Home, Humour, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Confidence: what is it and how do I get some?

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I daydream about The Sound of Music an unhealthy amount.

I daydream about having a four octave range. I daydream about making clothes from curtains. I daydream about running up stone steps and climbing trees with a gang of siblings. (I’m not currently talking to either of my brothers as one of them bought they other one a ‘make your own felt soup dragon’ from The Clangers and didn’t get me one. And I can’t run up any steps without an inhaler. Also I’m an adult now.) I daydream about fucking over a group of Nazis by fiddling around with their car engine. I daydream about living in the mountains. I daydream about my life being a musical. I daydream about becoming a nun so I don’t have to decide what to wear every day and, also, you know, a place in heaven and an actual life plan.

There are more dreams and aspirations to take away from The Sound of Music than there are Nando’s order combinations, but it’s now, at the ripe old age of 28, as I embark on a new adventure called “freelance writer”, that I’m starting to think about maybe the biggest one of all. Confidence. That moment in the film where Maria has to find it in herself to do what she dreams of, to be brave, to stop doubting herself and to face her fears; to be confident.

Please allow me to pause briefly in my narrative, to contextualise the lyrics of Confidence in light of my new life as a freelance writer, so you get an idea of where I’m at right now, mentally and lyrically.

What will this day be like? I wonder.

(I open my laptop. Some melted chocolate is stuck under the “F7” key. I think about cleaning it but decide against it, for no particular reason.)

What will my future be? I wonder.

(One month into trying to write for a living, I’m googling that job at Edinburgh zoo I read about; the person who has to pick penguins up who keep falling over because of the planes flying in the sky above them.)

It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free

(If only I could actually bring myself to write something)

My heart should be wildly rejoicing

(OMG I get to be on SNL, what?)

Oh, what’s the matter with me?

(I genuinely have no idea how that could ever happen)

I’ve always longed for adventure

(By which I mean a Hogwarts letter…)

To do the things I’ve never dared

(By which I mean eat the hottest sauce at Nando’s, or, you know, actually put myself forward for something or say “I’m good. Pick me”)

Now here I’m facing adventure

(Freelancing)

Then why am I so scared?

(Rent to pay… wedding to organise… the fact my vagina went numb for two days, but that’s another story)

A captain with seven children

(By captain I mean biscuit tin, and by children I mean biscuits, and by seven I mean none, because I ate them all before lunchtime)

What’s so fearsome about that?

(Bloating, diabetes…)

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries

(You’re telling me)

If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back

(Honestly, if this doesn’t work out, I’m happy to go back to any job I’ve had previously, except the one temping for an account who dribbled on me.)

I must dream of the things I am seeking

(To…be…a…writer…TO… BE… A… WRITER…)

I am seeking the courage I lack

(Seeking it in the fridge, in a yoghurt pot, because probiotics solve everything… right?)

You still with me? Good.

Confidence. Confidence. It’s a weird one. I think somewhere along the line I used to have it. I must have felt confident when I wrote my first pop song, at the age of eight, and performed it to my dad who, bless him, had to let me know it wasn’t appropriate to sing: “anytime, anywhere, you and I, well, I care lots, because when I’m with you we can make love.” Yes. You read that lack of scansion correctly. Lucky I’m not trying to be a freelance lyricist.

I also think, at times, I have it now. Or one kind at least. The courage to get up on stage and improvise in front of a paying crowd every week (although not enough to come off stage and stop myself from immediately apologising to my team mates for ruining the show). The kind that tells me it’s a good idea to write blogs and post them on the internet, not even anonymously (although not enough to feel crippled with fear and self-doubt the minute I hit publish). I will leave the house without make up, walk around in my underwear (obviously when appropriate, not at the dentist), happily talk to strangers.

But, that proper, deep-down self-belief, in who I am, and what I want to do with my life. That’s… harder for me to come to terms with, I’m realising. I had three back-to-back meetings the day I churned out this blog on a particularly uneventful train journey home, and kept wondering why I apologise in advance for everything I say and do. Why I don’t appear to have any belief in the ideas I’m presenting until someone else tells me they’re okay. Why I resort to jokes, or self-deprecation, when someone says something nice about me. For example:

“I like your hair.” “Thanks. I have a short stump at the back that you can’t see where it accidentally caught fire.”

“Your show was great.” “Thanks. I basically shat myself before I went on stage.”

We all do it. From time to time. Some more than others. I think. Women, especially.

“I like your dress.” “It was on sale, it would look better on you, it’s baggy around my waist/my nipples/my elbows.”

“You’re so good at this or that.” “No I’m not. Don’t be stupid. Why would you say that? No I’m not.

I cried a lot last week, turned into a bit of an anxiety wreck, and went to bed, because I lost track of a play I’m writing. I just couldn’t find a way out of it. And I ended up being so full of self-despair that I couldn’t look at my computer anymore. But when the loathing passed, I got a bit mad at myself. That I always see the worst in myself and the work I do. That I can’t seem to ever argue on my own behalf. That I have so little faith in myself. That I was drafting up an email telling the people who commissioned me that they should approach someone else.

It’s particularly tricky when you’re trying to publicise a show that you’ve written and that you’re also performing, as I was doing a month ago. I needed people to come and see it (like, in a box office guarantee way, you know) and, I guess, somewhere deep down, I did want people to see it too, but I also sort of didn’t, because it made me feel nauseous and vulnerable and exposed. So it’s a strange thing, going on social media and yelling, COME AND SEE MY PLAY, when there’s a giant part of you going, DON’T. DON’T DO IT. GO AND HAVE A DONUT INSTEAD. NOTHING BEATS A DONUT.

This isn’t who I want to be. I’m all for empowering women, lifting my sisters up with me, as someone cooler than me might phrase it, so why am I so bad at empowering myself? Where does it come from? Will I have my ‘Maria walking round the abbey walls’ moment where I suddenly start singing and believing in myself? Where will that epiphany take place? Tesco? The shower? The toilet on a South Eastern train? Should I just go to Austria? Is Austria where dreams are made?

For a little while now, it’s felt like this ‘thing’ I’m trying to do in life is just a game I’m playing. Like a strange version of The Sims with more croissants. I feel frequently that I’m having some kind of out of body experience, I’m watching myself, and laughing. Is it just me? I doubt it somehow.

I don’t have any answers. I’m genuinely curious to hear from people who’ve found it. Found that core, that nut of confidence that keeps them centered, that keeps them moving, that stops them from saying “sorry” or “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” or questioning constantly, wasting time questioning, instead of spending time sensibly, at a donut shop, where only good decisions are made. It’s in me somewhere, I’m sure. If someone told me, “you’re not funny” I think I’d have a thing or two to say about that, but I probably wouldn’t actually say it, I’d probably just feel a thing or two, and then go home and eat some more yoghurt.

Obviously this is a largely millennial, first-world problem. I’m aware I may be coming across extremely vain and self-involved and I need to get over myself, do what I have to do, and then do something worthwhile, like volunteer in a community allotment, or rescue a dog, or argue against tampon tax more often. But hey, I’m flawed, extremely flawed actually, physically too; that numb vagina could come back at any minute. It’s a constant threat. In that, my friends, I am confident.

Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London, Mental Health, social media

Inspired by Britney Spears: what happens when it gets toxic.

Baby, give me it
You’re dangerous
I’m loving it

Too high
Can’t come down
Losin’ my head
Spinnin’ ’round and ’round
Do you feel me now?

Oh,
The taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You’re toxic I’m slippin’ under
With a taste of a poison paradise

I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?

(Britney Spears, 2013)

Saying ‘social media is toxic’ out loud is about as revelatory as saying the green pasta twirls are the best; everyone knows it. If it wasn’t so faffy (and wasteful) buying a packet of Tricolore and picking out just the green ones, I’d absolutely be bingeing on them as much as I binge on Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, you name it. But I’m not. I’m sticking to good old fashioned fusili, because I don’t have the time for that shit and I’m waiting until they just do the right thing and invent entirely green packs of pasta, and also, I’m too busy bingeing on Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, you name it.

I work from home on Fridays. Last week was possibly the busiest week in recent memory (and my memory isn’t great because social media keeps killing off my brain cells). On top of my job which that week included organising a press night, I had improv rehearsals, an improv show, a photo shoot, rehearsals for another play and several meetings squished in around that like a tea cosie of added pressure. It was a great week – I like being busy and everything sort of worked and went okay and I look my age and not like a haggard old hypothermic witch in like 75% of the photographs – but it’s been 11 days since I’ve had a day to just ‘be’ and so last night I thought I’d not bother setting an alarm and wake up naturally.

At 7.45pm – because apparently when you turn 28 you become a morning person – for approximately 36 seconds I felt like a goddess. My body and brain was refreshed and my electric blanket was more comforting than a hug from Oprah. Then I picked up my phone and began the morning scroll. 47 minutes later I’m a different woman. I’m stewing over a cup of tea, feeling nauseous, distracted, unmotivated, and, ever so slightly wizened. Excuse my use of ‘wizened,’ it’s just so fun to say.

I spent a few minutes talking to my sister-in-law, who I live with, about how I need to start charging my phone downstairs and investing in an alarm clock, so I can’t tempt myself with all the glories of the online world before I can even properly see out of one eye. I then grabbed my phone and deleted all the apps. I mean, I say all the apps, I kept Whatsapp – because I’m not ready to lose my entire friendship group and I have a lot of long distance relationships to maintain – and I deleted Facebook ages ago because these days it’s about as interesting as a pot of houmous. But I did plonk Twitter and Instagram in the trash and now I’m sitting down to contemplate where to go.

When I think about what I’ve seen on social media this week it’s no wonder I’m ageing prematurely and constantly vomming a small bit in my mouth. On Twitter, before 8am, I’ve seen pigs being tortured, racist Halloween costumes, stories of sexual assault, men telling women they’re shit, women telling men they’re shit and petty, bitchy gossip which is reminiscent of being 14, except in year nine we had MSN so we just said it to people’s faces. On Instagram, I’m seeing people’s holiday snaps, perfect vegan breakfasts, nights out, cocktails, shopping hauls, pumpkin after pumpkin after sodding pumpkin, often shared by people I know – and I’m including myself in this – aren’t actually happy. Not really.

Why are we teasing each other with snapshots of our perfect moments when life isn’t perfect? What are we doing to each other? Why are we playing this game, which we all know isn’t real, to make ourselves feel better for a split-second until we see a picture of someone else in a bikini/drinking a frappuccino/getting a free holiday/getting engaged/having a baby/being more successful than us/buying a house/spending loads of money/being cool and suddenly feel shit again?

When I was on holiday I turned the data on my phone off and started writing a blogpost I never ended up publishing. It was called “vacation: unfiltered” because I got really cliché in Tuscany. Yet again, I’d reached a point where I spent more time looking at Twitter and Instagram than I did breathing, blinking and, judging by the state of my IBS, digesting food. Something had to change. So why not add to the challenges I had already set myself for holiday (get a tan, regular bowel movements, eat ice cream every day) and turn off that free 4G?

Here were some of my entries, about the detox but also compensations for the one photograph of the pool I gave in and uploaded to Instagram, in the form of some holiday truths.

It’s Tuesday as I write, and I haven’t been on Facebook since Friday. I checked Twitter once, because it’s Edinburgh Fringe and I get FOMO, and I gave into temptation and posted a photo of our swimming pool on Instagram, because, let’s face it, us millennials have been bred to brag, and what’s the point of having a swimming pool to yourselves set against a backdrop of Tuscan vineyards if you can’t ignore the view and instead spend 15 minutes showing off to people, most of whom aren’t your friends?

I’ve checked Instagram once and Whatsapp about twice a day – because I’m very attached to my friends, and also there are other ways of bragging.

We have been truly ravaged by mosquitoes. I look like a pepperoni pizza.

Yesterday I got stung between the eyes by a wasp and it’s only thanks to the fact I’m already double-dosing on antihistamines due to my worldwide hay fever together with the fact my body is already covered in red bumps that you can’t tell. 

In fact, I also have spots thanks to sun cream that are worse, far worse, so that’s nice.

I have IBS. The biggest triggers for bloating that can rival a woman who is six months pregnant are dairy and white flour. My diet on holiday has mostly comprised of pizza, pasta, bruschetta, ice cream, yoghurt and extra bread alongside every meal. My attempt at eating vegan regularly has flown so far out the window I THINK it has landed somewhere in the Yorkshire dales. If it’s any consolation I did find vegan Calippos and, if I hadn’t already posted on Facebook that Ed and I are getting married, I would be at the registry office right now, trying to make a Vegan Calippo my life partner.

I think I have three ingrown hairs on my bikini line.

It took us three days to find good food out. It might look picturesque but Tuscany’s main delicacies are wild boar and steak – not ideal for vegetarians.

Our shower only releases one line of water, like when a hose (or penis) dribbles a bit. Washing over half a metre of thick hair is one hell of an adventure.

And, finally, the image I project on social media versus the reality:

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The irony about writing this blog post is I’m entirely reliant on social media to get anyone to read it. So, already, within about an hour of deleting the apps I’m travelling the old-fashioned browser route to satisfy my approval cravings. And I’m reliant on it in other ways too. I’d never have raised over £1000 for my half marathon without Facebook. No one would come and see my shows. I wouldn’t be able to stalk cute babies dressed as characters from Killing Eve. I’d be ignorant of many world events – and equally at risk of staying in my tiny bubble.

But something has to change. Today a particularly vicious, gleeful cycle of bitching on Twitter pushed me over the edge. Me taking a break isn’t going to change anything – but I might actually be able to get some work done today if I stop letting it overwhelm me. It’s not always industry-related. Sometimes it’s an animal cruelty video. Or an Instagram story by someone whose life is cooler than mine. So I guess this is my way of making a promise to myself – to detach from it all – and also, as much as I find it hard to imagine that anyone has read my blog and thought ‘I’m so jealous of that cystitis-fuelled, anxiety-ridden queen of IBS,’ to just compensate for any part I’m playing in that social media game by dismantling it, acknowledging the bullshit, and taking off the filter.

It’s Friday morning. It’s 10am. I’ve done no actual work yet except write this blog. I’m sat in my Harry Potter pyjama bottoms with no bra on. I think I’m allergic to my laundry detergent so I’m regularly itching various parts of my body. I just ate Cornflakes with oat milk – part of my vegan agenda that begins at 8am and ends as soon as I eat chocolate and cheese later in the day. My hands are numb because the house is cold. I’m me.

 

 

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, Secret Diary of a Tall Girl

Secret Diary of a Tall Girl #2

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Oh hi there, friends. Welcome back to the second instalment of SDOATG (I know, I’m not supposed to include the O and the A, but I love vowels too much, just shoot me.)

Right now it’s Sunday evening and I’m in bed not watching Game of Thrones. I’m also putting off washing my hair. I don’t know about you but washing my hair is definitely one of my top five most hated activities, beating smear tests (although not colposcopies), getting wax in places I shouldn’t, reading “I’m so pleased to finally be able to announce” social media updates, and trying to swallow big mushrooms.

Once I can no longer get away with dry shampooing the shit out of it so I look like a cross between an old dish sponge and a ginger Severus Snape, I enter the same phase of stress normal people might get before deciding whether to jump out of a plane, or drag themselves into a sexual health clinic. And then proceeds an arduous, painful discussion, sometimes in my own head, and sometimes with Eduardo if he’s unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity, where I have to talk myself into getting in the shower.

Perhaps it’s because my hair is long. Perhaps it’s because it’s thick. Perhaps it’s because it’s naturally curly so it holds onto water like a camel so when I try and blow it dry in my bedroom it’s like being stuck in an aga with a highland cow. Either way, I procrastinate before hair-washing more than I ever did for my dissertation and until I get the balls to get it all chopped off it’s probably going to stay that way.

This has been a bit of a mad week, guys. It took me approximately ten days to get over a summer cold. A summer cold. Obviously I googled why we get colds in summer, just to check it wasn’t meningitis (turns out the reason I had a headache and couldn’t look at the light is because the cure for a summer cold is 2000mg a day of vitamin C, not back to back episodes of Glow). Anyway, apparently one reason can be exercise, so I’ve decided I’m going to try and stay in shape by sneezing as regularly as possible instead.

We’ve just come back from a wedding weekend in Wales (literally just did a mini orgasm from that alliteration – anyone else?) which was fun for so many reasons; being reunited with a million school friends, having a nest of baby birds above our bnb, celebrating love and all that jazz, and the fact the weather was forecast to be so unbelievably poor on Thursday night Eduardo and I had to cancel camping and become extremely basic instead.

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We booked a last minute discounted spa hotel in Cardiff like absolute Kardashians and I had my first ever steam room experience. I spent the first five minutes freaking out that this how Chandler feels in that steam room episode of Friends, and then realised I don’t like steam rooms. Seriously, it’s like being in a kettle, but with less dignity. The sauna isn’t any better, in fact, I think it’s worse. There’s an element of novelty to a steam room; the aforementioned Friends nostalgia, and the fact it reminds me of when I take food out of the oven with my glasses on. Whereas a sauna is everything that’s terrible about sunbathing without any prospect of a tan.

Give me a pool and some goggles any day. We also booked in for breakfast, because when in Rome, and they had an unlimited supply of croissants and a vat of porridge. So I got to live out my dream of eating pastry until I have to lie down, at the same time as pretending I’m in Oliver Twist.

It’s fun hanging out with Ed outside of our house, and Tesco. I mean, this summer has officially bankrupted us, and what with holidays, three weddings in a row, and the fact that he has to get physio for his old man joints and I have to buy endless amounts of Sudocrem for my adult acne, I’m not sure how much we’re going to be able to lark about like celebrities in Wales come autumn.

But right now, I’m grateful. For the fact that we somehow managed to escape a nine-hour traffic jam to Swansea. That the sun came out and we got a swim in the sea. That we got a whole weekend with some of our favourite people, on the beach. That I got to listen to Celine Dion and Delta Goodrem the whole way. That I’m finally not coughing my guts up like I smoke a pack a day. This week is another crazy one. Back to work. A trip to the theatre. Another wedding on the horizon, which I’m so excited for I might even get my eyebrows tinted.

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It’s also my uncle’s birthday this week, and amongst all the sun, and the celebrations, and the inevitable food babies, every single day without fail I think of him. This will be an extra special week, of raising a glass to a phenomenal man who left us way too soon. And although someone wonderful and unforgettable is missing, he has also left me feeling so full, lucky, honoured to have known him. So cheers to a week of spending time with the people we love, good road trip snacks, keeping hydrated, free Prosecco, and singing songs for the ones who might not be with us on the dance floor, in the car, on the end of the phone, but who are definitely, without a doubt, still here.

Happy Sunday. X

Home, Humour, Lifestyle, London

Looking backwards, then looking forwards, both hopefully without walking into a lamp post.

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Happy New Year you sexy beasts!

Today I started the year as I mean to go on; with a bowl full of Star Wars cereal and a lack of desire to wash my hair. After a week of friends, family, shortbread bingeing, country air, dog envy, wellies, board games, and refusing to go anywhere without my slippers, I’m back in London and ready to get into the swing of things, big time.

Right now I’m thinking about insuring my gadgets – so clearly this is the year I take over the world and become extremely boring.

I wanted to jump on the reflections and resolutions bandwagon even if it’s just giving myself a pat on the back for grating cheese last year without injuring myself and lining up some exciting goals including getting a better rounders bat. 2016 was a bullshit year for us all and some things are hard to recover from. So it’s lucky we’re all superheroes, hey?

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2016, THE BEST BITS.

  • Starting improvisation classes. It’s all about meeting new friends, playing around and growing in confidence. Plus learning things is SO COOL (said Hermione). Bring on term two.
  • Writing a play with one of my best friends, the one and only Tamar Broadbent (remember her name). We have two shows coming up on January 24 and 27 at The Bunker Theatre so come see please as we don’t have enough grandmas between us to fill 220 seats. (Tickets HERE!)
  • Living in the countryside. Okay, so when I say living in the countryside, really I mean the London/Kent border but in comparison to where I was living before it’s practically the sticks. I love being a 10-minute drive from fields that stretch all the way to the horizon. I might be a city girl in the week, but the weekend is for farms, wellies and fresh air and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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  • Sitting at a table in a hotel and having someone make me a pain au chocolat from scratch.
  • My Macbook has changed my life. I’m dying inside as I type that but having a computer that works without catching fire, doesn’t run out of battery before I’ve opened up a window, and that’s light enough for me to carry into work and write on every day/lunch/commute is the bomb. Apple – you can sponsor me whenevs, babe, you’ve got my number (and everyone’s number you fucking weirdo.)
  • Being in a job I love, with people who are fun and kind, who let me write a staff panto, have an endless snack selection, and which means I can actually pay my rent without having a heart attack is cool. Who knew?

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  • Finding my sharks. Period.
  • On starting my tax return, discovering to my amazement I’ve kept my government gateway password in my oyster card holder for an entire year and it’s the first time I don’t need to call up HMRC to get new log-in details. I think that means I’m now responsible enough to get a dog.
  • The people who make my world go round. Eduardo for being my shark dad and other half, my family for being my core and such fun, and all my friendlings for not complaining about coming to my shows, and generally being the best humans on earth.

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2016, THE OUTTAKES.

  • We all know anxiety is a bitch. And whilst my stress levels are down, butterflies are dormant, general throat swelling and stomach churning is stable, it’s still the bane of my life and the journey isn’t over because I’m still a nightmare hypochondriac. So let’s make 2017 a year of more talking about mental health; it really works.
  • Having a second smear test because of an abnormal result was a real piece of dick, and I’m kind of dreading going back for my annual check-up this month. But how lucky are we for the NHS, and how unusual and innovative a start to the year it is when someone spray paints your cervix, and thank god for wine.
  • No one invites cancer and yet it always turns up to the best parties. Losing someone special this year turned my world upside down, and still catches me mid-breath. But the people you love never really leave you; they are in piano keys, and family, and laughter, and sunshine. So here’s to a year of making the most of every single minute and saying I love you.
  • Losing faith in half the country, and then half of America, and also a lot of humankind has been a strange one for us all to deal with this year. None of us have the answers, and I imagine it’s another year ahead of unease, disappointment, frustration and battles that seem impossible. But I have faith in people, in action, in goodness, in kindness and in working together. Let’s make magic happen.
  • One year later, deep in the depths of winter, my allergies are going nowhere. Pretty sure I’ve single-handedly kept Kleenex in business, that 60% of the water in my body is lemon and honey, and I’ve permanently damaged the insides of my sinuses from nasal spray. Consequently I’m thinking about naming my first born Hayfever.

AND FINALLY, 2017’S RESOLUTIONS, IN BRIEF (BECAUSE I’M ABOUT TO MAKE ED WATCH THE SOUND OF MUSIC FOR THE FIRST TIME).

  • I want to be less addicted to my phone. No more stalking Zoella on Twitter and getting annoyed that she spells LOTS with an apostrophe.
  • Exercise has got to make an appearance. My arms feel like playdoh right now and I’d like to have upper body strength for the following hypothetical scenarios; meeting Donald Trump and punching him, riding a whale, and breaking a Terry’s chocolate orange open with my bare hands.
  • More sleep is coming my way and stress is being kicked out the park this year.
  • Taking my bra off earlier in the day is high on the agenda, or perhaps just finding way to discretely not wear one. They are such a pile of shit and I’m having none of it.
  • Laughing as much as possible. Seriously, I want this year to be full of stomach-spasming, side-splitting LOLS.
  • Following on from that I might get an experimental haircut. And also I want to be better at accents. Someone please help me.
  • Instead of trying to be revolutionary and give up lip balm, I just want to make sure I have enough lip balms in every bag, pocket and room in the house so I never hyperventilate when I lose one.
  • I want to give everything I have to creative projects. This year is the year I give it my all. Whether it’s the play, or the podcast, the blog, or getting extremely good at plasticine, I want to have enough faith in myself to grab every opportunity going and make. things. happen.
  • I’d like to do more for charity, join more political protests, read more books, see more films, speak more Spanish, and buy shoes that fit.
  • Finally, I never want to forget the priorities. The people I love to the bottom of my heart, health and happiness, sharks, sleep, protecting the planet, complaining less and acting more, and being kind.
blogdream1
Can I see my future from here?

Happy New Year all of you. Let’s do this. X

Home, Humour, Lifestyle, realism

26 things every twenty-something experiences at Christmas

Happy Christmas you total babes – hope you are all super happy and still have some advent calendar chocolates left. Three days to go and hands up who’s unprepared? I have bought one present so far. Yesterday I came dangerously close to asking one of those copper giraffes in Oliver Bonas to just hold me until it’s all over.

I have realised (horrifyingly) that this is the last Christmas of my mid-twenties and to celebrate my middle age I’ve made a little list of everything I’ve discovered about everyone’s favourite day, at a time in your life when you’re a non-child but also a non-adult and sit somewhere in between circling everything you want in the Argos catalogue and asking for a slow cooker.

This one’s for everyone who loves Christmas with all their heart but journeys rapidly from hyperventilating over red cups to being a little bit sick in their mouth at the thought of it all (and not just because you ate four types of bird).

26 things every twenty-something discovers at Christmas.

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1 Seasonal anxiety is now a thing. When everyone else is practically weeing themselves over tinsel and mulled wine there are times you feel like you could be sick into a stocking from all the pressure. Solution: duvet, hot chocolate and Home Alone. That way you’re on topic without having a breakdown.

2 You promise yourself to start as you mean to go on and attempt your New Year’s resolution early (mine’s learning the Mean Girls dance in time for next Christmas). Thirty seconds after arriving home and inhaling an entire ham, you’re horizontal with a box of matchmakers, crying over E.T and thinking about what your ideal novelty shower head would be (mine is Dobby.)

3 Whether it’s treating yourself to an eggnog latte only to burn your tongue so badly you lose the ability to operate your own mouth, or accidentally choking yourself with your scarf when it gets stuck on the escalator, December is full of hazards just waiting to trip you up. So it’s safer to always be drunk.

4 Turns out no matter how good you’ve been this year, Santa can’t cure your addiction to lip balm or introduce you to Amy Poehler.

5 Calories exist. They creep in at the back of your mind, like a January essay deadline or the threat of chlamydia, but now you’re a twenty-something denial is BAE. So you eat as much as you can as quickly as possible and then have a bath.

6 There is a small but pretty intense part of you that hates children for a) truly believing and b) getting iPads when you were lucky if you got one of those felt worms on an invisible string.

7 It’s okay to wake up feeling a bit depressed on Christmas morning because you’re 26, not Lena Dunham, still in your overdraft, and permanently cold.

8 Lush is THE most frightening store in the world. Everyone is too happy and glitter gets in your lungs. If you dare to enter, wear a mask, don’t make eye contact, grab a bath bomb and leg it.

9 You might cry into the fridge freezer because your relatives are weird and you’ve lost sight of who you are but that’s fine because that’s where the Prosecco is.

10 Advocat has the ability to solve most of life’s problems except climate change and bloating. You’ve been telling everyone since childhood that snowballs are the best and are slightly pissed off that it’s suddenly made a fashionable comeback on Instagram complete with its own knitted jumper.

11 You’d never admit it but all the lights and the cinnamon and the annual social life make you lose your appetite a little bit. Can’t we just lie down and go back to doing what we do best – wishing we were Taylor Swift?

12 You know what the opposite of festive is? Blemish-preventative skincare in your stocking. If Santa can help me get past puberty by next Christmas that would be ABOUT BLOODY TIME.

13 Winter plays with your emotions. All random objects look snuggly, sexy and sad at the same time and it takes all your willpower to not pug-nap pugs in jumpers or spoon red phone boxes because they look so seasonal and needy.

14 Turns out there is nothing that can come between you and an entire bowl of Marks and Spencer honey-coated cashews. Who knew?

15 Discovering you can’t play a Kazoo and join the cracker Kazoo orchestra will break your spirit. Prepare yourself.

16 Because you’re old you now need to do a vocal warm up before smashing carol descants. If you’re me, this means rolling down the windows of your Fiat Punto en route and sirening Mariah Carey to three cows and a stag.

17 It becomes harder and harder to pick a favourite Quality Street because your adult life is now so full of regret and bad decisions you know it won’t just end there.

18 December is exhausting. More tiring than cross country in year 3. More tiring than flying long-haul next to someone with suspected ebola. More tiring than a furby that needs its batteries replacing, bleating away in an airing cupboard from 1998. So sleep has finally overtaken alcohol in your list of priorities. And maybe some intravenous mince pies.

19 Home is everything. There is nothing more comforting than that vast expanse of countryside under the moon, with the lights of Bournemouth glinting in the distance, sending across the starlit sky the comforting knowledge that someone is getting their genitals touched in a seaside club before midnight mass.

20 People giving you joint presents with your boyfriend now happens. Solution: he never has to know.

21 Boxing Day marathon runs are now a thing, widely bragged about on social media, and more hate-inducing than Trump’s Twitter account.

22 Christmas songs are now extremely emotional. If there’s one thing us twenty-somethings love to dwell on it’s all the nostalgia from better times so excuse us while we comfort eat Terry’s chocolate oranges to Shakin’ Stevens.

23 Work is fun. Work is FUN. Whether it’s Friday Christmas playlists, a constant influx of mince pies, or, if you’re me, organising the staff panto, work is 100% on your side. People you don’t know send you seasons greetings (hold me?), cheese arrives in the post, and when we’re not hungover we are smiling and laughing and wondering if we can get away with making snowflake chains in meetings. More of that please.

24 Secret Santa is always harder than you think it will be. Especially if – like me – you can’t make anything homemade because you still feel uncomfortable around adult scissors.

25 Board games are everything you need in life. Scrabble makes you clever, Cluedo gives you a reckless air and Monopoly doesn’t care if you’re still in your overdraft and just lets you buy a house.

26 Let’s face it, you’re still secretly hoping for a yoyo, diablo, Baby Born, tamagotchi AND Pokemon Red on Gameboy. But obviously you’ll make do with a non-stick frying pan and a candle (thanks mum).

Merry Christmas and an extremely happy new year. X

friends, Home, Humour, Lifestyle

Long-distance friendships and coming home.

A tortoise right now, in all its hibernating glory, is probably still aware deep in its cosy coma that there is a tonne of Christmas hype going on right now. There are more fairy lights than there are school children, cinnamon is the smell of the day, and fake snow is lining the streets of London everywhere you look (except Islington because the road is flooded).

It’s impossible to deny that joy and laughter and mincemeat are everywhere and deep inside my stomach are butterflies, and anticipation, and excitement. But Christmas isn’t the reason why.

It’s because not just one, but two, of my best friends in the entire world are COMING HOME.

When you grow up binge-watching FRIENDS you are fooled into believing you will start living a life full of giant coffee cups and dream apartments and best friends who live next door. I’ve written about this reality check before, HERE, when it dawned on me aged 25 that life is less about skiving work to drink coffee with your mates and more about having no money and getting your hair caught in a toaster. In that blog I mentioned that I have friends who live abroad, who I don’t get to see very often, but who feel like they’re right here with me all the time anyway.

Now I’m sorry if this blog is totes emosh. It’s the first day of my period and as a consequence my hormones are seriously limiting my ability to behave and feel like a strong, independent woman. Instead I’m thinking a lot about baby penguins, trying to cuddle my stapler, and I’m one stifled sob away from asking a stranger to stroke me to sleep.

I’ve had a bit of a tough month or two recently. Anxiety has crept back into my life because losing someone close has tipped the rationale scale, upped the dread, filtered in the sadness all over again. Grief is also super tricky to navigate a) because it feels so unfair and b) because real life is still a thing and c) my appetite is broken and I’ve temporarily gone off croissants. But every cloud has a silver lining, they say, and if this cloud can even possibly glimmer it’s because I’ve discovered the people who matter most.

Two of which are my best friends, who may or may not read this because I won’t ram it down their throats when they’re trying to drink as much decent tea as possible again before leaving the country.

I feel very lucky to have a circle of friends who truly care. And so much of getting through everything has been down to my friends propping me up. My friends at work, who took me for tea on the day it all happened, or sent me pictures of baby seals on email. My best friends IN the country, who sent me flowers and cards and messages to brighten my day.

And my best friends, who live miles and miles and miles away, but still found the time to talk it through. The only reason I’m not saying your names is because, unlike me, you guys both have a sense of privacy online. But you know who you are. And you are everything.

Long-distance friendships might not be as demanding as with a relationship, or your family, or even your dog (mine is super needy on Skype) but they aren’t simple. There are time zones and social lives and all the more important people who need attention to consider. But there are also houses abroad where you can stay – hello holiday. And just because someone lives abroad doesn’t mean the fun has to end.

Girls nights in are replaced with comparing old bras on skype, girls nights out are replaced with drunk Facetime. It’s still possible to watch Orange is the New Black in sync, or get ready together. One of my favourite things about my friend living in Australia is the simple comfort that they have already experienced Monday and got through it.

About six weeks ago my friend who lives in France messaged me to say she’d bought me a present but I’d have to wait for a long time because she ordered it in French and didn’t realise it was coming from China. Six weeks later, my present arrived, and on opening it we discovered it was one of those epic mermaid tail blankets. The ones you can fit your entire body in while you’re watching Pretty Woman.

Unfortunately, and this is the reason she’s one of my favourite human beings in the world, she ordered it for a baby. It’s the size of probably one of my longest socks, and I could maybe wear it as a knitted fishtail tie if I wanted to. Nothing in the last six weeks has made me laugh so hard, and as she apologised for not being around in person to give me a hug, it clicked.

Friends don’t have to be in the same place as you to matter the most. You don’t have to see them in person to know they care. You don’t have to hang out every weekend to have the most fun. They can always make you laugh the most. I treasure my long-distance friendships, not only because they bring me treats home, but because they are worth so much. Time is precious, lives are short, and these people count.

So I’m excited for Christmas for the food, and the carols, and family walks in the countryside, but most of all I’m excited to hug my girls. To eat cake, and drink tea, and be a cliche. To laugh until we cry, complain about our clothes and hair and faces, doubt ourselves and love ourselves, stay up all night and get high on ice cream.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Christmas – with lots of hugs with the people you love most, and immense food babies too.