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2017 in hindsight

by M

Every year I try and reflect back on the past 12 months and write about it. In 2014 I wrote a paragraph or two about some of the highlights of the year, in 2015 I wrote a long text and in 2016 I didn't write at all, even though I meant to - I just realised I had nothing nice to say. But it was exactly* 4 years ago today I wrote a post called Dear 2013, and it was that post that I went back and read earlier today in order to find some inspiration for this. Because in many ways 2017 is the heir to 2013's legacy; and it was undoubtedly the happiest year since then.


The year was off to a different start: a month and a half of school break which I filled with different experiences - an impromptu trip to Paris, watercolours, learning how to sew and kicking off my driver's license lessons. The first half of the year saw me running back and forth between Lisbon and here. I found myself growing closer and closer to my uni friends back there, with that bittersweet feeling you have when you know you'll be leaving soon... But we enjoyed Spring in the capital to the fullest. Lunches and beer at the park, nights out, ice cream after class, beach days, sunsets by the river and that one time we literally ran away from a class which had barely just started to go sunbathe downtown. Through alleyways and cobblestone sidewalks, tube and train rides, mornings spent at Starbucks and nights that ended after the sun had risen, 2017 had me falling head over heels for that city and its light. But we were doomed from the start, Lisbon and me. So by June I packed all my stuff and left; my room and my tiny office stripped of all things me, the place which I called home for 9 months and knew I wouldn't be that ever again. So I came back home and got ready for a Summer filled with lasts and goodbyes. I tried to be with my friends as often as possible and that came with some disappointment and some good surprised alike. I couldn't have possibly known that Lara—the closest friend I had for the past 3 years—would let me go just like that and a 5 minute goodbye, nor that it would be Rachel, at last, that would hold me as I sobbed, just a few days before leaving. I made sure to go ride as much as I could, counting down the days I still had at the barn. The place where I usually felt the most at ease became laced with the anguish of farewell. Many tears were shed, but at least I know I was the best rider that I could've possibly been. Riding wasn't the hardest goodbye, it was the longest see you soon, because I still don't know when that soon is.


If there's one thing that 2017 brought me was growth, in its purest way. Growing is letting go of people and things that hold you back. It's making friends and meeting new people, and becoming more understanding and tolerant through that. It’s forming opinions and holding values and learning to stand up for those. Growing is doing laundry and cleaning the toilet, but it's also teaching your brain how to be alone with yourself. Growing is finding home 300 or 1600kms away from home, but first and foremost within yourself. It’s learning how to accept yourself and be proud of the things that make you, you, flaws and all. It is learning to honour my feelings instead of avoiding them. Growing is finding out that things aren't neither ephemeral nor everlasting, but somewhere in between. They come and they go and what is truly important is making the most while they're here—and not holding grudges if they end. Growing is learning to be grateful and forgiving, and finding out that those are the things that bring you ease. It’s understanding that things you love the most make for the hardest battles. They’ll leave you bruised and bleeding, but they’re worthwhile. This year, I had to make hard decisions and I made them regardless of the shake in my hands, the knot on my throat and the tears in my eyes. Through sleepless nights and constant, persistent worrying I didn't let myself be caught up in self-doubt and the fear of unknown. And through it all there was a smile on my face and a spring in my step, because no matter how hard or how many goodbyes, I saw dreams come true. In a sense, growing was also coming back to myself. Putting things into perspective, prioritising the things that make me so intrinsically me. Like the maniac creative and the too-excitable equestrian and the weirdo—I gathered up all the versions of myself and become who I am through who I already was. And that’s when I found peace of mind and utter yet simple happiness.


In many ways, this was a transitional year. Back in January, I knew that 2017 would be a special one. The one thing I saw looking forward was that by the end of the year I might be living in London, my life turned upside down. And now, looking forward, I see… nothing. A completely blank canvas, a year that is starting unlike any other before—and that’s both terrifying and exciting. There are so many and so ambitious things I want for 2018, and if I’ll take anything from this past year is that if you want it enough they might just come true. And if nothing else, I’m just grateful for another first class trip around the sun.


Buckle up.


Here we go.


*I started writing this post December 30th




by M

I sat down at my desk just a little over a year ago trying to write my personal statement. The first sentence is the most important, was the main advice I'd gathered from my extensive research. I am known for sucking at introductions, so a few attempts later with a bit of frustration I stopped to think about it. I said to myself: stop trying to impress them, just be honest and authentic. These were my first few sentences:


On August 6th 2015, a Facebook post raised 150.000£ and filled four warehouses with item donations almost overnight. That post changed thousands of lives at the Calais Refugee Camp. I stumbled upon this information earlier this year, when my worry about the ongoing refugee crises spiked. From that moment on, I realized how much of a powerful tool the media are in social awareness, and ultimately social change.


And just like that I had a catchy first sentence and an engaging introduction, because I was writing from my heart. It was no news for anyone when I chose media, but it might've been a little bit of news for myself. Because suddenly I had a reason, a purpose that was pulling me this way. And then I put on my tough coat and my resilience boots and packed my bags and came to London. But it's been almost a year and a very hectic one for sure. I've told you how it felt after all these years dreaming and hoping to be here, finally being able to take a deep breathe (although still panting), and you find youself asking now what? Eventually you've settled down and got used to it and somehow you feel a bit lost because you're not quite sure where to turn to.


When I saw Jack's post on instagram I reminded myself this is what it's like to be living in London - where things happen, where everything happens. It's about swaying on swingsets with Jane at Tate Modern, watching the sun set over the skyscrapers at Primrose Hill, walking around Camden Market with Katya, eating chips in Covent Garden with Vendy and somedays it's about doing it all by yourself. Like booking tickets to this exhibition, and it just so happens to be a photography (which I love) exhibition about the refugee crisis (which I'm so passionate about) by Jack Harries (one of the people who has inspired me the most growing up and that continues to inspire me everyday). 


So the whole day I was wondering about it, like a song playing at an annoying volume in the back of my mind. I kept asking myself what will you say when really what is there not to be said? What words to prioritise? And so I went and there were butterflies in my stomach the whole time. But then I saw those photos and I instantly felt the way it always makes me feel: a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and I just want to YELL at the world and PUNCH it in the face. Shake the West by the shoulders and scream THERE IS ALL THIS BLOOD IN YOUR HANDS WHEN WILL YOU NOTICE. But really you just stand there in awe. Looking at these pictures of these people that are people just like us and whom are paying the price of crimes they not only didn't commit, but were victim to. Hoping no one will notice your watery eyes and the shake in your hands. And you feel useless. And then it occurred to me that they must've felt it too. Alice and Jack spent months collecting these pictures from various spots across Europe, witnessing the suffering and despair first hand. Just then I knew what to say. I asked how do I take all this ANGER and RAGE and put into something effective and how to I find a way to make that voice be heard. And Jack told me (cannot believe my own words) that I need to let that passion take me to the places so that I can see and speak up and that the world is at the tip of my fingers with social media if only we have the guts. That I don't need anyone else but me to just go and start. Just like it only took Jaz one day trip to Calais and one Facebook post to change and save lives in the Jungle refugee camp. At this point I was ready to leave the building and sit on a bench crying because what is life and then I literally run into Jaz walking in and I was like WHAT IT IS LIFE HONESTLY.


Everything came full circle today. Like, 4 years ago I was trapped in a town that I hated, with dreams too big to be fulfiled there. 2 years ago I was utterly lost and had no idea what to do with my life. And now I'm here, following those dreams in a city that opens doors instead of shutting them, carving my own path in a direction that is still somewhat unknown but is definitely heading somewhere. I am here for all of these reasons: the kid who watched JacksGap on school breaks with friends, the kid who played with MovieMaker when she was bored, the kid who asked for a DSLR on her 15th birthday, the kid who decided to do media for social change. All of these brought me here. I brought me here. And if I keep listening to that kid, who knows where it'll take me.


I am so grateful.

I woke up an hour before my alarm with sunrays seeping beneath the curtains, casting a glow on these otherwide dull walls. Despite having gone to bed at 4am, I decided to get up and have a shower, get the day going. I had to clean the toilet (which I hate) and then the soap dispenser fell and broke. There was soap and glass all over my freshly cleaned bathroom. I don't have a mop so I had to cause a flood with the shower head in order to clean it all up properly. I was annoyed but I didn't let it ruin the day, so I took a deep breath and got it over with. Then I played some fall tunes and sang along for awhile while I tidied up the bedroom. I ran out of coffee but I told myself I deserved to indulge after the previous events, so I went downstairs to the café next door and spent 3.2£ on a soy cappuccino but oh boy was it worth it. It tastes like every fall morning should, foamy, bitter with a hint of sweetness. 

I need to get back to my reading now.





by M

swinging on a swingset with jane at tate modern. movements coordinated, the short length of our hair swept by speed, the smiles on our faces and we tried to speak but kept being interrupted by laughs.

my fondest memory of london so far.

  • did some reading on the college green with jane. the sun 🌞 was setting and casting a lazy light 🌇 on the man building and in ourselves. it was so very quiet apart from the trees rustling 🍃 in the background. i finished my reading 📖  and just lied on the grass 🌱🌾 soaking up the last bits of day light.

  • on another less poetic note, my ikea orders fINALLY came in! it felt like christmas 🎄, i swear. it was a big ass box 📦 and when i got to my block will was standing outside waiting for a friend and offered to carry it for me upstairs 🙌🏼👌🏼. when i got to my room i put on some music 🎶 like the neighbourhood, my chem and muse (!!! it's been YEARS 👵🏼).

  • i'm probably way too hyped up for a sunday evening 🤔.



by M

some days you live The Student Life™ some days you are practically a housewife. today I

  • did my laundry
  • cleaned the toilet
  • went to the bank
  • made a complaint
  • had lunch with the girl squad
  • made soup



the future is now

by M

every once in a while i pop over onto my old blog, choose a month or a year, and go through what I wrote at the time. i don't think back then i realized how precious it was that i was documenting such a long period of my life, especially one that involved so much changing and growing. i'm so glad that i did. in a lot of ways my writing has improved and somehow matured. i used to blog as if it were a journal; and to a certain extent i still do, but now it's more like sporadic wordvomit on things that i can't get out of my mind, or rambles, or something that i know i'll want to remember in the future.


anyway, today i was reading some stuff from 2013 which in hindsight was kind of a turning point in my life. nineth grade was so much fun, an explosive cocktail of hormones and childishness with sprinkles of friendship on top. and dreams, god knows i had dreams bursting through my seams and i truly felt like anything was possible. i was invincible somehow. and then high school came, and with it self doubt and disappointment and a lack of motivation that weighed about 70 tons and that stupid town sucking the soul right out of me. high school was shit and all i wanted was to get away and see the world, volunteer in costa rica, do a spiritual retreat in south-eastern asia, move to lisbon, runaway. but then it didn't happen and i went straight into uni, half-heartedly, angry and not knowing what to expect. when i settled down i came in here and formally apologised to my 14 year-old self and moved on.


i learned a big lesson on how no matter how much you plan (and god knows i love me some planning) things don't always turn out the way you want or expected them to, but that's okay. that doesn't mean you have to give up. you just carve your way through this new direction you're headed and you might actually find that you like the trail and the views and the people who show up in the way. i loved lisbon already, but living there grew on my like wild flowers on the sidewalk. it feels like home in a way that my town never will. it was an avid love affair, lisbon and me. like flirting with life, saying 'i could stay and love you but i kinda want to go now'. 


i guess bottom line is: a year later, i have nothing to be sorry about. the 14 year-old in me is thrilled and frolicking through life with a spring in her step. i took shortcuts and rocky roads to get here, but i did. i spent the last 4 years dreaming of this and now that i'm here i feel a bit like this gif:


because this was the ultimate goal, the whole time. a pipe dream, i guess. but now i'm here and for the first time i have no other plans other than living every day as it comes. i have lost my ability to make long-term plans, somehow. people insist on asking what do i want to do after i graduate. first of all, i have been here for 3 freaking weEKS like what the fuck. please chill. second of all, i have no idea and there's something incredibly liberating about it. because it's not like i'm lost and confused, rather i see a world of options and opportunities unraveling and for now sorry but i can't pick one thing out of the million possibilities. simultaneously, i haven't felt this inspired in a very long time. every day i get to my room and all i want is to write and paint and draw. as i said, high school was shit and in a way uni last year, although incomparably better, was still pretty dull. i am SO DONE labelling myself; i won't ever let anyone else put me in a box and say 'this is where you belong now'. the box is always too small and uncomfortable and some corners stink. yeah, a part of me might fit the box, but i'm so much more beyond that. i belong in a million more boxes, or rather in no box at all. and honestly i don't give a fuck about your expectations.

I remember being a silly 13 year old sleeping over at my grandparents' when I had a fallout with one of my best friends. My sister and I stayed up talking in the dark, like girls do. I was so frustrated and I remember she told me that nothing last forever. I was so angry then, at the world for being so mean and at her, because deep down I knew she was right. But I refused to settle for that and thought maybe I could one day prove her wrong.


Fast forward a few years later to the beginning of high school. I had lost touch with that friend and on my way to lose touch with some others (not to spoil it for you, that's what happens). Clinging onto friendships that were void and running after people who clearly didn't want to be run after. And then it hit me; one day I woke up and I realized I had conformed after all. I had learn the hard way that, in fact, nothing lasts forever. Especially not people. They come and go from your life like tides, ironically, pulled by the moon. 


By this time I had fully developped a slight obsession with the moon. Other than an inexplicable fascination that had always (and still does) drawn me into it, it was this sense of belief that when everything comes and goes, the moon stays. Even when you can't see it, you know it's there, as cliché as it sounds. And that brought me a new found hope that maybe, one day, I might find something that stayed too, eventually. 


I've spent these past few years making peace with the idea that everything is ephemeral and, furthermore, that that's okay. That the things which come into your life are brought with God's purpose, a lesson to learn, to make you wiser and, often, kinder. And that when the time comes it's okay to let them go and be grateful that they were ever in your life in the first place. But somewhere in the process of letting go I lost the ability to let in. Nobody ever tells you that--they remind you how important what it is to let go, but they don't teach you how to ever let people and opportunity in again. How to welcome it with a smile and say I'm happy you're here now, no matter how long you stay. So I closed myself up, built myself a shell and kept things out. People especially. 


I have talked about it before, how my life these past few of months feels like the closing of a chapter, a season finale if you will. Hell, this past year since high school ended and even more so now that I am moving away for real. I'm trying my best to not let change and the fear of the unknown petrify me. I'm letting it sweep me off my feet one step of a time and trying to hold on through this ride, take the best from it, learn and grow. And it's been bittersweet, but undoubtedly sweeter than bitter. Something I've been doing is paying attention to all of those little things we take for granted in everyday life but that now, I see, are ephemeral, too, in their own way. Quality time with the family, for instance, staying a little longer at the barn, trying harder not to postpone dinners with friends. I made a list of things that make home home. I wrote about coming back here and my nights up in the attic, lying on the floor, writing. Just like today, like right now. It's 4:00am and it feels like the whole town is asleep a part from myself, tucked away in this little safe haven, a tad bit closer to the sky (to the moon). It's been a time of introspection and retrospection. A whirlwind of emotions and thoughts that have been haunting me for the past months and which I fail to put into words, like they're in a different language somehow. 


Truth is something has felt different for a while now. I feel like the move to Lisbon shook my world just enough to put things into a different perspective. And when they finally settled into place, there was a new order, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Everything changed in my daily life and with that something finally changed within me, too, and suddenly I feel like I figured it out. I was just lying here on the carpet, staring at the ceiling and I had this sudden urge to listen to Mine. I put it on and it was like the sound of pieces falling into place. 


It's that I found that somethings are not ephemeral, after all. That sitting here crying listening to Taylor Swift doesn't feel all that different from what it did back in 2010. That I'm still the same girl with a passion for words and an urge to write them down and dreams that could never be contained within the sum of my parts. That it's been a while but I still feel the same. That, perhaps most surprisingly, some people are gone indeed, but most have stayed. That like Mags said time passes and, sometimes, things just don't change. Things like Speak Now playing in the background or this goddamned attic that's been the stage for my late night mental breakdowns through the years, or the nights talking with my sister in the dark.


And yes, this things will too come to an end, one day. Maybe we'll sell the house. Maybe C and I won't share bedrooms anymore. Maybe I'll grow out of Taylor Swift, although I highly doubt it. Maybe these friends will become acquaintances at some point. But for once, that's okay. Because while they last, no matter how long or how little, they are infinite in their nature. Some kind of energy that cannot be destroyed and therefore cannot end, but only renewed. Recycled in that I will carry a part of all these things and moments and people with me throughout the rest of my life, for they have shaped me and will continue to do so.




on manchester

by M

Last night I went to bed hours later than planned. I stayed up going through the updates, refreshing all pages hoping really hard it had only been an accident. A speaker blew up, I thought. Some sort of technical failure. Then, around 1:30am the police said it had been a suicide bombing and they were treating it as a terrorist attack until further evidence. The truth is from the moment the police took charge, evacuating the Victoria Station and all, deep down I knew. Deep down we all knew, because we have grown accustomed, familiar even. 


When I finally put my phone down I found myself wondering, for what seems like the millionth time in the last couple of years, how do we go on. How do I get up tomorrow knowing it could've been me or one of my friends? How do those families move on when they won't see their kids ever again? How do we live our lives wondering where next?, who next? It's like we live as though life were a minefield.


But life does carry on somehow. For us, at least; the survivors. I had nightmares about it and when the alarm went off I didn't even hit snooze, for once. I picked up my phone and went through the updates, which were only agravated numbers of what I'd read prior. To be honest I didn't even know what I was looking for... It feels profoundly useless and hopeless to stand here watching as the world as we know it worsens before our eyes. I wore all black today and not for a moment did this leave the back of my mind. As I waited for my instructor at the driving school, I didn't open whatsapp to send Lara and Q a complaining selfie. At uni I thought my friends didn't know because everything was the same. I didn't scroll through instagram in class but rather through the Guardian. But once again, aimlessly.


It felt as though the only thing I could do for those people and their families and friends was keeping them on my mind and heart the whole day, mourning. Knowing every second that my day went on, it could've not. Because it could've been me, over and over again. Or my friends or pretty much anyone I know.


I think for some reason this things hit me harder than most people. Maybe it's because I'm not sheltered by the safety of that stupid small town anymore, or maybe because I'm leaving to one of the most targeted cities in the near future. I know people who live in Manchester, and people who's friends were at the concert. And so far it seems everyone is safe, thankfully, but it was mere luck.


I can't keep myself from wondering when will my luck run out.


weekend snippets

by M

i have an above-average ability to be myself & i think that weekend really proved it it.


on friday i stayed home until sunset and then went to the supermarket to buy ingredients for soup. then i made soup and watched a film after dinner.


on saturday i had breakfast and lunch at one of my favorite cafés, tartine, and also finished most of my notes for uni. i shopped for awhile before coming back home, just before the city went bananas with the football finals. i made myself a chocolate mugcake and stayed up late watching the eurovision results, making the video and overall falling for amar pelos dois, which i didn't expect to. it never felt lonely because i was texting my sister, whatsapping with Lara and Q and speaking to London people on facebook.


sunday saw a late start and a lot of lazying. i spent too much time on whatsapp gossiping and eventually had to go to leave the house if i wanted to get any work done. i went to fábrica, which is also one of my favorite cafés in town and i knew it doesn't have wifi which helped through 7 pages of the worst text ever. it got so boring i felt compelled to order carrot cake and then walked back home. 


and eventually mariana got home and the weekend was over. here are some snippets: