Category Archives: Writing

leaving brighton

When I first moved here, it wasn’t so much a case of, “going to Brighton”, as it was, “leaving Leicester”. I felt, perhaps naively, that moving 150 miles away from what I believed to be the cause of all my misery and misfortune to that point would make me happy. Happier, at least.

I wasn’t wrong.

I have always loved Brighton. The first time I visited, in 2006, I wrote a letter to my best friend saying that we should move here. I thought it was magic: it had pastel houses, the sea, little shops. It didn’t have my family. I fell in love. The first time I came I bought a pair of pink and black striped shoes and a Billy Talent CD. That’s how young I was.

But I was tethered to Leicester, and burdened with a dog I couldn’t move away for University. So I stayed. My last year there was my worst: I was sexually assaulted. My friend died. I got really, really sick. I learned the true, awful extent of my childhood. All of this culminated and I barely finished my degree, despite it being in a topic that I still work in now. That year was difficult, and I honestly did not want to live. One of the only things that kept me alive was the idea that in just a few months I could move, finally, to Brighton.

Barely weeks after I handed in a dissertation that almost didn’t get written, my boyfriend, dog and I headed to the coast. We spent five days in Brighton looking for a house. We found one. It was shit, but it wasn’t in Leicester. A week later we moved into it, and I spent the summer working in cafés and shops and scraping by. I missed my friends, a lot, but they visited. I went to California. I felt free.

I did my MA in Brighton, and it wasn’t easy. My friends moved here, and that was fun. I made new friends. I fell into a way of living that wasn’t only comfortable, but was 150 miles from everything that hurt me back home. It wasn’t perfect; I was still trapped with my own not-great health and brain, I still met some absolute scumbags, I still had to deal with my family. But I am so, so far from them.

I am not leaving Brighton because I want to. I am leaving Brighton because it’s the right, proper thing for me to do right now. For me to stay here, when all of my work and meetings are in London, would be irresponsible. I have always known that it was not permanent, and I have always relished the time I have here. I would love nothing more than to sit around writing on the beach and skateboarding on the front every day, but it isn’t realistic. It isn’t sustainable. I have spent six months travelling to London most days for work and it’s come down to: work or Brighton. Me being me, I have chosen work.

So I am taking another leap of faith and I am moving to London. I have been stubborn for a long time, maintaining that I hate the city. Maybe I do, still. But it’s the right time. I am trusting that the friends and work connections I have there will be enough to make me happy. I am trusting that I won’t panic and want to flee to the seaside the second I get a bit sad. I am trusting that the decreased distance between me and anyone blood related to me won’t make any of them expect for me to visit more often. It won’t.

I spent three years in Brighton and it was everything that I could have realistically hoped for. It isn’t perfect. There is plenty that I hate about Brighton, but it’s more of an, “oh, you!” than a soul-crushing hate. It hasn’t always been easy being far from London while trying to work, but my mental health is better than it’s ever been. The space and time has been invaluable in helping me to recover from what was honestly a really fucking difficult, shitty 21 years in Leicester. I can value Leicester when I go back and I do value what being from there has given me, but I fucking hated it. Moving with no money and no work prospects was the right thing to do. It forced me into action.

I had some of the best days and nights of my life here just walking around vaguely tipsy, taking in the lights and the sunset and the sea. I love the sea, and I love to see a sunset here almost half as much as I do in California. I don’t like to be sincere or soppy, but I love Brighton a lot, and it’s hard for me not to feel as if leaving is a failure on my part. Brighton has given me everything that it could, and I am grateful.

And I’ll be back. Let’s just see what London is saying, first.

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2016

At the start of this year I made a list of resolutions, plans, and goals that some of you said was unrealistic; a list that, by and large, I fucking smashed. And then some. I did more than I expected to this year, grew more, worked hard. I’m currently working at VICE, something that a year ago I wouldn’t have even dared to hope for. I did so much stuff, so much of which was really random and cool and surprised me. Some of it was a total coincidence, and some of it happened thanks to my hard work. 2016 has been trash for a lot of reasons for a lot of people, and yeah, a lot of the things that happened to me weren’t ideal. But we’re here and we’re alive and I’m hoping that 2017 will bring me everything that my little heart could dream of; I’m sure I’ll deliver a goals list for then, too, soon enough.

So I wanted to:

Watch more films
Save 8,000 – no I did not do this. I was too busy having fun.
Plan a trip yes – I went to Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Las Vegas, and California
Publish film, poetry, other articles I published at least 100 articles, worked at The Debrief, and now I’m at VICE until February
Start my book finished it, edited it, trying to find an agent for it
Relax/see friends
Stay organised and work hard
Visit Europe
Go to events I went to a lot of events innit
Do an interview
Do a F2F interview
Attend an event as press
Don’t get a shit job for 1 year

And here’s what did happen:

♡ I graduated from my MA
♡ I had my first piece published by Bustle
♡ I interviewed Richard Dreyfuss
♡ I drove for the first time in years and took a trip to Bristol
♡ I had a horrible writing experience that I got over
♡ I started writing for Hello Giggles
♡ I wrote a piece for Pop Matters
♡ I covered Handmade Festival on a press pass
♡ I went to see Weezer for the first time since 2011
♡ I met We Are Scientists On Brighton pier
♡ I got fired by my shithead boss who still hasn’t paid me and didn’t panic
♡ I wrote a few pieces for Dazed
♡ I covered Wild Life festival for Crack magazine
♡ A week after I got fired, I started a project for Nickelodeon with a Brighton company
♡ I continued working at said company and made a ton of friends
♡ My family fell out with me over Brexit
♡ I travelled Europe with my American friend
♡ I worked at The Debrief for 2 weeks
♡ I went to Motion City Soundtrack’s farewell tour
♡ I continued working with Tilt as their main content person
♡ I celebrated my 9 year anniversary
♡ I went to Las Vegas and then California
♡ I interviewed Kreayshawn for Noisey magazine
♡ I went to Teen Party and met some people I like from the internet
♡ I met the editor of my favourite magazine and she offered me an interview
♡ I did interview with Empire, got down to the final 2, then didn’t get the job
♡ I went to Molly Soda’s art show and we hung out, she’s a gem
♡ I went to see Jimmy Eat World
♡ I started working with VICE for three months and got stuff published with them
♡ Wrote for Nylon, The Debrief, and more
♡ I started tweeting my diaries @emodiary05
♡ I started and maintained a ton of projects
♡ I finished my book
♡ I got asked to DJ as emo diary
♡ I went to Sticky Mike’s to be emo and cute a lot
♡ I went to the VICE Christmas party
♡ I’ve been doing ok at Twitter and have some cool followers and I like that ok

AND THE YEAR ISN’T OVER YET LADS

 

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99.

It’s easy enough to say: what’s the point?
when I feel nothing in the interim

Between ecstasy and success, when I have ceased to exist outside of perfunctory actions, moving only to stay alive – but when I stop, and I do stop – I die. I sit mindlessly playing with hearts and wasting my own time. Not that it matters.

I don’t care about you beyond what you can do for me


My love:

Doubtless when we break, either through your sickness or through mine, you will find another love. She will be kind where I was harsh and soft where I am rough; and where I whipped you, she’ll nurse you back to health. It’ll hurt me and it’ll ruin my heart, but it’s true – she will get you up and running out of love.

Or I could always make myself softer


Stop asking what’s next, who else there is, where I can climb – just be, just be, who can we be –

I want nothing more than to stop carrying this
I want nothing more than to be a person


If you offered me success / or that / I know still what I would say
and, well, you know too
and that’s what tends to scare you

Look after yourself when I burn this house down
when I drown my heart just for anything
when I wear out all the clichés
and she – nameless, nice, soft, sweet
can pick you up, can cure the sickness
that I instilled inside you

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96.

When you read this I’ll be in LA 

I don’t know where, exactly – in the last final, dwindling days of vacation I’m sure I’ll try to make the most of the sun. I’m sure I’ll be on a beach, or in Little Tokyo, or getting upset about things that don’t matter at all. I’ll be catching the sun from the window of a car and thinking, already, about all the things that I’ll lose come winter. I won’t have LA to look to, that’s for sure, and I won’t have the freckles or energy that I have in July. Not that I have much then, either – you know my ice-cold hands.

I don’t know if I’ll be sick of my friends or shedding tears over the flight back home. What I do know – what I hope I know – is that I’ll be over it, not obsessively wondering whether you care where I am. Not thinking again about every interaction, every breath, every glance. Not reduced again to a wreck, a person that I never thought I was; how can you see me shiver like that and still respect my strength?

LA is so far from here, and distance is strength

But what of me when I am home? When the blood-stained river, when the Angeles mountains, when the powerlines that I love to obstruct my view are long behind me. Who will I become? I’ll be cold, I’ll be tired – but will I think of you then? Trying to angle my days to make our paths collide. I do not like who I am when I am obsessive, that much is true. If I think of you still when I’ve a thousand palm trees to contend with, I do not know myself as well as I thought I did.

When you read this I’ll be in LA – if you care to read it at all. 

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Europe

Mates! As you may or may not know (if you don’t, you may care to follow my Instagram @mazisthebest) I’m not long back from visiting Europe for nine days. My good friend Brianna came to visit me from the US and after a few days of English fun, we trekked off to visit a few countries neither of us had ever been before. The trip was amazing, beautiful, tiring. We walked 100 miles in nine days. Here are a few of the things we got up to, if you are interested. You might not be. That’s okay.

Amsterdam

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On the 27th of July we headed off to the airport on one hour of sleep with zero minutes to spare, but we made it. The flight was short and sweet, and Amsterdam was beautiful. We explored a great deal, enjoyed the cleanliness and architecture, and met an absolute Dutch gem called Lee who gave us all the top tips. We also visited Bar Moustache for the most stunning breakfast, and then ate crisps for dinner. You can’t always win.

Unbeknownst to us we had a pair of French 18-year-olds staying in our Air BnB who had no interest in being mates and told us our games were shit. The Air BnB was generally a bit grim, but that’s okay.

On our second day we took the ferries to both the NDSM Wharf for a cup of tea and some art, and to the EYE film museum which was amazing. We both made flipbooks and I obviously died for the Spielberg exhibit. After a very rainy day we headed home and had a Wagamama. Home comforts are everything. In the evening we met Lee, who showed us the bars of Amsterdam and was the loveliest tour guide in the world. We got far too merry, met some sweet LA boys, rode a bicycle, and ate chips with Dutch mayonnaise at 4am. Lee is a friend for life, for sure.

Berlin

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So, essentially, we got so merry we woke up at 6:53 for our 7:01 train to Berlin. I mean, it happens. Experiences over money etc etc. We booked new train tickets for 120 euro each (ouch) and got ourselves on our way to Berlin. Bri was too hungover to live on the train and we both attempted to catch up on some much needed sleep. Once in Berlin we threw some clothes on and met my friend Dave and his sister for a beer and more travel tips. Thanks u guys.

After saying our goodbyes we headed to the Berlin Wall where we met some little French schoolkids who just wanted to hug and tell me I had pretty hair. I’ll take it! We walked home slowly and had a McDonald’s at Checkpoint Charlie for dinner because honestly, we were fucking knackered.

On day two in Berlin we had the worst breakfast of anyone’s life and went to a couple of Holocaust memorials. So all in all a pretty miserable morning. We checked out all of the major historical stuff before heading to West Berlin for a protest, a beer, and some graffiti. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sun and wandering before buying beer from a vending machine with no ID (what? Germany, what?) and heading back East for a few drinks and new British friends. Berlin is cute. Thanks Berlin. I feel like I don’t quite understand it, though.

Prague

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After our shortest train (and our most packed) we ended up in beautiful Prague. Initially we were a bit put off (it can get dark down the side streets) but I was quickly won over by ice cream, sunsets, big hills. We climbed to the castle and then to the top of the observation tower, despite being absolutely knackered. Fully knackered. But happy. The sunset is beautiful, Prague is beautiful, and so is our TGI Friday’s dinner.

On the second day we met my friend Alice in the morning for coffee and beer (there’s a theme). I haven’t seen her in years and it was so cute. We were basically done for by this point and opted to have a wander and massages (normal ones) before a little dinner. Prague was good to us.

In the evening we had some drinks and the most beautiful Mexican ever at Las Adelitas. The bartenders were the first actually kind people I had met in Prague (sorry) and the service was perfect. Something I didn’t miss until it was gone, and England isn’t great on that stuff! After five cocktails or so we left to meet my good friend of ten years, Jack. We went to Irish Bars, an Anonymous bar, did some pinching, ran around alleys, did a lot of catching up. Got way too drunk and reenacted Jack’s cabin crew speech in Old Town Square at 2am.

I was not feeling it afterwards.

Budapest

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Again, a near miss with the trains, because I will never learn my lesson. All the way to Budapest I was 90% certain I had literally poisoned myself for good. The train journey did me in. After 7 hours we arrived, the sun was way too hot, I cried. We went to McDonald’s. I cried with joy.

We enjoyed our adorable Air BnB and went to the Baths, which was so cute. Maybe just what I needed after murdering myself from the inside out. Dinner was onion rings for me, because I hate myself.

On the second day we explored fully, climbed some hills, took some buses, had some drinks in the ruin pubs. Budapest was cute.

I had the best time away with my friend, seeing and making new and old friends in every city, learning more European history. It was amazing and I’m glad to be home, but missing Amsterdam the most. I’m sure you’ll see more photos from my trip, yet!

A cute video x

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Orphan

I’ve a confession, I know it’s been a while

I am not unhappy. I know, you could accuse me of repression – and it’s true, I’ve things below the surface. Tell me who doesn’t? Orphan is no longer a dirty word that carries so much weight, and while I still see in black and white, things are lighter. I am more blessed than cursed.

There are things I do miss

I’m a sucker for nostalgia, you know that much. Every string of myself is tied still to a venue, to a field, to a white pair of trainers. I’ll forever remember the sharp stab of alcohol in a classroom, I’ll revere the rivers that made me – but I’ve so much more than then. I am someone I never thought I could be. There’s something in books and in late nights that brings me back around to ten, to eighteen. I want to love the girl that I was.

But I see more in my future than in my past

And desert mountains, a hand waving out of a car window, empty bottles on the beach – these are my present. My  brain, so black and white, so focused yet so scattered – I was ashamed of the way it never worked quite like anyone else’s. But it led me here, and I’m grateful. I am not blessed, I did this. I spent nights watching trains and never knew I would take one, too.

I have built my own home 

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Handmade Festival 2016 and Leicester’s Unexpected Evolution

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You might never catch me talking positively about my hometown again, but after a weekend at the incredible Handmade Festival Leicester I’m feeling soft. As most of you know, I spent 21 years of my life living reluctantly in Leicester. I hated it. To me, it was a culture black hole, and the only respite I had from the city was in other cities. The only time I felt at home was going to shows in nearby Nottingham or Birmingham or drinking under a bridge. I moved away in 2014 as I saw absolutely no future working in media or entertainment in Leicester; hence, Brighton. In conversations with new friends and colleagues down South I found my hometown frequently being used as a punchline; people who had never been North of Watford telling me that I didn’t look like I was from…ew…Leicester. 

But that is all changing, and it’s by and large changed in the last week thanks to the football. Before my departure Leicester spent millions on a new shopping centre, an O2 Academy, a theatre, a cinema. Its persistent and often fruitless attempts at becoming more cultured (or more like Birmingham) mostly seemed to fail, until the discovery of Richard the Third’s bones in a carpark sparked some major international interest. People all over the world were talking about Leicester, my Leicester, as if it mattered. Benedict Cumberbatch came to have a chat about Richard. Kasabian played a giant show. It was all very exciting.

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But I digress. I was lucky enough to be invited to cover Handmade Festival this last weekend, a boutique Indie festival run by Leicester locals. In the few years it’s been running it’s grown to an event of such a massive scale that it spills across three local venues. This year’s line-up included We Are Scientists, 65daysofstatic, Deaf Havana, Los Campesinos, Brighton’s own The Xcerts, and a whole bunch of other fantastic names. We Are Scientists’ set was my favourite of the weekend and they were on top form as always – bright, energetic, and hilarious. I first saw We Are Scientists in 2007 in a Leicester University student bar (I was way too young) and their return did not disappoint. Bassist Chris Cain’s reference to my town’s recent football achievements might have made me roll my eyes, but for a second, I felt something close to proud.

The Handmade Festival is a mammoth achievement by a ton of talented and passionate volunteers and organisers on a somehow simultaneously huge and small scale. The bands on board seemed genuinely excited to be a part of it, and the atmosphere over the entire weekend was that of a homegrown show, not a festival of even its own scale.

Handmade is indicative of a growing culture in Leicester that I did not see growing up. When I go home now I see adverts for pop culture pub quizzes, Indie festivals, Wheatus shows at The Cookie, new hipster bars. A lot of the time these events and businesses are being put together by talented bartenders and creatives that I knew when I was there, but who had the heart and passion for Leicester to stay and make it a better place. The organisers of Handmade should be proud of the work they are doing to make Leicester the best it can be.

I have never before had people react positively when I say I’m from Leicester, and it’s a pretty alright turnaround. Thank you for an incredible weekend Handmade Festival, and well done on the football everyone!

You can buy tickets for 2017’s Handmade Festival and read more here

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