birthday, Home, Humour, Lifestyle

A decade of adulthood.

Ten years ago today I turned 18. I threw my first ever house party but, because I was a nerd, not a rebel, I didn’t plan it on a weekend where my family were away, so my parents, two brothers and my dog were unofficially held hostage in my mum and dad’s bedroom, banned from making a public appearance, except to clear away some leftover chicken drumsticks and to help fix my bed frame, which had mysteriously broken.

It was cocktail themed. Everyone had to come dressed as a cocktail and bring a lot of spirits. The craziest things that happened were we crowd-surfed in my lounge, the aforementioned broken bed was propped up with bricks for the next three years, and apparently two people had sex in my dog’s basket, but the dog never confirmed that. My entrance into adulthood was official.

Today I am 28 and last night I left a work party before 10pm because, ten years on, I’ve discovered I don’t really like parties. At least not when they’re on weekdays and I’ve had to organise them and they don’t include fancy dress.

I’m at this conflicting time in my life, where I still look like a teenager and feel like an imposter in adult places, like conference centres and the M1, but in many ways I have definitely, absolutely aged. Matured, like a cheese, but not an old cheese, not stilton or the ones that come wrapped in paper, like they might fall apart from old age if you don’t hold them together, and not a young cheese, a Babybel, a cheese string, that would be even more ridiculous than this analogy. Somewhere in between. But where exactly is that?

Brie? Double Gloucester? … Laughing Cow?

At 28 years old there is still so much I don’t know; when to use ‘who’ and ‘whom,’ why you have to rinse rice, what the collective noun is for a group of rhinos (just joking, it’s obviously a ‘crash’.) But just because school stopped a decade ago – along with my legwarmers obsession and ability to keep down peach schnapps – doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning.

I’ve learned loads, actually.

I’ve learned it doesn’t become easier to grate things with age. Cheese will always be slippery and run out within five minutes. Both lemons and limes will become more elusive and you will end up grating your own skin into a citrus meringue pie for the work bake off. Carrots will fuck you over every time.

I’ve learned that if you forget to have dinner before you go out on your 21st birthday you will be sick on yourself, your shoes and someone else’s shoes, and the worst possible solution is to pour a pint of water over yourself to disguise it. I’ve also learned that your best friends are the ones who have the photo of you soaked in water and vomit as their desktop background for the next five years.

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I’ve learned I’m not yet responsible enough to own a herb garden, nor am I capable of not spilling hot drinks either down myself or on important documents. And by important documents I mean my favourite postcard of a highland cow that has my exact morning hair, and my ticket stub from Celine Dion; I’m not yet adult enough to hold onto anything that is actually important. I also don’t know whether I should say ‘an herb garden’ or ‘a herb garden.’ One makes the inside of my skin feel funny but I guess if grammar were easy we’d all be spending a lot less time learning about commas in school and a lot more time learning about mortgages, and tax returns, and why you should always eat dinner before going clubbing.

After a decade of driving I still can’t parallel park when people (or squirrels) are watching and filling up the petrol tank makes me more anxious than disease. I iron my clothes about once a year and when I do I use my hair straighteners.

My idea of rebellion has not improved. The most daring act I commit on a regular basis is that even though the back of my hair conditioner says keep in for five minutes I get bored after 30 seconds and wash it out anyway. And sometimes I still eat dry pasta.

Alongside all those particularly life-defining experiences, some other things have happened in my adult life. I got a degree (but I have no bloody clue where the certificate is). I’ve discovered a taste for red wine. I’ve changed what I want to do with my life over 5000 times. I’ve written lots, laughed lots, cried lots. I’ve lost approximately seven pairs of headphones. I’ve developed IBS. I’ve gone from being able to run a bath to being able to run 8 miles and I’m still going. I’ve fallen in love with the same person twice and in my tenth year of adulthood I’m going to marry him. One of the main reasons I’m spending the rest of my life with him is because he’s really good at inventing games and activities at parties – he started the crowd-surfing at my 18th whilst dressed as a pink lady.

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I have zero clue what my next ten years of adulthood are going to be like. I have so many dreams.

I’d like to get paid to write. For real.

I’d like to adopt a staffie and call it Lego. Or adopt two staffies and call them ‘Fizzy’ and ‘Laces.’

I like to think I will be able to pull off mom jeans.

I’d like to have a baby without completely destroying my vagina and call it Lyra whether or not it’s a boy or a girl.

I’d like to become more confident about using spices in cooking.

I’d like a cupboard where all the mugs are different. No matching sets. Lots of personalities.

Mostly though, I want to spend the next 10 years making more mistakes. Being unafraid of failure. Improvising. Laughing. Because the biggest thing I’ve learned is that life’s too short for anything else. Oh, that, and to never ever wear a waist belt out in public again.

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Home, Humour, Lifestyle, Mental Health, realism

How I’m not afraid of my birthday (but still scared of watches)

twenties

I’m turning 26 next week and I still can’t wear a watch. I’m aware it sounds crazier than giving up sugar but it’s been over a decade and I’m yet to reconcile myself with the idea of having a clock attached to my body.  

At some point in my childhood I must have been okay about watches – I don’t remember wearing one but I do remember desperately wanting a Baby G for my birthday. You know what, thinking about it I’m not sure I ever got one. I’m gonna have to pick that up with my parents when I see them because it’s suddenly occurred to me that could be the reason I’ve spent most of my twenties feeling lost and confused. 

Or why I still have a lot of unrealistic expectations looking through the Argos catalogue.

Nevertheless, by the time I reached my teens the wrist was a no-go zone. Somewhere between dangling from a tree as a kid and noticing just how prominent the veins are when you cling onto things tight, to starting cumulative frequency aged fourteen and realising that no matter how many times you look at a clock in one day, time won’t pass any faster, things got irrational. 

It’s tricky to explain to someone who can wear a watch without their throat feeling tight just how nauseating the idea of time ticking against your pulse is. And obviously it’s even trickier to rationalise when you live in a time where watches don’t actually tick. But it’s as much a part of me as my croissant addiction and it’s here to stay.

On a related note, I’ve been trying to find a way back into my blog, because alongside work and croissants and writing a play and going on trips and not just to Tesco, I’ve been short on time. But it suddenly occurred to me that a year ago I was looking at turning a year older with a very different attitude. My dread levels were comparable to discovering dragons are the first task in the Triwizard tournament – or just whenever anyone takes out an acoustic guitar at a party. 

This year feels different though. If someone takes a guitar out at my birthday this weekend I’ll probably just attack them and resume normal service. We have thirteen guitars in our house (it’s a house of musicians by the way – not a museum) so if I’m not careful it’s fairly likely I’ll spend the rest of my twenties in prison. 

Somewhere along the line – whether it’s being in a full-time work for a year, in a theatre that I love, moving in with Eduardo (“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to buy me tampons”), being more creative or simply not wearing as many crop tops – I think I might have grown up.

Something has changed that means the prospect of turning 26 next week is not only not giving me a nervous breakdown, but actually getting me excited. I’m not talking Bake Off excited – because that would be ridiculous – but just positive vibes and real motivation for making it a year to remember. 

25 has been a weird year. Despite being more settled than the year before, I’ve still felt in limbo a lot – like I’m waiting for real life to begin, like I’m looking at myself from above wondering how that same person walking to work like an adult is the one who sometimes feels disproportionately sad about Mary-Kate and Ashley growing up to be really un-smiley. 

Breast scans and abnormal smear results have sent my health anxiety through the roof on many an occasion which has been about as helpful as algebra. I invested in some private therapy in the hope of discovering a worry-free existence and – despite one month having to sacrifice haircuts and vitamins to pay for it – it worked but it also meant a lot of delving into who I am, what I want and what I need, which has been kind of exhausting.

(I’d like to just add quickly – although I’ll be dedicating a whole blog to it at some point soon – that paying someone to help me get my head straight was the best decision I made this year and I recommend it with all my heart. Fight the stigma and look after yourselves please.) 

I haven’t run away from anything this year. I performed something I’ve written for the first time since age ten when I wrote a pop song called ‘Making love anytime/anywhere’ and sang it to my Dad without realising what it meant. Brexit and chronic hayfever happened. Christmas feels well and truly adult now, even if I’m still slightly scared of the sound of crackers. 

But I guess what got me thinking about the whole watch thing is that for the first time in a long time I feel okay about time passing. Clocks ticking. Seconds vanishing. By all means I’m still reasonably concerned that my frown line takes a lot of forehead stretching before it disappears in the morning. Mostly though – with the exception of doctors’ appointments which are still a minor to moderate distraction – I’ve stopped being so scared of the future. Butterflies are no longer part of my daily routine. I’ve stopped freaking out about change, or lack of sleep, or travelling. The prospect of tomorrow, next week, next month doesn’t scare me as much as not doing anything at all and not being happy with myself. 

So next year – well next year looks good.

I’m not fixed. I still can’t wear a watch; veins in compromising positions will always be an issue. But I’m making my 26th year on this planet the first I get my act together and give blood. Getting through life without wearing a watch is one thing, but I’m not letting a silly fear stop me from saving a life. 

Plenty of being 26 will be the same as it is now – except the part where I try and learn to pole vault in time to get to Tokyo in 2020. I want the little things to stay exactly the same. The people who keep my world spinning, adventures in the countryside, pun contests, a strong Tupperware game. I still have some work to do on not thinking about fatal illnesses too much. I’d also like to consume more cereal generally, my boobs to stop hurting all the time, to not cry the next time I try and do Park Run, to avoid getting my cactus caught in my hair a second time, and to win more 2ps at the arcade. 

This will be a birthday of not thinking about age and time and growing up. It will be a birthday of celebrating the now, with my favourite people, in Grease-fancy dress and threatening anyone who picks up that guitar. 

See you on the other side. X 

Graduates, Home, Humour, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

A birthday special

Sometimes life goes so fast I just want to lie down in the middle of Patisserie Valerie and have the staff smother me in that cake with all the profiteroles until I feel like I’ve got a better grip on all my senses. You get me?

My little blog is one whole year old. I’m expecting Hagrid to come crashing through my door any minute with a cake. 

Firstly I can’t explain well enough just how much I love spilling my heart and fears and puzzles and dignity on the internet so thank you so so much for sticking with me/reading/sharing/just making the commitment. Tying in nicely with the birthday week I have a brand new, positively gorgeous laptop. It feels so good to type on something that isn’t a fire hazard with more viruses than a sexual health clinic. 

The last year for me was the most shambolic, topsy turvy, all over the place twelve months since the year I tried to learn how to tap dance and the best thing about experiencing alllll the chaos has definitely been oversharing it online. 

Actually, one year on, I’m more baffled by life as a twenty-something than ever before, but I’ve never been happier about it. I’m learning to love the dilemmas. Realising you live in a world where vegan soap exists, planes disappear into thin air, Hogwarts letters are lost, and contouring is now a thing on your face, not just Ordnance Survey maps, means you stop hyperventilating at everything and realise life is a) pretty funny b) just fine. 

In the last year I’ve discovered real life is a bit like Chemistry GCSE. It’s confusing and you might get burned but we’re all going through it together just with quinoa instead of goggles. Blog-wise I’ve learned that everyone also secretly loves a bit of catastrophe and TMI, because bonding. It still comes as a surprise to me but the most popular posts I’ve written are the ones about periods, sore boobs, anxiety faves and hormones on holiday. Apparently the world (aka my Facebook) likes all the gore that comes with being a girl with skewed hormones and no filter. And boy do I love that. 

Because I’m on the subject of birthdays I started reminiscing about some of my birthday faves, nightmares, hilarities from my last twenty five years on this planet. (Because I’ve literally got nothing better to do while I wait for Hagrid, okay?) After all it was the prospect of turning 25 that inspired me to start writing down all the tragicomedy of being a twenty-something. 

Over a decade ago (FML), on my fourteenth birthday, I was on holiday in Italy with my family. I was feeling fly because I had a sweet little suntan ready for school, pretty rad braids obvs and had made friends with a strange German girl who I was hoping to take home with me. 

Then I walked out into the middle of the road with my mum and my littlest brother and us two siblings got hit by a motorbike. Turns out this dude had just got out of a coma after hitting a lorry. What a muggle. 

The first thing I remember is him offering me a cigarette (yup) and the second thing I remember is the Italian medic equivalent of Josh Hartnett arriving on a moped, whipping off his fluorescent helmet to reveal a bandana, and taking me to hospital. Apparently I told my dad I was in love and that’s how he knew I wasn’t going to die. 

Later, this paramedic found me in the hospital and sang happy birthday to me and it went from being the worst birthday ever to the best birthday any (pretty minging even when they haven’t just been run over) teenager could have wished for. 

I still class him as my first serious boyfriend.

‘Cause birthdays are at risk of being traumatic at any age, even when you’re not face to face with tarmac, right? The birthday bumps at school were positively punitive. Then again so’s turning 21, forgetting to eat dinner, being sick on someone’s shoes in a club and pouring a pint of water down yourself “as a disguise.”

There are highs and lows even when you’re not turning a quarter of a century old. 

And especially when you end up in Benidorm.

Ironically despite milking turning 25 for writing material  for months and months I didn’t actually end up celebrating it. Instead I went to a wedding, ate two hog roasts and experimented with multiple ways to keep a stick-on bra stuck on. 

Which I think is pretty civilised. I’ve come a long way. 

Seriously though, more like “falls-off-after-one-round-of-macarena-bra.”

So 24dilemmas is one year older. Hagrid’s not here yet, for those of you who were wondering.

I feel like a new mother except I’m not lactating. I really hope I’ve got my hair cut by the time it’s two. I keep putting it off and it’s been like 10 months and my split ends are so bad now I look like I’ve touched a live wire. 

You know what, though, I’m pretty excited for what’s to come. When I’m not biting my nails or finding croissant crumbs in my scarf I’m dreaming up ideas of what to do next. So thanks for reading and please don’t stop because it’s important I look witty and not on the verge of a breakdown.

ALL the love and au revoir xxxxx 

Home, Lifestyle

HELLO 25.

I was in a really weird place in January, as most people are, you know the score. You’re on a pretty excruciating mince pie come-down, puddles stop being reflective pools of Christmas light and love and start being pools of potential hypothermia, the pressure of a new beginning manifests itself in one failed attempt at a run and one rather more successful attempt at becoming an alcoholic.

At the beginning of this year, unsure of where I was, where I wanted to be, and how I could get there, I distinctly remember catching sight of myself in the reflection of an escalator and noticing I have a wonky mouth. And to me, this signalled everything in my life was a bit off-balance. I’ve always been someone who’s been pretty sure of what I was looking for in life (a job I love, real love, Antonio Banderas’ phone number…) and half way up that escalator I felt more than a bit lost with not nearly enough boxes ticked.

I don’t feel like it’s a coincidence that I started writing at that time, when my confidence and direction was at its lowest. And as I’ve been writing, and sharing, and most commonly over-sharing, whilst I’ve loved making you lot laugh at my various dilemmas, a lot of what I’ve been writing about has still come from that place of struggle, confusion, worry, fear. And obviously sometimes just hunger pains. As anyone who’s been following this blog knows, at the beginning of this year I set myself the equally minute and infinite and completely irrational aim of becoming a real life grown up by my 25th birthday, and amidst all the other dilemmas I’ve been facing (the most recent one being the amount of hair that somehow seems to get into the washing machine and tangled up in my tights) it’s suddenly swept up on me without warning.

Way back when at the beginning of the year I saw September as two things. Firstly, it was the month I would turn 25, and in my own eyes, had to take certain steps towards adulthood and stop running away. Secondly, it would mark a full year since I made a pretty life-changing decision to take time out from real life, to re-evaluate everything, to find change. I’m looking at September now and it means completely different things. It marks four months since my last pay-check. It’s the last time I need to pay the rent in my Clapham flat before I move in with Eduardo. It’s definitely time I got a haircut. Oh, and not forgetting my first smear test.

My birthday has always felt simultaneously like an end and a beginning. For over a decade, marking the end of the summer holidays and the start of a new school year, it was both birthday and doomsday. Last year I left full-time work the day before my birthday, and despite spending a picture perfect day with my favourite people, I remember being distinctly anxious, guilty and afraid at what would come next. That pressure I felt then, and again at the start of 2015, the pressure to know myself, to find direction, to get happy, has stayed with me all year. And because of that this year has been hard. Turns out you can’t pay rent with what’s left on your Oyster card no matter how hard you try. Who knew?

This year has also been pretty special. I’ve worked on what feels like a bazillion shows and festivals with some of the most inspiring, talented, creative, special, unique people I could wish to know, up to and including all 30 four-year olds in one Christmas nativity and one donkey who didn’t make it on stage. And it’s those experiences that mean now, as I look ahead, smear-test and all, I’m excited about the future. Obviously I still feel scared. I mean, how big is the speculum? But one of the things I’ve discovered on this rollercoaster journey is that I don’t function well unless I have some kind of fear. It motivates, challenges, inspires me.

It’s now a week before I turn 25 and I just started a new job, at a company I could only have dreamed of this time a year ago. I feel braver now. I still have a long way to go but I’m happy with the road I’m on. And I’m happy knowing that an element of catastrophe runs in my veins and makes me who I am. So does playfulness, laughter, a lot of love and a little bit too much sugar. As the big day approaches (it genuinely is a big day, my friend is getting married), instead of ending my last blog post as a 24-year old on a tragic note, with the knowledge that I still look like a teenager and get my knickers in a twist on a daily basis, I wanted to celebrate the things I’m holding onto tight. In a year where I’ve been actively searching for change, in myself, my surroundings, (my hair, always), there are some things I don’t want to end. Or that maybe just won’t ever leave me…

So it’s just fine to be turning 25 and…

Ask three friends in one week to feel their boobs and compare them to yours so you know yours are normal.

To wake up in the morning feeling so tired you try to straighten your hair with Netflix.

To not listen to anyone when they tell you your hair doesn’t look that much like Mufasa after a blowdry and just keep straightening.

To listen to ‘The Face of Voldemort’ from the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Philsopher’s Stone every day on your way to work just to put things into perspective.

To contemplate not moving in with your boyfriend when you ask for a dog and he replies with, “No, Emma, but there’s an ant colony under the recycling bin you can have.”

To base your final decision on moving in together on the fact he agreed to buy a pink Hetty hoover to be your Henry hoover’s girlfriend.

To not have fixed everything.

To still not like wine. Or blue cheese.

To not-so-secretly wish that one day you will wake up and be in F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

To believe more than ever before that croissants are the meaning of life.

And on that note thanks for reading and for sticking with me on this wild little road, my gorgeous readers (all five of you…) and for not outing me after the period blog. Here’s to more chaos in my next quarter-of-a-century. LOVE AND LAUGHTER XXX