Jo

Once again, you shook us all to the core. I guess, you as always, did it your own way. 

Your one last surprise, last tada, got us all scratching our heads, mouths gaping wide open, frantically looking at each other for support to really comprehend what the fuck just happened. But it’s not one of those moments we will reminiscent fondly over a pint at a reunion in 5 years time, it’s not something that will bring achingly wide smiles to our round faces. No. It’s a day, we will all remember with heavy hearts. Full of sadness weighing them down, shortly followed by ‘what the fuck happened?’.

You once told me you loved reading my bonkers blog, so hang on tight. It’s long overdue, but this one is for you. 

I hope you know how many lives you touched and what an unstoppable and inspiring soul you were to so many. I know, you’d probably shake your head, purse your lips and frantically scratch your afro and then brutally tell me ‘take this out, it’s boring!’. But hang on. I’ll have you saying the famous ‘cooool’ one last time at the end. 

To think that so many won’t get the chance to see you strolling around floor 7 in that famous orange jumpsuit, joyfully booming ‘HI GUYS’ and casually throwing insane idea after insane idea… makes me sad. You never had to tell us you loved your job. It was evident in every step you took, every piece of work you critiqued, and every presentation you watched front row. Must’ve been a challenge taming a bunch of misfits who had no fucking clue what the hell advertising was, or what exactly they were doing. But your insane passion for creativity, and not advertising itself, is what made us the greatest class LCC Advertising has seen so far. (Your words, not mine if I remember correct?)

You were the reason I wanted to come to LCC. I met you during one of the open days and I was in awe. You were so unapologetically yourself, a misfit with a head full of crazy hair and a heart full of passion. You were like a storm after a very long draught. There was hope that there is a place for a misfit like me to be unapologetically myself too. To finally break out of my shell and be me; creative, sassy and hella bossy, or as Sharin put it nicely ‘a cute pitbull’. But I wasn’t. I am so much more, so thank you. I guess I should also thank you for all the friendships made there. If it weren’t for you, I never would’ve been in the company of simply the most creative and inspiring people I know today. Thank you. 

Your confidence never wavered, it seemed like your enthusiasm was constantly bursting out of you, almost spilling out of you like a jar of marbles. All that official business was not your cup of tea. I remember bumping into you in the lift, after we stole a ping pong table from the bar downstairs, along with some love-starved sofas we found sitting in a corner on the way up to floor 7. What did you do? You helped us haul all our treasure onto the lift and refused to give up the hiding place when asked by the top dogs of UAL. I remember getting overpowered by the force of gravity, after a night of drinking French wine in Cannes with you. I remember your booming, hearty laugh that could silence a room. I remember you insisting us Kids doing our presentation in diapers. I remember you telling me I was hilarious. I remember you. 

But only when the sadness, pride and euphoria dwindled down after leaving, did I realise how important you were to each and everyone of us in that kick-ass class of 2015. 

Your ideas were loud, daring, often explicit and absolutely bonkers. Unapologetically unique, just like you. That, will never leave us, no matter where you are now. 

So.

Dear Jo Hodges, 

Thank you and rock’n’roll in peace. 

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I seized life by the balls

and now I’m hella anxious. Excited and terrified at the same time. Every now and then I can feel the unruly butterflies beating their wings in my stomach and a weird giggle escapes my lips. I catch my reflection in the window to find myself wearing a stupid grin on my face, which is then quickly wiped away when a wave of doubts and anxiety begins to flood my idiot brain. But, oh man, I feel amazing. I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking for a long time and now I suddenly woke up and decided to live. 

24hrs later 
and it’s like waiting for an avalanche. The silence is terrifying and the butterflies are replaced by waves of paralysing fear. What if, what if it didn’t work? It caught fire? Got in the wrong hands? Someone had an allergic reaction and now I’ll go to prison for an attempted murder? The worst part is not knowing. Im too curious, too nosey to live with a mountain of questions I can’t find answers to. 
All I can do is hang on to these balls I so fearlessly grabbed on to and see how life responds to it. 

Wish me luck y’all. 
Current song on repeat: The XX – On Hold. Very appropriate. 

The struggle is real

London has once again found itself caught up in a heatwave. Now, thats great if you’re at a pub or somewhere on a rooftop having a cold one with a bunch of your bestest of friends. But see, the struggle in a hustling bustling city like London is not the lack of sunteraces that get barely used, it’s the slimy, overcrowded, hotter than hell London Underground. Hey, look, i totally get that public transport which gets you from one end of the city to the next is a privilege and this totally sounds like “first world problem”, but we all have our own versions of Dante’s hell and at the moment this is mine. Before you go all judgmental, remember that we are all doing the best that we can. 

If you’re one of those people, who are suffering from ‘luck deficiency’ like me, you probably too find yourself going to and from work during the busiest periods of the day.  As if the journey isn’t long enough, I constantly find myself plastered to a stranger’s back (if I’m lucky, if not.. It gets worse), immobile to even scratch my nose. I can handle a squeeze here and there, but we have to put a stop in sandwiching the little people on the train. Which brings me back to the heatwave. As much as you try to mentally stop your pores from opening up and releasing the niagra  falls of sweat, you constantly find yourself drenched to the bone. If that wasn’t bad enough, some idiot decides that it’s in everybody’s interest to have him on board, so for the next 2 stops you desperately try to hold your breath because you have an unshaven armpit staring right into your nose, bringing you the pungent smell of man, who hasn’t yet discovered deodorant. If you think that’s the worst of it, well, you’re probably higher than 5″2 and you have no idea what life is like here down under the sea of smelly armpits and backpacks. 

There are 3 types of people on London Underground: the ones that understand the struggle, the ones that squeeze on packed trains asking to “move along” and the ones with backpacks. I don’t believe in heaven and hell, but while I’m on a train with some idiot hippy with his enormous  backpack hitting my head with every swerve of the tube, I sure hope that hell exist and I pray to Satan himself to have a special place in hell for those who fail to remove their backpacks on packed trains. Just imagine being repeatedly knocked around for 15 minutes while the idiot stands there reading his/her hippy Lebowski book or happily continue chit chatting with their equally dumb friend. It’s like a round with Nate Diaz, just a little less bloody. The worst is when they think they’re being a good passenger and start making space for the idiot who keeps yelling ‘move down guys!’. How about you move to another planet, moron? 

I could name a few other breeds of morons who fail to have an exit strategy and fight through to the middle of the train even though they’re getting off in two stops. Or those who not so politely dig their fingers into your back trying to push you out of the packed train as if you were a plug, because you know, that push will magically disperse the bunch of people in front of you trying their best not to punch you. When your back is a waterfall, the last thing you want is a stranger touching it. 

So, dear reader, we are once again facing a heatwave and the struggle is real. So, it doesn’t matter how skinny you feel in the morning – just dont squeeze yourself onto a packed train, and unless you’ve worn that backpack long enough for it to grow into your spine, take the bloody thing off. 

The illusion of reality

Disclaimer – the following is heavily influenced by a neuroscientist genius David Eagleman. 

Look around you. Really take in the vast amount of colour, shapes and objects. Now take a deep breath, listen to the quiet sound of a refrigerator in the background, the ticking of a clock in the room next door. Maybe you’re in a coffee shop – take in the rich smell of freshly ground coffee – can you smell the hazelnut in your latte? Listen to the tinkling of coins in a cash register, somebody’s phone vibrating in their pocket delivering a message from somewhere far away. Slowly brush your palm down the front of your cashmere sweater or your flannel shirt. Stroke the velvet covering the chair under your smoothly polished leather bag. Tap the glass screen of your iPhone, wrap your fingers around your paper Starbucks cup. This is the real life because it’s happening now. You can feel the smooth and rough edges of the coffee table, you can smell the freshly baked chocolate croissants in the kitchen. This is your reality at this very moment. Or is it? What if I told you that if you could really see end experience the real world  around you, wherever you are at any given moment, you’d be disappointed by it’s colourless, tasteless and odourless silence. Everything you see, hear, smell and touch is an illusion, a show directed and played out for you by your brain.

See, the brain is a vastly misunderstood organ. It’s vast connections and interactions that happen every second of your life is what makes it so damn impossible to figure out. That is also what makes it so interesting. Every breakthrough, every little advancement that is made in neuroscience is a massive step for humankind. Yeah, I just stole the famous moonwalk quote, because this is as huge as the first step on the moon.

From what I found out, the idea that we have a direct access to the world and reality through our sense is complete bullshit. Consider this, your sense of touch is not happening in your fingertips, you don’t see with your eyes, you don’t hear with your ears and you don’t smell with your nose. No, you experience all those things in your brain. All your organs work as a source to gather information which is then translated into images, the smell of freshly baked croissants or the sound of your alarm. This sounds so simple and yet, the vast amount of connections that take place in this process is incredible. See the brain is incapable of experiencing the world because it’s shut inside your skull, the way it supposed to be. But the brain is what makes you, you. The tiniest imbalance in the chemicals in your brain, damage to a part of your brain or in cases of Alzheimer’s the deterioration of your neural connections, changes you beyond repair, much more than any other damage to any other part of your body.

But back to our reality. To complicate things even more, some senses are processed in the brain faster than others. For example, we process light quicker than sound and yet, everything we experience is synchronised. For instance, when we clap our hands together – we don’t see our palms hit each other and then seconds late hear the loud clap, everything happens at once. So how is that possible? Well, if you are the kind of person who is highly motivated by the ‘good quote’ on Instagram to ‘let go of your past’ and move forward in your life – you’re not gonna like this. See, your brain does a lot of editing for you, to make your reality as smooth and as real as possible. What that means in turn, is that what you perceive as reality, action happening in real time is actually a delayed version of reality. Your brain first collects all the sensory information before it puts the whole experience into a story. None of this is obvious to you because you live in the past. By the time you think that moment occurs, it’s actually long gone. Our conscious awareness of reality is always a few steps behind because our brain needs to time sort out through the vast amount of information that’s coming in all the time first. So, the next time someone tells you to let go of your past, just remember, that you can’t really escape it.

You have to also remember, that every brain is different, so even if you are experiencing the same event with a friend or a loved one, their reality is completely different to yours. So does reality exist? Who cares! You get to experience the best bits of the world thanks to your hard working brain. Think of it this way – reality is the most amazing show you can’t turn off. The good news is, is that it is completely unique and personalised just for you. So sit back and appreciate the magic that happens every second of your everyday life.

I am an immigrant

How incredibly sad it is to wake up in your own home and feel like you’re an outsider. How infuriating it is that your future has been decided by a bunch of old tossers who won’t live long enough to see and feel the consequences. It’s harsh but it’s true. I didn’t have the right to vote because I am an immigrant, but I was always in. So let me explain how this makes me feel now.

I always find myself in a sticky situation when someone asks where I’m from. It takes me half a second to decide how to respond. I’ve lived exactly half of my life here and the first half back home. And as proud as I am of my roots, as much as I am a Lithuanian, I cannot ignore the enormous influence and effect being a Londoner for 11 years had on me. London has shaped and moulded me into a human being that I am today in ways that no other city in the world could have. My values, my opinions, my openness and acceptance, my thirst to travel and explore, my accomplishments and my failures, my dreams and my hopes are due to my 11 years in London. I am curious about the world because I lived it. London is a place where I felt like I belonged, where people are accepting, where cultures can co-exist, adding to one another where it is lacking. London is a well-oiled machine.

I am one of the many people that you say stole your jobs. So let me tell you how I did it. I came here when I was 11 years old. I did not speak English and I had no friends at school because of it. I graduated school with 13 GCSEs A*-B, taking my English GSCE exams in year 10 because I was that good. I went off to study A-Levels in one of the best  Sixth Form’s in London and graduated with 4 A-Levels A*-B. With an A-Level in English Literature. I graduated from a leading arts university in Europe with a First Class Honours Degree and yes, that included a 10 000 word dissertation. I have not stopped working since I was 16 years old. I paid for my living through college and university and I did not receive hand outs.  See, I stole your jobs because I sought after them. I worked hard and I continue to work hard to keep them. I’ve done nothing but try to contribute to this country’s greatness in any way I can and I most certainly did not come here to steal.

So, imagine the burn when I wake up to a verdict that I am no longer wanted here. Sure, nobody’s buying my one-way ticket back home as we speak, but it isn’t exactly ideal to live in a place where you are not wanted. It’s like being a plus one at a party – nobody really wants you here, but your friend is hot so they couldn’t say no. It’s an eerie feeling to know that more than 50% of the people on the train you take to work believe you stole their jobs. There is an emptiness inside of me today, that I cannot fill with anger or sadness, or explain for that matter. At a time, when unity should be a priority it is devastating to see the drive to divide, discriminate and reject.

Today, I feel incredibly lonely and vulnerable. It’s like the ground has vanished under my own two feet and I am free-falling into an abyss of the unknown. When you no longer have the right to stay, but you are told you’re allowed, the fire you had to do great things, amazing things for yourself and this country – begins to dwindle. The uncertainty of the future weighs heavy on my shoulders because although I am not wanted, this is still my home and this is as much my future as it is yours.

The consequences are clear of this choice – we are royally and GREATLY fucked. So, go on pussies, celebrate. You got what you wanted – you are on your own.

 

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I realise that having a blog means writing something on a regular basis, but it seems that as soon as I get some momentum I stop. Why? I probably know, but I just don’t want to admit it so I rather pretend like I don’t. Typical human error. I’ve been reading a lot lately, good reads, motivational, inspirational and some even life changing. And I have found the courage to admit things to myself I was so desperately trying to run away from. I’m not ready to say those things out loud just in case someone will hear them, so maybe in another post. But today is not about me. It’s about a conversation I had with my dad.

I was always a tomboy. I love sports, I like fixing and building things. I am basically a handyman at home. Sure, I did spend a lot of time growing up trying to figure out things for myself, but I also spent a summer with my grandad building a greenhouse. Yep, a freaking greenhouse. And the rest of the time I spent growing things inside it. Things I never ate, because the only vegetable I ever had was whatever was in my burger. I went full 21 years eating like that. That’s probably why I look like a dead man walking. But again,that’s another story.

So, last night I sat in front of the telly and casually started talking about work with dad. Now, he’s done a lot of different jobs in his 50 years on earth but he never had the motivation to do anything around the house. Hence, the reason I’m the handyman around the house. However, he was telling me all about his day at work. About the weight of the glass and how it’s made, how they install it, how they break the glass (by accident) and what it’s like working with idiots (his words, not mine). He told me about snagging. Which sounds like a big pain in the ass – imagine going around fixing somebody else’s half-ass job. Annoying. I didn’t know what it was, but he told me anyway. I sat there, transfixed by the joy in his voice – finally, somebody understand’s what he does. I sat there slowly realising that I am the son he never had. I don’t know if he still wishes I was a boy, I think I turned out well, but in that moment, I was the boy he was hoping to raise.

My mother always says I am her child (as in, I am more like her than my father), but I’m not so sure. I am as otherworldly as my father and as dramatic as my mother. I don’t really know what it’s like to have your parents cheering courtside at your football match, or see your parents in the crowd during a school play. I missed out on that and so did they. It’s the reason why I found the conversation cathartic – it was my turn to be the one cheering on the sidelines. It felt great until it hit me – my father is 50 years old.

The Answer

If you followed my quest to Superheroes hearts closely, you know how much I wanted this.

If you read the whole thing, you know how much effort went into it.

The only thing you don’t know is whether it worked? Well?

The answer is, I very bravely and publicly walked into rejection.And I would be lying to you if I said it didn’t sting. It fucking sucks (excuse my french). Got me right in the feels. But it’s okay, do you know why? Because even J K Rowling was rejected 14 times before somebody believed in her crazy stories. Not that I am comparing myself to JK Rowling, absolutely not. What I am saying is that rejection breeds determination and although the ‘thanks but no thanks’ broke my heart – supergirls don’t cry, they just get stronger and better.

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I have to be honest, I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. It didn’t come as an absolute shock. Even though, it is a bitter pill to swallow. I know that it’s only a ‘no’ for the present and not for my future goals, but it’s kinda hard to achieve them without that almighty ‘yes’. Maybe it was bad timing, maybe I wasn’t good enough. Maybe I just didn’t get lucky. Whatever the reason, all it means is that I’m going to have to inspire myself and start again tomorrow.

I loved every second of it and I thank them for the inspiration.

If you haven’t followed the journey at all, do. Start here. Grab a cuppa and enjoy the passion, the art of creative thinking and get to know me. And in the process, maybe I’ll be the hero to save you, or you – me.

M

 

 

6

The tube. It’s a funny place. We all have the same goal (while on the tube), we all have a destination. Yet, we never talk to each or God forbid have eye contact. Eye contact on the tube is probably the only thing that’s worse than cocaine. I mean, let’s be real for a minute – how many times we’ve seen people being drunk sick, fighting, making out and the thought “I can’t believe this is happening” has never crossed our minds? I can honestly say – countless. Eye contact, on the other hand, is a conversation starter over the beers you’re sharing with your mates on a Friday night.

The journeys are tough when the train is packed. There are only so many places you can point your eyeballs at without accidentally burying your eyes into somebody else’s. Those horrific ads on the tube don’t help much, especially when you end up staring at an ad with a HUGE grammar/spelling mistake. So, you just end up agonizing over it for the whole of your journey. Of course, the good old metro is a great shield from any of this. Or a great book. Or a phone. Or just staring at your own hands. But sometimes, just sometimes, you end up sitting down and all you want to do is.. nothing. You don’t want to look like a creep so you start looking around, scanning the ads one more time, checking the stop, checking your watch, your phone, search for something in your bag. Then, you can suddenly feel that somebody else’s eyeballs have found you as a subject to rest upon. So, you look up and your eyes meet for a second and it is so very awkward.

So, you look down and in all that chaos you look at their hands because they’re right in front of you and… bam. THE DUDE HAS 6 BLOODY FINGERS. They’re not bloody, but there’s definitely six of them on one hand. You can’t help but be disgusted and awed at the same time. You suddenly realise that he knows you know, so he starts flexing them… And it’s a reflex, you can’t help it, but you’re eyeballs just bulge out and for a split second, you look like Gollum. And just like that, he is not the weirdo on the train, no, even if he does have 6 fingers, but it’s you because you’ve been staring at the same place for longer than it is acceptable. Especially after you realise that his hands are in the same area as his crotch and everyone around you probably thinks you’ve been staring at his crotch instead of his freaky hand. You end up wishing you just stayed with your nose in the book instead of nosing around.

Finally, the train stops and he grabs his backpack and everybody that’s standing around getting ready to fight for his seat see his 6 fingered hand and their faces drop. So, I sit back and study their drop dead gorgeous shocked faces. Me staring at people is okay because I’ve already been labeled a freak by every soul on this carriage. So, I enjoy the free show until the shock wears off and it’s my turn to get off.

I don’t think my journey to work ever went as fast as it did that day. I was dazed and confused for the whole day, most importantly, I was so glad for that awkward eye contact. It did not only get me through the day, but it also inspired me. How did you think that ‘7 days until Christmas’ challenge came about? My mind works in mysterious ways, but that’s what I mean about being easily inspired. I never know when or where inspiration will find me, but it never fails to surprise me.

Hats off to you, 6 fingered dude. I owe you one.

 

Day 7: Christmas

Good morning Heroes for the last time! 

If you’re wondering if any of this – the posts, the GIFs or the emails were planned… The answer is absolutely not. Everyday I sat down in front of an empty page and inspired myself to talk about the best of me. So, forgive me for all the typos and missed out words, missed or overused punctuation marks.. It’s all because at times, my finger tips found it difficult to catch up with my firing thoughts. 

I really hope you enjoyed it all, because I did. The writing, the soul searching and I especially loved bombarding you with emails and all throughout social media. Most importantly, I hope this brought a little bit of magic into your office, not that Christmas is lacking that. But, it is the season of giving and I hope I succeeded in giving you some laughs and giggles. 

So, the ball is in your court team. Whatever the answer is, I thank you for the inspiration. 

Oh and Merry Christmas and I hope you have the most exciting New Year, from me and the fam. 

  

I’m obviously the most mature one in the pic. The one pulling faces. 

Have a wonderful Christmas y’all!

M

The end. 

Day 6: Why you?

It’s almost the end of my quest and I haven’t even told you why I want to work with you. I told you a lot of things but haven’t really talked about why you. So, why?

I don’t really know you, but I feel like I do. I read something about compromising that really struck a cord with me. It said not to compromise just for the sake of compromise because that’s where creativity goes to die. So, I refused to compromise and land myself in a place where I didn’t want to be. I always wanted to find a place, or as I like to call it a home, where I can grow and blossom into the best creative I can be. You sound like the best place to do just that.

Your work is brave, funny, clever, exciting, inspiring and demanding. It’s beautifully designed and cleverly structured. You embrace innovation and you spend most of your days saving the world. Who wouldn’t want to work with you?!

Those are all perfectly explained reasons why. But it’s more than that. This is one of those situations when you are lost for words to describe how you feel. I must’ve changed this post a hundred times, because nothing I wrote sounded like a good enough explanation why I’m so fascinated by you. Without even knowing any of you, your work has inspired me and gave me the courage to do this “challenge”. Your Modern Birds campaign is one of my favourite ads ever made and I’m not just saying that. Every time I see it I get this feeling ‘oh man, I wish I came up with that’. And because of that, I try harder at every project I get my hands on.

You guys, truly inspire me and I thank you for that, but I’d like to return the favour someday by inspiring you.

So, I guess the reason why you is simple – you are an inspiration.

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P.S.

If you’re wondering what’s my favourite ad.. here it is!