''only 10 because one guy was passed out*''

Here are some things I’ve experienced during the summer when there is a heatwave in the UK.

- when I was at school we didn’t have a single fan in the classroom, because we ‘wouldnt use it enough’. I ended up passing out because our school uniform involved a tie that had to be done right to the top with the top button done up. I had to be carried by the deputy head teacher down to the sick office where 5 other students were sat in front of a massive fan. All had passes out. We don’t have AC in schools, some classes don’t have a fan.

- in a heatwave we were made to do a 1 mile run. In PE we also had uniform. The tops are thick because we don’t normally get such heat. We had students get heatstroke.

- we had thick black blazers. When I say thick I mean if I snowed I could still walk to and from school in just my shirt and blazer and black trouser. We had to ask to take these off in class. Yeh, in the classes with no AC and no fan.

- we had big windows, but it was a massive pain if you wasn’t next to a window in the seating plan. Because it meant you got nothing. And we could only open them part way because things flew everywhere.

- if you had IT, good luck. That’s Satan’s room.

- walking to and from class, you was lucky if you had to walk outside to get to your class. But that’s where the luck stopped. Walking outside meant you had PE or woodwork. And woodwork meant hot machines and not Windows that opened.

Okay enough about school.

- my first job was in a warehouse. 10 hours a day no break. Only the doors open that allow in deliveries. I shit you not, one of the thermometers in the corner said 100°c. We were told to avoid that area and it only said that much because of machines (bullshit).

- it was like a fucking greenhouse. The machines chucked out heat quicker than we could get it out. I said I needed a break from my machine because I was hot (The uniform again was thick for when It was winter) I was told I’m over reacting. I passed out. We had one guy taken away in an ambulance the week after because it was too hot. They wouldn’t send us home because they would lose money. We couldn’t walk out because we would have no job.

- the hospitals struggle because of the amount of babies and elderly people that end up in there with heat related problems. Our houses are built to keep heat in. People die. If it gets bad, we had adverts on tv’s to warn us.

- I live opposite a doctor’s surgery and next to that is an ambulance station. A lot of elderly people live down my road. The crew go up and down the street to make sure elderly people are okay and to see if anyone needs to go to the hospital.

- and lastly. As I have been writing this something hasn’t felt right. My screen protector on my phone has started to melt. I’m in the shade.

I was pulled aside by on the staff members of Skyway today and he told me that he was proud of me because the other day when he found out he had to drug test the house, he knew that only two people were for sure going to pass. And I was one of them.

This is the same guy that once told a room full of 15 that only 1 out of every 10 addicts make it.

Every night before I fall asleep, I do a quick inventory with myself to make sure I did everything I could that day not to become one of the 9 that don’t make it. And so far it’s working.

21 days clean and counting.


How to Meet Your Idols

           I’m sure every single person who’s reading this has an idol or idols they look up to and admire, and if the opportunity arose that you could actually meet them in person, I’m sure you would take it swiftly and graciously. Well, I’m here to tell you with hard work and constant dedication you really can achieve your dreams and meet the person of your dreams. Here is the story about how I met alt-J.

           First of all, I got Twitter in June 2014 and I only got this Twitter with the sole purpose of maybe talking to alt-J somehow. By August 2014, I got my first reply from alt-J’s keyboardist, Gus Unger-Hamilton. After receiving that notification I was shaking with disbelief because my favorite member of my favorite band had actually acknowledged my existence. Since then, getting a reply from a member of alt-J doesn’t come as a shock to me and I’ve had plenty of casual conversation with them over Twitter. Because I didn’t meet them after their Berkeley show in April, I was determined to never let that happen again. So I created a plan. If I brought them gifts, then they’d have to see me to get their presents. I asked them via twitter what foods they liked so I could bring them delicious gifts in October. After being presented with their orders, all I had to do was wait.

           Finally, October 15, 2015 arrived and I couldn’t be more excited. My friend Nina and I were going to see alt-J for the fourth time together and we were stoked. For the week leading up to the concert, I had been teasing the alt-J band members about how awesome my gifts for them were so they’d know I was coming with gifts and so I could meet them possibly. After my plane landed in Los Angeles, I took my phone off airplane mode and casually checked Twitter like any normal teenage girl – except what was about to happen wasn’t normal. As I checked my notifications, I noticed that I had a direct message which I assumed to be from a friend that was excited about my concert as well. However, when I clicked on the envelope tab that opens my messages, I received the greatest shock of my life. Gus Unger-Hamilton, the keyboardist and backing vocalist of alt-J, had messaged me saying “Let me know when you get to the venue so I can try and say hi”. I was actually shaking on the airplane. The taxi sped us from the airport to our hotel, and we quickly made our trek to the venue.

           When Nina and I arrived at the Hollywood Bowl, a gorgeous venue by the way, I messaged Gus saying I was here and where should I go. He responded by saying that he was sending his production manager to come and escort me backstage so he needed my full name and location. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I was being invited into alt-J’s dressing room. The manager walked me through many parking lots filled with venue employees and much security before finally entering through the artists’ entrance doorway. I could feel heart pounding uncontrollably in my chest. I stepped into a corridor filled with many rooms labeled anything from “alt-J manager room” to “alt-J warm up room”. I was in complete awe. The manager knocked politely on their dressing room door and swung it open, informing the band that they had visitors. As I walked through the door, I saw Gus, lead singer Joe Newman, and Joe’s girlfriend Darcy sitting on a black couch. They both stood up and strode over to hug me as Gus said, “Wow Samy! It’s great to finally meet you!” I was completely stunned. They wanted to meet me just like I wanted to meet them. We made brief introductions consisting of hugs and hellos before I proceeded to pass out their delicious treats. Thom Green, the drummer, and Cameron Knight, the guitarist, were not there however because they were still at the hotel. We’ve met Cameron twice before but I’d still really like to meet Thom. I gave Joe and Gus the absentees’ gifts of homemade brownies for Cam and brownie batter Oreos for Thom to give to them later. I then gave Joe his limited edition sugar cookie PopTarts which he freaked out over. He squealed about getting to toast them in his new toaster in his London flat because “you’re supposed to toast these, right?” Then I turned to Gus. He remarked, “I’m anxious to see what you got me because you’ve been teasing me about it on Twitter.” I pulled out and handed him a $10 In-n-Out giftcard. He was overjoyed because In-n-Out is one of his favorite foods and he can only get it in California, so I thought that’d be special. Gus exclaimed, “You bought me an entire meal??” He hugged me tightly after I gave him his gift. Nina gave them each hand-painted cards with delta symbols on them.  I also gave the entire band a Halloween mix CD and a hand written letter addressing all of alt-J. After all the gifts were passed out, Gus shocked me once again. He told me, “We actually got you guys something too,” and that he sent someone named Sarah to bring us a special California only This Is All Yours tour t-shirt! I couldn’t believe that they actually got us a gift!

           As we waited on the t-shirt to arrive, we had a casual 30 minute (I couldn’t keep track of the time) conversation with our favorite band in the entire world. We talked about the most random things like baking television shows, sugar, the most harmful types of burns, touring, Europe, the Hollywood Bowl, our past alt-J experiences, the Greek Theater in Berkeley, how old we are now versus when we started listening to them, how tall we are, how the time period that we’ve been listening to them is such a pivotal changing period in our lives, whether or not you toast a PopTart, Joe introduced his girlfriend Darcy, British television versus American television, the Hamildad tweets, that night’s opening bands, some of their past opening bands, their two-night Berkeley show and Gus’s framed poster from that, how the Hollywood Bowl’s seating is slightly unfair to more dedicated fans who can’t afford VIP, Moët McClain (@peasantmoet), and her Hamildad mug she gave Gus at her show. The conversations sadly had to end when Sarah arrived with the shirt.

           Now that I had the exclusive tour tee, they asked if we’d like them signed but I told them that I had brought my This Is All Yours vinyl sleeve for them to sign instead. Nina had her shirt signed. As Gus was signing it he asked, “It’s spelled S-a-m-y, right?” and I freaked out inside because I didn’t even have to tell him how to spell my name. Gus just already knew. The finished signatures said “Thanks for everything, SΔmy! Lots of love, Gus x” and “Joe x”. After the signing was done it was picture time, and Gus proclaimed that the picture should be an alt-J sandwich, as Gus put it, with Nina and I in the middle. Darcy took the picture of us but kept making us move so she wouldn’t be visible in the mirror behind us. First, Nina got individual selfies with of the band members and I followed suit. Sadly, the end was drawing near. Gus, Joe, and I made our last hugs and goodbyes before they escorted us out of the dressing room and back to the artists’ entrance.

           A few days later, Cameron tweeted me a picture of the brownies saying thank you and that they were so delicious that he ate them in like 5 minutes. Gus told me he was on his way to In-n-Out for dinner that night. I sent him a picture of my new shirt thanking him and replied with you’re welcome and how he wasn’t able to make it In-n-Out ever but that he’d save his giftcard all the way until next time when he’s back in California.

           I still can’t believe this all happened and frankly I don’t think I’ll truly be able to comprehend it. Every time I tell someone new this story I feel like I must be lying because this is honestly too good to be true. My favorite band, alt-J, personally invited me into their dressing room to meet me. It wasn’t a promotionally stunt hosted by the venue or a local radio station where they had to meet me and I didn’t bang on the door screaming and begging to be let in. They initiated the invitation, and wanted me to come in at their own free will. I’m still in a slight shock and I am so so so grateful that I am lucky to have scored this opportunity. Hopefully, I can hang with alt-J again soon. Δ

Race Report: Reston 10 Miler

Such a pretty medal!

This past Sunday, I ran the Reston 10 Miler as a tune up/dress rehearsal for the marathon. 

The race began at 8 am at a high school in Reston. I arrived early to pick up my packet and do my warm up. It was probably in the high 30s around this time so I wore a super stylish cotton t-shirt that I was planning on bringing to Goodwill over my running shirt. I ran 2.5 miles as my warm up on the course itself since it was already marked. 

The race started pretty informally: at some point everybody meandered into the middle of the road and then people started running over the timing mat. I ended up somewhere in the middle of the pack which is usually a-okay. However, since everybody was restricted to a side of the road, it was super packed and I did something kinda bitchy: I ran up the median to get around a lot of people (maybe I only think this is bitchy? I have no idea, I felt a little weird).

After the first mile or so, people definitely spread way out. I didn’t have any problems passing (or being passed: curse you old man in the Army 10 miler shirt!) for the rest of the course.

(Speaking of passing: I have never had so many people act so ridiculous when I passed them. I came up on one guy around mile…3 maybe? And he would not let me go. He would pass me and then fade so I would pass him because what do I care what his pace is, I’ve got myself to worry about it. And then so on. I knew he couldn’t hang because he was breathing heavily already. It went on for at least 1.5 miles until I lost him on a hill. Dude. Get over it. I’m not actually racing you. Then this happened again later with a girl later on as well. What are you people doing??)

The course itself was pretty much on the road and through a residential/quiet business area. It was scenic in a peaceful, not much to see kind of way. Trees, houses, etc. There were definitely some hills but none that felt out of my comfort zone. The worst was actually a downhill near the end: I felt that one in my knees.

I focused on keeping an even pace for most of the race but I know that I went too fast, especially in the beginning. I was aiming for 7:40 but was hitting around 7 at times (for about half a mile I dipped into 6:57 but that could have been a Garmin mistake). I was definitely worried about burning out. Luckily, I didn’t!

Here’s the breakdown:

PR! Well, I haven’t ever actually raced a 10 miler so of course it’s a PR.

I’m pretty happy with this, of course. The best part is: I felt really strong even at the end. I had more miles left to give. Which is a good sign, I think.