Recording Myself: Footage & Movement & Me

Alright, I was gonna maybe say this in a video because it's about videos and seeing yourself on video, but I figured it was easier to write it down and I wanted to ramble on in a way that was maybe more accessible, as writing often can be versus video where everything is said in a particular space of time and so on.

So for quite a while most of the videos I make on YouTube have an interesting relationship with movement in that they are made up of still images, rather than straight up normal footage. One thing I like about this is the sense of calm that comes across from that particular kind of motion. It's gentle, it's relaxing, it's very casual and loose and nice.

But one thing that I miss from footage is my own motions. When I take pictures of myself for my stop motion vlogs, it feels like a half step up from photographs because it's still about a more-or-less still image with the added gentle jostling of slight movements as I shift with the camera or form a smile. When I'm doing this it's a bit like if I was to capture a five second video or make a gif. There is movement, but there is a general stillness of self and no time for all my unedited mannerisms and unprepared movements to come across in the way that they would have to in a longer video where my face and body become their whole visible selves in a more all-encompassing sense.

This probably had something to do with my brief phase of making private video diaries around four years ago. I wanted to record my moving self. And I still want to do that now, and I find myself returning to that idea and feeling curious about it. I want to be more familiar to myself as a moving, smiling, loudly laughing self.

I think I get the same feeling, or a very similar one, when I see other people's childhood footage. No one in my family had a video camera when I was a kid, although I do remember being eleven or twelve and using my best friend's grandfather's camera to film the two of us being silly all day. I'd love to be able to watch footage of myself as a little kid, but similarly that's how I feel when I think about recording myself now, and seeing it now and knowing myself, and then seeing it in years and years and years and knowing myself then too.

I want to record myself in so many different ways, and I do, and I know there's not time to do everything in every possible iteration, but maybe I will find some time to record myself on video in a more traditional and straightforward sense soon. Maybe just for myself, maybe in the dark in the middle of the night, maybe whispering strange and sudden thoughts to myself. Who knows.

Notes To Myself

Passing notes was pretty much the greatest thing about school, but now that I'm not at school my note-passing opportunities are limited, so I like to pass notes to myself every so often. Please imagine me looking very business-like and carrying a briefcase. Then imagine that I open the briefcase to reveal lots and lots of cute notes and drawings. And here they are:


I just had a moment of fantasy in which I imagined my hair enveloping my face and no one ever seeing me (my face) ever again, as I am instead a fortress of cascading gold hair from head to toe. I wouldn't need sunglasses, or, well, any type of glasses then. I don't know why that image came to my mind, but I'll accept and treasure it as one of the many weird, fleeting imaginings I have that feel comforting despite the often unappealing nature of what they actually contain.

Sometimes I almost feel like my entire self is composed of those sort of fantasies. An endless series of nonsensical fictional scenarios. That's all I am. A huge part of me looks forward to when I lie down to go to sleep, because that's the most concentrated time of indulgence for them. I lie down and become a woodland fairy flying through clusters of mushrooms, or a close personal friend of Taylor Swift, or a woman with great physical strength, a beautiful rural cottage, and nine children all named Clarence.

Good times!

All Clothes Are Fine

I feel like I've been varying levels of fussy about what I wear since around age twelve when I was into short mushroom-y hair, blue combat trousers, and lots of baggy t-shirts. Those were the days. I pretty much dressed like any boy in a 2001 cartoon. Then I rapidly became confused about my evolving changes in taste as I traversed the awkward adolescent times amongst the incredible wonder of the world that was 00's fashion. What a joy that was.

I started wearing all black as a teenager, and that offered me some safety and security in the comforting familiarity of one very specific colour scheme. I eventually emerged into the world of colour like a frightened mole being lifted from the soil, and for a while every colour choice felt very conspicuous and weird. I was intensely interested in ultramarine for a while, before transitioning into the life of a standard multiple-colour-wearer. And at that point I felt some relief.

But what lead me to write this post was a general feeling I realised I now have, which is that basically, all clothes are fine. I mean, obviously there are still clothes in the world that I hate and will lobby government to ban well into old age, but I realised that I'm just not too fussed any more. What gave me this abrupt realisation was reading this Buzzfeed photo list of all Rachel's outfits from the first season of Friends (which I took the photos for the above collage from) and thinking "yep, they're pretty much all fine". Some are great and some are not so great, but they're all acceptable enough. And with just 'acceptable', I realised, comes a certain amount of charm. I may not be Jennifer Aniston, but I look cute in weird pyjamas and random borrowed cardigans and all sorts of questionable relics from previous decades. It's all fine.

At this realisation I felt a certain kind of peace fall through me. Throw me your old varsity sweatshirts and floral maxi skirts, people, because I am here and I am ready to wear any old thing - gleefully.

Tonality, I guess

For some reason of course when I was draining the colour from these photos for no other reason than that I fancied it, I was reminded of some philosophical, personal concept. Because y'know, doing stuff makes me think about totally unrelated stuff, thanks to my brain and all its mysterious workings (not mysterious really, right now I'm thinking about Worcester Sauce).

So changing the colour and tone suddenly made me think about all the different perceptions of me that must exist and have existed. From strangers I pass on the street who just about notice me and then forget my existence a few minutes later, to everyone I've ever known closely. Every relative who remembers me having a tantrum at the Falkirk Wheel that one time (please, let's not talk about the Falkirk Wheel).

Everyone has this idea of me. A big blob of an idea or an intricate construction based on knowing lots of things. And then of course, there's my perception. Worn out and baggy in places, tight and knowing in others. Or something like that. But none of them, not even my one, are real. I'm real on my own, separate from them. It's kinda cool.

Also, check out these black and white self portraits I took on a Monday afternoon. I like that particular kind of clarity that black and white can bring. Nice.

How To Run Away At A Moment's Notice

Have you ever been standing in the path of a wave? Have you ever been submerged unexpectedly? Have you ever dawdled somewhere or with someone because definitively leaving felt like too sudden a commitment?

It's a weird feeling. A series of weird feelings. Trying to subtly tell someone the conversation is over so you can go away, but feeling too awkward to just say you're going. One of the silliest little things. It's good to teach yourself how to leave.

This post is about leaving in a very general sense. Not necessarily leaving temporarily or permanently, but more being comfortable with the idea of not needing a fixed space. It's interesting how attached we are to our homes, and how we as individuals extend our sense of person-hood out into the space around us. But it feels good to exist more within yourself than outside yourself.

So here are some thoughts on that:
  1. Keep a dedicated space for the things you need to take with you when you leave, so you're ready to go without dawdling. And similarly, it helps to keep a neat bag (or a few for different purposes).
  2. Try to have a dress sense that is generally appropriate for all occasions. I used to sleep in my school uniform a lot after all, so you don't necessarily need pyjamas.
  3. Minimise the tools you need to have fun and work and create things. This is one reason I like to play around with drawing stuff digitally, and carry a small camera and an e-reader. I've even sewn my own lightweight sock-like cases for electronics, which helps to save space. And I have some very little notebooks and pens for super portability. I also keep handy lip balm containers for travelling with a little bit of moisturiser or other things that occupy bigger containers.
  4. Attach more sentimentality to your experiences and memories rather than objects wherever possible.
  5. Don't do things out of politeness when they are actually harmful to you.
  6. Know that many physical possessions will eventually expire. Make peace with it and don't worry about the inevitable. Even if your favourite piece of clothing gets worn out, it can be exciting because you get to go buy a new one.
  7. Remind yourself that you don't need to look a certain way. You don't need to brush your hair or wear earrings to go somewhere.
  8. Remember that you don't need to keep anything you don't want to. This includes photos, friends, and family heirlooms if necessary.
  9. Doing scary things will teach you a lot and make you stronger a lot of the time.
  10. Don't spend too much of your life deciding.

Book Review: Hotel World - Ali Smith

★★★★☆: Fantastic, segmented story about chunks of lives (and afterlives) surrounding a hotel and a death. 

[spoiler free/mild details]

Hotel World has a very nicely-written and unassuming premise in that it is about some people in and around a hotel. And one of them is dead. It's honestly so great.

From the first page I was so hooked on this book. I felt like I'd dived into it and was falling, tumbling into the story at 80mph. Pretty appropriate seeing as the book starts with a fall. Hotel World loops around its setting into and out of characters in a way that feels kind of dizzying but incredibly compelling. And the characters and subject matter are so delightfully odd and sort of adventurous in their particular, peculiar brands of just-about normality.

We see a glimpse into an afterlife which is splintered and cautiously sombre, but overall, open and endless, and reading it at times feels like being a child. Reading the exploration of a slight alteration of the living realm, with characters on the surface not very interesting or compatible or even connected, but who reveal so much in the way of little moments of beauty and wit and wonder. And by the end of the book it feels like everything is so connected, like I even might be there myself. And I have a sudden unusual desire to wear somebody else's watch.

I do wish there was more of Sara Wilby, because she and her afterlife are my favourite bits of this book, but all of it was compelling and nicely connected nevertheless. I also really like the use of stream-of-consciousness style narratives in different parts of the book because I felt like that really successfully conveyed a sense of confusion, urgency, and grief where applicable. Some of it is quite lengthy and gruelling near the end, but for me that made me rush to the finish line despite my eyes feeling a bit exhausted with it all. Often the writing style lends a dreaminess to things, and I really liked that.

This book touched my heart and made me want to rush around saying "wooooooooo-hooooooooooo" a lot. Not many books compel me to take physical action/pretend to be an aeroplane, so I'm considering that a plus.

My New Camera

A dream came true for me two weekends ago when I got my grubby little hands on a shiny new DSLR camera. A Canon EOS 1200D. A beautiful thing that I'm a bit nervous to touch. I've wanted a DSLR for years, and I have finally got one! I'm going to take thousands of artistic shots of all my house spiders in a minute. For now though, here are my test shots. I'm going to have so much fun with this thing.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the biggest lens of all? Can I just say, I love circular mirrors. They're really cute. Okay, I just love circles. It's very pleasing to be inside a circle.

Rectangular mirrors are okay too, though.

Here's a plant shot. Nice leaves. Good.

Taking portraits is an absolute pleasure with this thing, it just gets the light and details so nicely. I'm so happy.

Here I was, uh, testing the focusing capabilities I guess. There is so much nice, gentle, pleasing blur going on.

And here's an especially great picture of the edge of a rug:

Cats never stay still long enough to get their headshots done. Rude.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Journal #2

Welcome back to Happy Home Designer, where I am designing more homes! Filling them with plants and stuff like that! Good!

I put some nice bears out in the garden here, because what's nicer than being greeted by some happy bears when you enter or leave a house? Nothing, that's what.

I also helped with some bunny/polka dot decoration for a certain spotty bunny. Obviously all bunnies want bunny-themed stuff in their houses. They're very self-interested. That's okay. I admire it. I want a balloon the shape of my head to wave gently around in my living room forever too, if I'm honest.

I am really enjoying creating the shops and town facilities. Isabelle asked me to set up a shop, so I made a nice plant shop with lots of tiny trees for sale.

I'm so pleased with myself.

I also made a café. The curtains are really nice in here.

After I'd exhausted myself constructing facilities and cute shops, I bumped into Alfonso walking around in the rain. I couldn't resist working on his vision for how he wanted his house. We are on the same level, artistically.

I moved him into a beautiful woodsy area filled with pine trees, and I put some simple lamps outside to mimic stars. It's a little bit odd, but I think it's cute. He can stargaze all he wants with this telescope too.

I love Alfonso and I hope he likes his house. I'm going to go over there all the time and try to find a new star.

Nice Moments Embellished

I got some good photos recently during some nice, relaxing, sunny moments, and I let them sit in a folder for a while until I could figure out some way to use them or present them. I looked through them some time later and I thought "I could try drawing on these and making them look like they're in a cute little scrapbook". So I did that thing.

I feel like one of the best things ever for my mental health has been to really notice little moments and nice, small things in my life, because if I keep noticing those then life has a continuous narrative of niceness framed by all these things. I know all the "listen to a nice song" "take a luxurious bath" "buy yourself flowers" positivity advice can be super grating when it feels like it's just "think nice thoughts and be happy and everything is lovely" but I find a lot of that sort of encouragement genuinely really helpful, personally. Obviously context is relevant for stuff like that.

I'm definitely cheered up a lot by nature and light and warmth, so it's nice to have those things. I'm also really cheered and inspired by tactility (soft things, warm things, etc) and making my own small memories and creative things. They keep me in my present moment and feeling accomplished and like I am fundamentally myself and capable of doing and feeling and seeing lots of good things. It's good.

Drawing on pictures like this feels like a way of making them even more mine, and even more me. But mostly it collects them and it tells a story, and it's the story I want my life to be. The story of sunlight and wispy hair and shadows and playing and saying hello to animals and being cosy.

I had fun. We had fun. The world is fun.

Hair Clips & Pencils

I was rearranging some things absent-mindedly and just kinda looking at stuff and thinking about all the things I have and all the places I keep them in, and I thought I would make some nice compositions of things on my scanner bed and try to create a sense of connection between the items and a sense of collective emotion and narrative. Or something like that.

The hair clips up above are so rarely used, but I think they're so cute and I would love to be a cute hair clip person. I'm just not exactly sure how.

I keep a super crumpled picture of Elliot in my card case, I think because I love when people have torn, folded, or otherwise worn out photos in movies. I need to have a poorly kept photo with me. For character. There's my business card too, and my very useful little fluffy bag, and a roll of film. Important objects.

My mum gave me some very pretty colouring pencils for Christmas, which I keep on my bookshelf in a jar. They sit near a box with a bunch of zines and some stamps. I always think stamps are quite nice to look at. Not as nice as my pencils though.

Catching The Sand

Sometimes it feels like my hair is more me than my body is, but that doesn't make sense. Sometimes it feels like little objects and pieces of paper are more me than my body is. That makes a little bit more sense, but a little bit less sense at the same time.

I know I'm me really, and I know that all the things and spaces around me are also me, in a way. But it's all these funny little feelings. The weird, cycling, pressing thoughts that happen all the time to remind yourself you're still alive and that means things are moving and changing around you and inside you all the time. Like the particular kind of contented feeling I get after taking a webcam photo of myself in the morning, wearing a big jumper and a messy bun, sunlight on my freckles and in my eyes, making my irises look more transparent than usual. For a while after that I feel like I really know myself. I really know who I am and what I look like and how I feel. And it's such a pure feeling, like I have grasped myself, curled my fingers around myself and am holding myself tightly in a dome made of my own hands.

But that feeling fades like all feelings fade, into new ones and old ones cycling out and around and back in forever. I'm a machine. Hydraulics and hair. Collecting slipping feelings like sand in an hourglass.

Diary: Harry Potter & Sea Creatures

I have had some good walks lately, and eaten some tasty fruity things, and yesterday I spent a high percentage of my time thinking about Harry Potter. I wrote this small analysis shortly after waking up:

I'm super sleepy and I just ate an 'oats and honey' bar and I'm thinking about all the characters I've ever read in books and all the characters that made me love them, and all the characters that were like empty shells I could fit myself inside to feel the narrative happening like it was happening to me.

And for some reason now I'm thinking about Harry Potter, the boy himself who I liked for being sarcastic and stubborn and gently rule-breaking and silly but also Worried About Things like me. The boy who is still all those things but now in retrospect also naive and irritatingly sure of himself when he shouldn't be sometimes, just like me too.

But he was both, he made sense as an outsider who was siding at this moment with Ron and at this other moment with Hermione, but he also made sense as me. I love Harry. I always identified with Luna a huge amount for her place as wide-eyed and creative weird girl, but it was Harry we saw into most of all, and he was me too.

Nice, huh? That's why I think it's important to write nonsense into drafts when you are barely awake or coherent. That's why I try to write notes and get my splintered thoughts down somewhere as much as possible, even when I don't feel like I have anything in my head, let alone anything to say. Because unthinking little notes on Harry Potter can turn into something that means something to you later on.

I've been really into reading, and after I finish Ender's Game this week I'm going to start reading some recent releases and hopefully some 2016 releases, because I really want to feel like I'm getting a sense for the scope of things that are being released now, as current in literature as it's possible to be. I also really like reading the popular books of the moment and being part of a wide-scale reading 'moment'. I want to read Room by Emma Donoghue, so that may well be next on my list (even though it's a 2010 release).

I also ended up idly watching a nature documentary on Saturday night about sea creatures and goings-on, and it reminded me how much I used to love watching them as a kid. They still retain that sense of awe that I had when I was young. It's a really nice thing to watch, quite relaxing and soothing despite the serious matter of, well, life.

Leg Art

I'm a big piece of paper, pretty much. And what does a piece of paper do? That's right, get drawn on.


I have a bruise on my right leg from falling off the sofa. I gave it a nice little bobble hat and some socks. It's a very comfy bruise now. On my left leg, I drew a bunny with a precious carrot.

I got a bit more scribbly on my arm, but I feel like the legs are the best places to draw. On myself, at least. I mean, it's physically easier to draw there, and there's a nice amount of space. On someone else, I'm not sure what the best place is, because people seldom let me draw on them, but I'd like to try drawing all over someone's back.

For now I guess I'll just have to stick to my legs.