Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Awesome Things The 6th

-This is a pre-scheduled post as I am currently away visiting a friend-hurrah!-

I reckon it's that sort of time again where I take a moment to appreciate some more of those little things in life, the ones that really make your day, or just make you smile for a moment.

-When your music player groups a run of totally awesome songs together.
We all have those songs that we can't help but dance and sing along to, the ones that make us feel fabulous and alive and wonderful. It's like a little burst of happiness straight into your ears. When your music player is really feeling your mood and plays one after another after another it's just joyful and makes your day a little bit more awesome.

-Hugs exactly when you need them.
We've all had those days where nothing seems to go right or where you can't help but feel a little bit miserable at the world and you just need something to cheer you up. When someone comes along and offers you a hug, either because they like hugs or because they can see that you might need one-it's like a tiny ray of sunshine going straight to your heart. Yes, it might not make the problems go away but for those moments when someone else allows you to cling tightly to them, it's a little bit of comfort and solace and love that you can keep hold of for the rest of the day.

-New Clothes.
Whether or not you are someone who likes to shop or not, I bet you still love the feeling of putting on new clothes for the first time. Sliding that shirt out of its packet or taking the dress off the hanger and putting it on, when it's still a bit crisp and new and strange feeling. Whether it's something you want people to notice or if it's something you're just wearing for yourself, the first time is always the best time.

-Glow in the dark nail varnish.
Sounds totally childish and ridiculous. Is actually wonderful and tremendous amounts of fun. I wore some the other day and could NOT STOP STARING AT MY HANDS. I mean LOOK:

you cannot possibly deny that that is reallyfrickencool. And if you do well I just won't listen, so there.

-Being approved of by your significant other's friends.
This is an excellent feeling because meeting their good friends is as important as meeting their family. And while in my case I haven't actually met many of them (due to my significant other being from an entirely different continent to me/the one he's currently on), I have been in a Skype conversation with a couple and I know for a fact that a lot of them have been visiting my Facebook page to assess my suitability. So far, I seem to be doing OK and that's a huge relief to me.

That's all for today, see you next time!


Previous instalments:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Book 56/65-How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran

A couple of months back I mentioned that I was starting a book list challenge that I had found on the internet entitled '65 Books to Read in Your 20s'. When I saw that this one was on the list I was very happy because I had already decided that I was going to read it again, and I love serendipity. Also because it mean that I could begin my challenge straight away-I didn't have to hunt through dusty second hand shelves (one of my favourite things in the world to do, in fairness) to find a specific book but merely walk to my bookcase and pick one up. I can cross an item off the list without any effort at all-and everyone knows they're the best things to cross off lists (like adding things to your to-do list that you've already done so you look more productive!).

I read HTBAW for the first time after some very insistent recommendations from some good friends of mine, and on more than one occasion having bewilderingly out of context yet still hilarious pieces quoted at me by text message. In her own words, Moran says that HTBAW is "a book about feminism! A funny but polemic book about feminism. Like 'The Female Eunuch'-but with jokes about my knickers!"
She doesn't disappoint, either-it's very funny. Re-reading for the second time whilst at work in a semi-professional environment, I often found myself clamping my hand over my mouth to try and stifle the gigglefit that was making my shoulders shake and my sides hurt.
It's delightfully anecdotal-cringeworthy-ly, head nodding in agreement-ly anecdotal. We've all been there, one way or another-every woman will be able to empathise with at least one of CatMo's tales, or top it with one of her own. It's also interspersed with some excellent life advice that doesn't feel preachy or teachy but more like an incredibly wise friend is telling them to you while you sip cider in a sunny beer garden somewhere. You start to question why you hadn't already formed opinions on these subjects yourself, and suddenly realise that they actually matter to you more than you'd ever realised.

HTBAW covers all of the important things in life (and some more trivial)-underwear (and how it is shrinking), porn, brazilians (the pubic topiary, not the people), fat, sexism, fashion, children (and why you should and shouldn't have them), abortions, bras and what to call your genitalia, amongst others! It was the first thing I'd read that made me actually realise that those things I'd been thinking all along meant I was a feminist, that that was a word I could-and should-use to describe myself, that this was an excellent thing. I know that to some people saying that you like CatMo is a serious feminist faux pas (Feminists, why you so judgy?) and I will agree that she does have a terrible habit of saying some truly awful things and then making it worse by being a dick about it afterwards. But no-one's perfect, and I can think that just because you agree with and admire one thing that someone's produced, it doesn't mean you have to agree with everything. There's no such thing as the "perfect feminist" because it means something different to every person, and everyone does it differently. I think that what should matter is that you are one, rather than what type of one you are.

I reckon every 20-something woman (and probably man too) should read this book because HTBAW is the friendly, paddle-in-the-shallow-end kind of introduction to the idea of feminism that you need. After that, you can choose your own way-read some fabulous blogs, talk to some wonderful people, watch some awesome videos, form your own opinions and disagree with people. On my second read through of this book I found myself wholeheartedly disagreeing with CatMo on some points-and that's how it's supposed to be, there's nothing wrong with that. HTBAW isn't an instruction manual on how to lead your life, how to be a feminist, or even how to be a woman, but more of a key to a door and a gentle push over the threshold to the world of feminism, and then you get to make your own way from there.
I, personally, think it's fabulous.

Memorable Quote: "Why are we starving our bottoms of the resources-like an extra metre of material-to stay comfortable? Why have we succumbed to pantorexia?" (page 97)


Monday, 22 July 2013

30 Posts of Truth-Part 13

A Band or Artist That Has Got You Through Tough Days (Letter)

Dear Queen (well that feels suitably weird),* 

I know that my choosing you will be a somewhat controversial choice as not everyone will understand just exactly why I love you. I know that some people (although I suspect they are in the minority) will say that they can't stand you and that you are terrible, but to those people I say pish, this is my blog and my letter, take your silly opinions elsewhere. Everyone knows at least one Queen song, don't they? I mean knows it well too, can sing along to all the words and everything. And I suspect a lot of people have a copy of your Greatest Hits buried somewhere on a dusty CD shelf because it's just one of those albums that everyone has, everyone knows, everyone enjoys. But that's not really what this letter is about.

I'm not really one who turns to music when I'm feeling emotional-I like to write sad poems and angry blog posts instead, but the few times I have really needed a song to fit a mood, I have always found one amongst your albums. There are so many songs that match so many emotions-not just the ones everyone knows but the ones that they don't, from the albums that most people haven't heard of unless you're a fan. And there's a song for every mood too-if you're happy, if you're feeling awesome and want to strut down the street, if you feel like crying, if your heart is breaking.

I didn't happen upon your music until I was 13 or so-and then I went to see a performance of 'We Will Rock You' on a school trip. All the songs were awesome but I can distinctly remember listening to the gorgeous version of 'No-One But You' (sung by one of my now favourite West End stars-Kerry Ellis) and feeling the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It was really beautiful and moving and I decided that I had to know more of this band that I had never heard before, because the music was wrapping itself around my heart and making it beat just a little faster than before. 'No-One But You' was the first Queen song I fell in love with, but there have been many many more since. 

As a slightly older teenager, I had the song 'Someone to Love' as my ringtone because it was all I wanted in the world-someone to love me, someone for me to fall in love with. Talk about subtle hint to the universe, huh? That became 'my' song for a while, because I felt like it could have been written for me-the words were taken right out of my head. The opening line still gives me shivers, even now.

Even last year, when all the crap with my ex and my ex-best friend went down, there was a Queen song that knew how I was feeling. I must have listened to 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' a hundred times on repeat, bawling my eyes out and singing along. The lyrics 'torn between your lover, and the love you leave behind' have never felt more poignant to me and the song still settles an air of melancholy about my shoulders like a cape when I listen to it-but I don't mind that at all because it's gorgeous.

There are others too, of course-'You're My Best Friend' which reminds me of good times and great friends,
' '39', which me and my Dad sing along to in the car, automatically harmonising with each other and 'Love of my Life' which is one of my favourite favourite Queen songs ever because it's beautiful.
I really do think there is a Queen song to fit to any mood, to match any emotion, to make you cry if you need tears or make you laugh if you want to smile, and I love them, I love them all.

So to the legend that is Freddie, to Brian, to Roger and John-thank you. Thank you for your beautiful lyrics, for your foot stomping bass lines, for your epic guitar solos. Thank you for making music that gets into your heart and your head like nothing else, that pull on your emotions and that everyone, anyone could relate to. You might not have "got me through" the tough times so much, but your songs were the soundtrack to them, and a lot of the good times too. I can't believe that it's only been 10 years since I first got my own copy of your Greatest Hits because I feel like I've always known these songs-they've been the backing music to my life for so long that I can't understand how I've not known them forever.

I'm glad I found you when I did.


*I'm deciding now that I am writing this as if 'Queen' were a singular person, to make my life easier, OK?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Get Yer Kit Off!

A couple of weeks ago I stripped off and stood wearing nothing but my underwear in a room full of people.

Thought that would get your attention. OK, so it's nothing like as sordid as it sounds, and I was completely enclosed by curtains on all sides but still!
The reason I was stood in my scanties in a room full of lab-coat bedecked strangers was because I was having my body scanned in 3D-not for science but for fashion (I feel like a sell out!).

The hosiery company (note-I cannot pronounce this word for the life of me. I think this must be lesson one in selling hosiery...) Charnos is bringing out a new line of tights and other such things for plus size ladies and are actually appearing to do some proper research into the subject by getting information from the women who will be wearing them. There was both a focus group where we discussed what we like and disliked in a pair of tights and then of course the 3D scans to generate data from plus sized women's bodies for them to help make them fit as well as they can. I actually found it all really rather interesting-I never knew there were so many things that could be wrong with a simple pair of tights. There were women of all shapes and sizes there (all above UK size 16) and it didn't take long before we were chatting away about our various body shapes and seams and ladders and chafing-all things I can honestly say I'd never discussed with a group of strangers before. People weren't shy either-I found myself caught up in a conversation with two rather fabulous women both at least 40 years my senior talking about how tights just really weren't as sexy as stockings and how they missed being able to wear suspender belts. It almost made me blush but actually was all pretty fun and goes to show that the older generations can certainly hold their own against us youths, haha!
Interestingly though, I was the youngest person there by at least 25 years. I was expecting to see more faces my own age if I'm honest, it seems like a very studenty thing to do and fun and patterned tights seem to be very in at the moment. I can only speculate as to why this might be-it could just be that I'm an unemployed bum whose mother happens to read the right paper, but I couldn't help but wonder if there was more to it than that. Another thought for another day though, perhaps.

I was, I have to confess, a little nervous about the actual scanning part though-don't get me wrong, I like my body in clothes, I like the way it moves and feels and for the most part I like it unclothed too. I'm always a bit anxious about sharing it though, and at the time I hadn't exactly spent a lot of time around people in my underwear recently to put me at ease. (Except for Rara who has grown up with me and so probably doesn't count any more!) I knew that no-one was going to actually see me but none the less they were going to scan my body in 3D which basically equates to the same thing as them having a sneaky look at me in my undies.

In the end, though, it was fine. There were make-shift cubicles to change in and big fluffy robes to change into, and you were in control of when you took it off, once you were safely behind the curtain of the scanning booth. It definitely felt a little off to be standing there in my underwear whilst a man I didn't know told me to hold my arms a little straighter, but it was all good in the end. It didn't turn out to be the most flattering 'picture' of me ever taken but it was still pretty cool to see myself in a way I don't usually get to. I was planning on including it with this blog post but realised it was essentially a picture of me naked (albeit entirely made of graph paper) and that was something that The Internets just didn't need to get ahold of. Sorry to disappoint you all, I'm sure!

Basically, what I'm saying is that if you get the chance to do something like this then you should because it's painless and simple and easy-all you need to do is stand perfectly still for about 2 minutes and if I can do that with my awful balance then you can too! (I know ASOS are doing something similar using the same technology at the moment too).

So yeah. I got my kit off for fashion. But I thoroughly enjoyed myself and earned a bag of goodies too-can't really say fairer than that.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

30 Posts of Truth-Part 12

12. Something You Never Get Complements On

I'm not really sure how you're supposed to answer this one without it sounding like you're complaining. I can't really think of anything I don't get complemented on either-I have friends who tell me I look good if I do and a boyfriend* who seems to be pretty happy with the way that I look/am so I'm happy.
And actually, even when I was single, I never felt un-complimented or unloved-I think I've just surrounded myself with excellent people who give compliments freely when they're deserved rather than hoarding them like misers.
There's not really anything of mine I don't get complimented on from time to time, because my friends are basically awesome-thanks guys!!


*Yes, this is a fairly new development to my life. Expect blogs on the subject soon.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

I Think They Call It An Ephiphany

-I would like to apologise for my mini hiatus-last week was my birthday week so I have been somewhat occupied with fun things and awesome people and therefore haven't spent much time on my blog-sorry!-

I've realised something over the last few weeks or so-something that should never have taken me so long to figure out, something that's actually been staring me in the face for nearly a year. There's a reason I'm so appalling at looking for/applying for jobs in Nottingham and that's because I don't want to be here. If I get a full time-or actually even a part time job in Notts then I have something that's keeping me here, an actual physical reason that I have to stay in a city that I no longer love. I've written before about how Nottingham isn't my city any more and that my heart belongs to Sheffield. I thought when I graduated that my restlessness came from having to live with my parents again but I do really think it's because I feel displaced-I'm not living in the place I want to be living in any more and it's slowly suffocating me.

I've never really been able to leave Sheffield behind me, I'm always popping up to visit and staying as long as I can afford to, I'm never happier than that moment when I step out of the train station doors and feel like I'm home again.
It means that I don't really feel like I'm actually living unless I'm there, a lot of the time I just feel like I'm marking time between my visits. My life is streaming past me and I'm content to just waste it with inactivity, my brain is stagnating and withering and I'm letting it-because I can't bring myself to care, force myself to reform attachments to the city that I have to live in because I've always lived in it. I feel like I'm having an illicit affair-I pine for Sheffield and Nottingham doesn't stand a chance of winning back my affections because it's just not the place I'm in love with, not any more.
I don't want to get a job here because then I would be stuck here for good and my other city would only become a dream, a fantasy. And I can't, I don't want that. I feel like I've just put my life on hold since coming home-I don't really do any of the things I love any more. I'm not involved with any performing arts groups-no singing, no acting, and I really miss being on a stage. But the only groups I want to audition for are in my City of Steel and there's nothing similar close by to me here, even if I did want to join.

I'm just stuck in this kind of apathy and although I am angry at myself for my inactivity I'm not angry enough to do anything about it-I'm too geographically misplaced. For my own sake and my sanity I need to go back so that I can start living again. I want to live as an independent adult rather than feeling like a teenager in my parents house, I want to constantly complain about how steep the hills are but know that they're my hills to complain about and love them for it. I want to live in one of the areas I love, shop in its shops and never need to venture too far away because it has everything I need. I want to hang out in beautiful parks and old fashioned pubs, to audition for too many shows, to go into sandwich shops and confuse them by asking for a 'cob' and to know that my heart is home and be happy again.

I'm sorry Nottingham, it's not you it's me, but I'm breaking up with you. My heart belongs to another and I need to go back home.