When Life Gives You Lemons…. Throw a Pie and/or Pee on Someone’s Floor

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So I moved. New flat, stabby area. It’s nice. My niece doesn’t wake me up by standing outside the door shouting ‘knock knock’ instead of just knocking at seven in the morning.

We had to borrow the deposit from my parents. It came out of the wedding fund. Which reminds me, if you are invited to the nuptials, would you mind bringing a packed lunch? Thanks.

But that means I have no excuses. Here, in the Anaglypta-and-Artex-covered flat (screw you spell check, they are bloody words), which, incidentally is owned by Damian Lewis’s father-in-law, the only thing getting in the way of me and my writing is, well, me.

(A side note on the Damian Lewis thing. I met my landlord for like half an hour. He managed to slip it into conversation though. Fair play.)

I started with the best of intentions. After wandering from room to room as though something interesting may have happened since the last time I was in there, then sitting for a while on the kitchen counter while drinking lemon squash and wondering if that counted as getting a new perspective, I got out the novel that I started during my MA.

I read it. I read all the comments from my old tutors and my super-brainy classmates, then realised that I’d thrown at least 10,000 words of it away.

Those comments though – they got me thinking about where all those uber-talented peers of mine had got to and how well they were doing. Turns out, most of them are doing brilliantly. Naturally I had to hide them all instantly from my news feed to prevent me from throwing my laptop out the window. All of this (finally) led me to the topic of today’s post – jealousy.

Gasp. It’s a touchy subject. No one wants to admit to it, but I don’t think it’s completely audacious to say that it’s something we all feel from time to time (uhum, every frigging day). So screw it. We all experience it. I’m just going to admit it and talk about it for a moment or two.

Social media has turned us all into painstaking curators of our own lives, flaunting the good whilst neglecting to share the bad so that it constantly looks like we’re all having THE best time with THE best people in THE best places in the world.

(Unless, of course, you decide to blog about the bad, in which case you probably have an ulterior motive. Would somebody reading this please give me a job?)

So, if you’re having a bit of a crappy time and decide to peruse Facebook for more than a second then it’s only natural you’re going to start feeling a tad envious of all the intelligent/stylish/ successful/young people (with lovely, springy eyelid skin) parading themselves for the world to see on your social media platform of choice. What’s worse, with Timehop, it’s now even possible to be jealous of your former self. What the fuck!?

It kinda makes me feel like this…

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Not that I’m going to pee on your floor. Just sometimes I kinda feel like. 

Anyway, back to jealousy. What should I do about it? I’m not going to delete my Facebook. I’m not going to spend less time every day pouring over my social feeds (although God knows I should). What I am going to do is to try and make a conscious decision not to wallow in it like it’s a two-day hangover. Hell, I’m going to embrace it.

Instead of seeing jealousy as something negative, I’m going to use it like a bloody big red flag that will help me to see what’s actually important.

The way I see it, if you’re jealous of something, be it someone else’s successful career, their international hijinks, their capacity to stay out past two in the morning or their bouncy frigging hair, then you should take a second and acknowledge the fact, and that at least this means you actually want something.  You should separate the ‘achievable’ from the ‘not on your nelly, love’ and go after the former with your big-ass sword swinging just like Brienne of Tarth.

In my case, it means I’ve not been totally trampled into accepting my lot. It means that not so deep down I really do want to keep trying and get the job I thought I’d already have by now. I’ve got a better bloody chance at that than I do of my eyelids regaining their former elasticity.

So, even though this week my sister, mother and niece are hanging out in Madrid at the swanky pad of a certain well known football player whilst I borrow £2 off my brother so I can afford to go to fat club, I’m going to take that cheeky little slither of envy and use it to fuel my success quest.

Must dash, I have a job interview to go to. Unfortunately I ran out of mascara and can’t afford a new one, so I’m going to have to go without.

On the plus side however, if I don’t get this job, at least I can blame it on my eyelashes…

This One Time, At Band Camp (and how that makes me seriously friggin’ past it)

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This week I thought it would be a great idea to write my blog post into the notes on my phone when I was half asleep. It wasn’t.

Some choice gems that seemed particularly inspired at 3am (yes, still from the single bed at my sister’s) were:

  1. A rant about helping kids from underprivileged backgrounds aim higher.
  2. A reminder to tell you all about ‘that one time I got locked in Cardiff Castle, had to be escorted out by the Po Po, and then decided to tell a room full of people at a Weakest Link audition the day after all about it’.
  3. Some spiel about how Dexter should have died in season 4.

Although I’m sure you all would be fascinated to read about any of the above topics, and maybe when I’m really scraping the barrel for ideas I’ll regale you, what occurred to me when I was reading over my sleep-deprived ramblings was that this all could get a little ‘this one time, at Band Camp…’

Shit, even using that quote kinda dates me. I’m in the no-man’s land of my late twenties, a place where my cultural references are not quite old or cool enough to have gained cult status, but I’m certainly not a shit-hot graduate with a thousand followers on Twitter.

I’m pretty sure American Pie isn’t old enough to be retro, is it? So that means Road Trip isn’t either, and there’s scores of freshers out there finger popping each other’s ass holes who don’t know who Tom Green is or where he put his bum.  Oh, for shame.

So is that OK? Writing about that kind of shit? I mean, if I want to be taken seriously as a writer, maybe I should be writing something a bit more important? But then again, who’s to say what’s important?

I went through Uni looking back on my teenage years and thinking, shit, where was all the culture? I was gutted that my parents weren’t Guardian-reading, smoked-chipotle-frittata-eating liberals with degrees and fancy-pants jobs, and that they didn’t push me to do anything in particular with my book smarts. I still pretty much shit myself if a Made in Chelsea-alike so much as looks at me.

Despite lacking the folks mentioned above, I got stick for being too posh in high school. In year 7, because I talked ‘properly’ and wore my tie the right way around a friend (who shall remain nameless) declared in front of a large-ish audience that I bought my loo roll from House of Fraser.

Back then, I wanted a perm, a track suit, a sovereign ring and a pack of ten Lambert and Butler to smoke on the back of the 52. By the time I got to 6th form, however, I realised that I was as common as a see-through pair of leggings barely hiding a hungry, less-than-shapely arse in the queue at Primark.

(Yesssssssss….. that’s another 17 minute Google Vortex! Seriously, type ‘fat arse, see through leggings’ into Google. There’s a whole Twitter account devoted to Leggings Fails!)

Oh the irony.

I think it says a lot about the country at the moment, about wealth inequality, non-existent aspirations, and the near impossibility of a classless society. In the school I was working at before I decided to pack it all in, sell everything I owned and piss off to see (a teeny tiny part of) the world, I met a kid who had never left Cardiff and thought you were in France if you crossed the Severn Bridge. Who’s fault’s that? Certainly not his.

I’m not saying that I’m like this kid. Clearly I had a lot of opportunities that he might never have thanks to the parents that I’ve painted such a vivid picture of so far. (What’s that? You haven’t heard much about my mum yet? Ha ha! All in good time…) What I’m saying is that we should value the experiences of these kids as much as we value those of kids born into a life of privilege and instilled with a sense of, to quote Debra Morgan, a metric fuck tonne of entitlement.

I shouldn’t have quoted Dexter. They don’t deserve it. Not after that last series. Shoulda canned it after Trinity, guys.

What I’ve come to realise is that maybe it doesn’t matter that I didn’t read a Dickens book until I was 23, and perhaps I should embrace the fact that my soundtrack to high school was most probably Born to Do It.

I’ve got my own influences, my warped sense of humour/intense cynicism was not spawn in a vacuum, and if I think it’s worthwhile dissecting my hapless twenties on a public platform then maybe someone else will, too.

Anyway, back to those hapless twenties. Pearls of wisdom that I’ve received this week, relating to my progress in getting on and making something of my life, include:

‘Have you ever thought that maybe your workspace should be a bit less… bed?’  Attributed to my sister – she’s just jealous I make money in my jamas without being a hooker.

‘Didn’t someone get stabbed there last week?’ Brother’s new lady friend – on the flat that I’m finally moving into.

And, last but not least…

‘…………………………………………………………………………………………………….’ That’s grave-like silence, from every single job I’ve applied for.

My response to these? Well, I’ll borrow it from my niece’s favourite toy, a dancing Pooh Bear that sings about being a little chubby.

‘Oh bother.’

Hey wait, looks like I did get in all those topics from my midnight ramblings. Just not the Weakest Link audition. Oh well, guess I’ll just save that one for next time…

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On Blogging vs Box Set Binging

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Bloody hell. That escalated quickly.

It flew from my fingers and out into the world to become breakfast, bog or bus reading material before I had half a second to think whether or not it was a good idea to say ‘fuck’ in a post that quite likely, my dad was going to read. He’d refer to it as an ‘F bomb’, you see, and you’re not supposed to drop them in the family home.

But read it he did, and then, bless his heart, he shared it. He didn’t mention the F bomb. He didn’t even raise his eyebrows at ‘in uni, I was the one who always writes about sex’.

And it wasn’t just my dad I forgot to worry about. The fiancé. Post-blog he’s concerned about the James May fetish. He wants to know exactly how much of our dirty laundry is going to be pegged out in public (only the good stuff).

I joke. He’s been great. He’s still stuck in New Zealand though. Maybe we will have to sell the ring to get him home.

Anyway, I definitely should have thought this through. You see, the thing is, if I’m writing about not writing, I suppose I’m writing about what I’ve been doing for all of these years instead of writing, and that’s quite a lot. Carpet F bombing, soiled sheets and all. And I think I’ll say writing once more in that paragraph, just for good measure. Writing.

So should I have kept it anonymous? Gone all ‘Belle de Jour?’ I mean, regardless of upsetting the nearest and dearest, I might end up a teacher one day, and you’re not supposed to put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t be comfortable having tattooed on your face, are you?

Oh well. Too late.

So I’m going to see how it goes. Take it slowly, drop the odd profanity, ease in an uncomfortable anecdote, then mention an illegal substance or two about three or four months in, when the novelty’s worn off they’re both bored of reading it.

That’s the thing though. What if they don’t get bored? What if no one gets bored? What if this actually goes well and people actually read my writing? Basically, I’m about 11 and a half thousand times more self-aware writing this post than I was spouting rubbish to no one in particular on WordPress at seven in the morning.

It’s horrible. Kind of like that slick-palmed ‘I’ve just sent an incriminating text to the wrong person and now I’m watching those bloody ellipsis dots flashing while they write me a reply that’s going to make my bum twitch’ feeling. Only this time, it’s not a text. It’s a friggin’ essay. And I did it on purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that people read it. It’s been nice. Friends sort of asking about it, helpful advice proffered, etc.

‘Why don’t you write about fashion?’ said my sister.

Ha! My go-to look is lumberjack chic.

‘Current affairs?’ said the brother-in-law.

Um, sure. That could work. As long as he means ‘current affairs from the perspective of an ill-informed layabout who gets most of her news from Twitter’.

But that’s the thing. Even with something to write about, now that I’ve declared war on procrastination, it’s worse than ever. You see, they have Netflix.

It’s freaking awesome. I’m a box set glutton. If box sets were spaghetti I’d be the fat guy from the beginning of Seven face down in a bowl of them. And I’d have died happy.

Orange is the New Black. I love it! And if Obama can find time to watch it then I for one certainly can (see, I told you I get my news from Twitter). Plus, it features Jim from American Pie as a self-indulgent, lazy writer who wants to write about questionable sexual practices.

Sherlock. I’m going to say it, even risking the wrath of all those feisty Cumberbatches in the world, it’s crap. And I persevered, I really did. I wasted hours trying to get into the ridiculous cheese fest. It was better than writing about whatever I was supposed to this week (the tyre piece was reasonably well received, thank you for asking).

Luther. Good Lord, even worse. Who’s that duck-faced Alice bird? Idris, get back to Baltimore where you belong, you’re better than this!

Happy Valley. Not a Netflix one this, but iPlayer. Thank God for Sarah Lancashire. She’s badass, and she knows good grammar. It’s fantastic. It restores my faith in British drama. It makes me want to write (kudos, Sally Wainwright).

So the guilt sets in, the screen darkens for a second and I notice my reflection in the giant flat screen TV; unwashed, pyjama wearing, and, if I’m completely honest, eating my niece’s last Petit Filous while she’s in nursery.

That’s a new low. Even for me. So I peel myself off the sofa (after the episode’s finished, I don’t feel that guilty) and climb the stairs to my little cubby hole to get cracking. After I’ve had a shower. And come to think of it, my eyebrows could do with a pluck. And if I’m serious about this writing thing then maybe I should clean my room, you know, so I can concentrate…

Uh oh. Siobhan, you were going to write a BAFTA winning BBC crime drama.

This might take a while. Sarah Lancashire

Positive Procrastination Strikes Again

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I do not love to write. My urge to do so is somewhat more akin to discovering a not-quite-ripe spot somewhere inconvenient to squeeze, you know, like on the really fleshy part of your cheek where it’s nigh on impossible to get a really good grip on the bastard. Any attempts to do so will leave you with a face pitted with angry crescent nail gouges, and eyes watering like you’ve been ‘cooking a lasagne… for one.’

My failure to burst said spot leaves me with a sense of general malaise and dissatisfaction at being thwarted by what is no more than a teeny tiny physical symptom of all of the bile I’ve been storing up for the last 27 years come to a head in a none too pretty, ever so nearly pussy (read pus-y, I just had to Google that and was very nearly sucked into a vortex of ‘Must See! Abscess, Pus, Painfully Disgusting!’ videos on YouTube that would have demanded at least 17 undivided minutes of my attention) enough, viciously pulsating boil that I’m quite sure I can see from the corner of my eye (if I close the other one and scrunch up my face just so).

No? Just me then?

After the aforementioned 27 years of mediocre short stories (in uni I was ‘the one that always writes about sex’), abandoned novels, WordPress blogs created then left unfulfilled in the back of the wardrobe like that adventurous dress you just had to buy and will definitely wear sometime, like, you know, when you actually go clubbing again like you used to when you were 21, I’ve decided that the only thing I have the absolute authority on writing about is, well, not writing.

This genius bolt of lightning struck me (cliché, abandon immediately in favour of something more witty) wait, wait, wait, well, to  stay with the bodily urge images that I’ve so vividly created for you so far, I’ll say ‘this idea struck me like a spine tingling, sweaty-thighed compulsion to pee upon waking from a saucy dream involving a James May-alike’, at 5am, after five hours fitful ‘sleep’ during which I avoided the writing that I’m actually supposed to be doing on the scintillating subject of… tyres. Hang on, at least that explains the James May dream, although I’d be lying if I said it was my first.

I suppose I should give you a bit of context here. Right now I’m sat up in a single bed, in the box room where I currently reside rent-free courtesy of my sister and her super successful husband, both who endure my hopelessness with wry bemusement and a sense of ‘well, at least we’ve got a free babysitter again.’ My sister is younger than me, by some three years, and is more together than anyone I know, but does occasionally like to remind me that my uterus is pruning by the day, and I only have so many fruitful years left to furnish my niece with the cousin she so desperately deserves before I’ll be forced to ‘do an Angelina.’

Anyway, I live here because I have no real job, no money, and slim to no prospects. A month ago I left my fiancé on the other side of the world some six weeks after he proposed to me because I was homesick and the only job I could get was on a cheese counter where I would have had to wear a hat, and sell cheese to people I despised only marginally less than Michael Gove, Liz Jones of Daily Mail fame, John Malkovich and Kevin Bacon (the last two are unfair, I only dislike them because I’m terrified of various characters they’ve played in their esteemed acting careers).

It’s OK, we’re still engaged. I think.

I was very nearly offered a proper job in New Zealand, in advertising, being mentored by a bigwig to come up with catchy campaigns to sell probiotic yoghurt or to people with nothing better to spend their money on, but I pulled out at the last minute because I didn’t ‘see myself’ as a big balls career bitch (which is obviously where that would have led… or so I became convinced).

That isn’t the first grown-up job I’ve run away from. It’s the, um, third. But more on those later.

Ah yes, the tyres thing. I do work. I’m a freelance writer of sorts, but this freelance gig means goes as far as writing exclusively for an online marketing agency on topics ranging from photocopiers to ‘fall-themed wedding favors’. Sometimes I even blog as a soccer mom for them, encouraging my peers to attend exciting tourist destinations I’ve never laid eyes on.

So that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And it’s the last thing on earth I want to do. Maya Angelou died yesterday. She said, ‘Nothing will work unless you do.’ So I’m doing this. I want to do this. I woke up, I followed Caitlin Moran and Dawn O’Porter on Twitter. I embraced my inner Lena Dunham and thought, fuck it. Part confessional, part ridiculously premature memoir, here’s my car crash experience of being ‘the girl most likely to become Prime Minister, Corpus Christi High School, 2003,’ who wound up a self-pitying, lazy-arsed mess, who didn’t take her makeup off last night and now has another one of those not-quite-ripe spots that just begs to be fiddled with.

It’s time to squeeze that zit.

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