People magazine and get to work with the scissors. Our found poetry was influenced by Frank O’ Hara’s ‘A Step Away from Them’. The poem takes place in the confines of our narrator’s lunch break and is imagery-heavy; combining description, voiced naturalistic thought and words taken from the narrators surroundings (ie: BULLFIGHT signs).  My class was asked to write a found poem based on what happened in our lunch break, beginning with the time and location. Here is my piece and some photos of what I ‘found':

women transforming livesnew

11 AM in York.
A Tuesday filled with automatic doors
I reside in my cubicle behind hand dryer sensors,
Feminine hygiene dispensers.
The doors are plastered in yellow pages:
Sexual health, Domestic Abuse, Child Line.
All with the tagline
‘Women transforming lives’.

 

more food than peopleI exit
Following behind the boy in striped trousers
(Luckily not pyjamas)His flimsy toothpaste legs squeeze and flop towards the canteen,
Crammed with more food than people, like sardines.
The guilt of sitting without buying pushes me out of my seat.
So I stand in line:
We’re sorry for any convenience.

 

more food than ppl 2My card is declined.
I return, having gained an audience of Hugh Jackmans;
knives and forks clutched between knuckles,
wolverine-sniffing at my wasted time.
As I’m asked to transcript my thoughts they seem to disappear.
Into neat, existing slots.
PLEASE LEAVE TRAYS HERE.

 

Thanks for reading, leave a comment below!
Zoe xxx

How To: Write Your First Blog Post!

[I have no idea how to write my first blog post, you’ve been misled, I am so sorry]

But maybe we can improvise, we can figure it out, right?

[I’m pretty sure you start your first blog post with an introduction, that feels pretty natural.] Here goes nothing:

My names Zoe, I’m 18 and studying Creative Writing and English Literature at York St John University.

[Then I think you add some pictures to split up all the boring text, the ones that make life look a bit more ‘aesthetic’ than it really is.]  The man fixing my light bulb is sceptically watching me crop a photo of myself covered in powderpaint. Is it this blogging?

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[I think after that you talk to the internet strangers (Y’know, the ones your parent’s said you shouldn’t talk to but your university said you should definitely talk to) all about yourself]

I’m a writer. I’m obsessed with metafiction and experimental writing. I treat my house plants like family and treat my family like house plants, I pour water on them so they stay hydrated.

[I don’t know how much information you should give but this seems like a healthy amount.]

I love feedback on my work and feeding back on other people’s work. My favourite book is A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I value self love more than pretty much everything and my general life goal is to stop people putting themselves down. I really love body shock horror films and their displacement of people’s feelings (and limbs) but you probably think that’s gross or that I love gore porn so we’ll leave that for a future post. I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan and I secretly love Robbie Williams. I’ve worked for MI6 for seventeen years.

[Insert more pictures]

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[I’m going to tell the internet strangers what I’m gonna be posting in the future, you can do this too if you know what you’re going to be posting in the future.] Do you know what you’ll be posting in the future? What does your future hold? Will you ever become a famous blogger? Will you survive the next seven days?

I’m going to be using this blog to post work from my degree module ‘Intro to Creative Writing’ and some of my more personal work – hopefully some film reviews and weird opinions will pop up. If you’re into this then leave a comment and let me know what you wanna see next!

[Now it’s time to say goodbye]

Hope you’re having a lovely day,

Zoe x

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