Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Winter Reading List

You know it's Christmas when you have time to get stuck into a good book. To toss the to-do list, camp out on the sofa with a cup of tea and a battered copy of your favourite old novel. Christmas is the time to re-read Little Women, Harry Potter, Bridget Jones' Diary? To get a little lost in your favourite fictional world. I've compiled a short list of some of my literary recommendations for this festive season. Get a cuppa and get stuck into this. 

I Love Dick - Chris Kraus

This book is something else. The novel is a semi-autobiographical, semi-fictitious account of Kraus’ actual marriage to Sylvere Lotringer and her subsequent semi-fictitious, semi-autobiographical relationship with Dick. The novel comprises a series of letters, phone calls, emails to Dick (Richard, don’t get too excited). Kraus’ novel is Butler-esque in its unashamed brand of feminism. The protagonist’s infatuation with her lover completely overrides the redundant passions within her own marriage. However, most crucially throughout the course of the novel, and her correspondence with Dick, Kraus comes to realise that her worth ought not to be equated to her relationships with either of these men. I adore this novel. It was first published in 1997, but has acquired cult status in recent years. Think Girls, think Fleabag, think Simone de Beauvoir. Read it. 

This is something a little different. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is a collection of short stories, published in 1981. Some of the stories were initially published in magazines/as part of serials. I love the short-story genre as it is immediately gratifying. Carver is master of this style. My favourite piece within the collection is the first one, ‘Why Don’t you Dance?’. These stories are more than their page numbers. You’ll be left chewing on these plots a long time after the book is closed, which is all we can really ask of fiction. This would be a lovely Christmas gift. 

This Modern Love is another collection. Youtuber Will Darbyshire produced the book earlier this year. It’s a compilation of love letters, heartbroken rants, pleas for forgiveness, FU’s. It’s basically a patchwork of relationship ramblings that we can all relate to in some way or another; and it’s brilliant. There is a page for each of us. The book is beautifully put together and features submissions from teenagers and grandparents alike. It’s proof that love exists and that we are not alone. It’s a book I will consult after first dates, breakups, fights for a long time to come. 

Becoming, by Laura Jane Williams (Superlatively Rude) is a book that I read in stages. I have consumed Laura’s blog for a year or so now. I now read her Grazia column like gospel, listen to her podcasts… I’m hooked. Her mantra resonates with me on a near spiritual level: “BECAUSE NONE OF US IS FUCKING UP LIKE WE THINK WE ARE, IS WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY”. I didn’t gorge on Becoming in quite the same way. I read it chapter by chapter, with breaks in between. Partially, due to university assignments taking over my life and, of course, partially because I wanted to savour each detail. Laura writes about love, lost hope, messy relationships, how it’s okay not to know what you’re doing so long as you know who you are. It’s a book I hereby prescribe to every 20 something feeling lost. Put it on your Christmas list. 

The Marriage Plot - Jeffery Eugenides 

Last up is a book I picked up because i’m an idiot. I’m writing my dissertation on the evolution of the Marriage Plot, from Victorian tradition to sci-fi future, I want to understand the effectual breakdown of this tired and restrictive tradition. So I googled ‘The Marriage Plot’ and blindly purchased this book. Totally useless for my degree, but by happy coincidence, I bloody love it. Written by the author of Middle Sex and The Virgin Suicides (of Kirsten Dunst cinematic fame) the book follows Madeline Hanna as she cobbles together her undergrad thesis. The book tackles issues of love, breakdowns, spirituality, the pursuit of happiness. It’s an uncomfortable read, in parts, but it’s a torture of the sweetest sort. I’ll be reading it again. 

Peace out, pals. 


Monday, 12 December 2016

Festive Favourites Haul

12.12.16. Assignments are in, the tree is up, mince pies are out and I'm so ready for this festive season to begin. 2016, you have tested us all. Here's hoping the world gets a break this Christmas. I don't usually think much of the 25th of December. It always seems like more hassle than it's worth. Tensions are usually high and there's inevitably far too much sherry on the go. But this time, things are a little different. It's been a year of uncertainty, change and downright madness so I plan to savour each minute of this Christmas. To enjoy every moment (mince pie) of these festive traditions that keep us grounded and remind us what's really important. Taking stock, of our lives and of eachother. 

That in mind, this post seems a little trivial. But, if you're anything like me the past few months have been hazy. Full of deadlines, full of chaos and not a lot of self-care. Winter is a cruel love. She makes us sick, she is cold but she is worth it. I've picked up a few festive favourites to help relax into the season. These gorgeous pick-me-ups are treats that would also make thoughtful gifts; Santa loves a bath bomb, after all.

I picked up a few bits from LUSH and The Body Shop. First up, a couple of LUSH's Christmas collection bath bits, because nothing says winter warmer like a relaxing soak in the tub. Today I nabbed a 'Magic of Christmas' wand and the adorable 'Snow Angel' bath melt. These products look and smell delicious. They are glittery, gorgeous and cruelty-free!

While I was in LUSH I picked up an old favourite, one of their fresh face masks in 'Brazened Honey'. This detoxifying mask is perfect for winter skin. It contains warming ginger and zesty lime juice to really brighten up the face, combat any blemishes and unclog pores. Alongside these skincare bits, I treated myself to something glam for upcoming Christmas parties. A golden creme eye shadow. Because look at that pigment! Will follow up with a festive makeup look so you can see how it looks on (I'm so excited!)

What else... The Body Shop. The Body Shop have a whole range of festive favourites in store. Their main ranges being, 'Frosted Berries', 'Spiced Apple' and this, the 'Vanilla Chai'. For me, both the berries and apples reminded me of naff alco-pops. Their scent is a little (lot) over-bearing and I imagine taking a bath in them might feel more like drowning in Apple Sourz than treating yourself to some needed relaxation. I mean, if I'm going to smell of booze, I may as well have had the night out.

It's not all bad though because I'm in love with this Chai range. These products are gorgeous. A to-die-for blend of warming indulgence and festive-ness; smells like a Starbucks, without the calories. I picked this scent up in both the sugar body scrub and butter, products I already know and love, in a flavour I can't wait to try.

That's all folks.


Thursday, 8 December 2016

Growing Pains | Twenty One and Clueless

I’ve been a real adult twenty-one year old for just under four months now and nothing has changed. I’m yet to detect any wrinkles, grey hairs or anything at all to really to signify this oh-so-significant coming of age. In short, I'm completely unimpressed. My transition to supposed 'adulthood' has been altogether uninspiring. There has been no ethereal transformation, no magic ‘this is it’ moment, I am still very much myself. My Dr Martens are yet to transform into LouBoutins and my un-ironic knitwear collection is yet to shape-shift into the sharp Devil Wears Prada-esque attire one would associate with a twenty-something doing it ‘right'. Have I missed something? I’m still me… Is that okay? Yes. 
What I have come to realise, at the grand old age of 21 is that it’s okay to be a little clueless. If i’ve learnt anything from Girls, Fleabag, Linda Goodman's Sun Signs, it’s that most of us are just muddling through, and sometimes the muddle is half the fun. Thus, I have a compiled a completely uncomprehensive list of things that it really is alright not to have figured out by the time you reach this (not so) momentous age.
1. It is totally okay for you not to know what you’re doing with your life. This is the big one. Something happens, not to you, but to everyone around you, just after you’ve blown out those candles and polished off that last slice of Colin the Caterpillar cake. People expect you to have it all figured out. Overnight you are obligated to have some sort of epiphany about your future, the stars are meant to align and you’re supposed to have a grasp of the dreaded 5 year plan. You’re meant to understand what you want to do with that degree you’ve been studying for (or at least very least have an idea of how to start your dissertation), you’re meant to apply for a credit card (and not be rejected - again), you’re meant to have a glowing GPA and a stand out CV and you’re meant to bloody understand how Linkden works. You’re meant to be a philanthropist and be on a committee for a charity, or have a by-line in the times, and have a grasp of exactly how bills work and tax and bloody Spotify subscriptions. But, you don’t, and no one does, and that’s okay. That’s what wine is for.
2. It’s okay to wish you were a little less you and a little more someone else. This is one you’re not meant to agree with. You’re meant to achieve total empowerment in your twenties. You should, by now, have learned to love all your wobbly bits and have acquired some sort of inner peace with the you-that you are, and all the things you are not and will never be. That being said, i’m going to say it is also okay not to feel that way. You are allowed to lust after a little of what someone else has; to appreciate what other people have got and be unafraid to say you want a slice of it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself or taking inspiration from someone you admire to do that. Role models aren’t always unhealthy. You can learn a lot from other people’s confidence, how they have learned to love their wobbly bits, their not-so perfect somethings, so long as you also do a little of appreciating your own.

3. It’s okay to have no concept of how long is too long to go without putting a wash on. This is self explanatory, but seriously, does anyone know how long is too long? No. Don’t worry about it. It’s also okay that it still takes you half an hour to change your bed sheets and that you often find yourself stuck in the duvet cover. It’s not as easy as your mum always made it look…
4. It is never just you.I promise, someone else feels the same. Someone else will feel it tomorrow, next week. It will pass.
5. It’s alright to admit that you’re lonely. This is a big one. Even when you’re surrounded by friends, family, deadlines, things to do, it’s okay for you to feel a little on your own. Chances are someone you think has it all figured out is sitting at home feeling exactly the same. Ps, ferociously swiping on Tinder will not fill this void. Pals and ice-cream, however, will help.
6. It’s not a weakness to ask for help. Whether it’s asking your tutor what the bloody hell an annotated bibliography is, admitting that you’re lost and Google Maps is actually not your friend or asking your flatmate how to defrost a month old Lasagne your mum made for  you: just ask. You’ll save a lot of time and you might learn something. it’s not a weakness to admit you don’t have a clue.
7. It is completely acceptable for you to admit that you actually, un-ironically, enjoyed every moment of watching Jane the Virgin. It’s amazing, it’s got five stars on Netflix for a reason, trust me.
8. It’s also okay for you to (again completely un-ironically) confess that you read your horoscope every week like it’s gospel. It’s okay to have faith in your sun-sign, but please, do not do what I have done and lock yourself indoors all day because “it’s looking like Leo may run into an ex-boyfriend in Sainsbury’s sometime between the hours of 12 and 4pm on Monday the 15th of May”. That’s actually insane. Also, don’t complain to Cosmopolitan when they get your weekly predictions wrong; they don’t respond well and they will block you from theirTwitter account, rude.
9. It’s okay to feel hurt. 
10. It’s okay that you don’t always love your life. Because no-one ever does. Just savour the moments that you do: there will always be more.
11. It’s okay to admit that the last book you genuinely enjoyed reading was part of the Harry Potter franchise. Because, let’s face it - nothing could be better.
12. It’s okay for you to still feel that the only music that truly speaks to your soul is an angsty old Kate Nash album. Foundations, amirite?
13. Regretfully, it is also okay to admit that you’ve already booked tickets to see her live next again next month. (I’m lying, this is completely unacceptable, but you’ve paid for it now so you’d better go)
14. It’s okay to call your friends out when they’re being shitty. We’ve all done it and sometimes we all just need to hear it. Plus, if they’re a real pal they will already know and you’ll get through it.
15. It’s okay for them to call you out too. Because, the same thing applies to you.
16. You are allowed to eat the pizza. Dominos is your friend, that’s why they text you so often.
17. You are not allowed to punish yourself for eating the pizza. Have a salad tomorrow.
18. It’s okay that you have no concept of how LinkedIn actually works. I mean, seriously? What’s the point in even having one when they only thing on your CV is a part time job in Cath Kidston? ALSO people can see when you’ve viewed your profile so STOP showing everyone your ex boyfriend’s profile. Yes it’s hilarious, but everyone will know you’re being a crazy ex and (let's face it) that’s a reality you’d rather keep under wraps.
19. It’s okay to say you don’t like that TV show that everyone else is obsessed with *cough* Drag Race. Just because it’s trending doesn’t mean you have to love it, and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to memorise the tag-lines just to feel relevant… Sashay away, indeed.
20. It’s okay to say you LOVE something that has never and will never be cool. Embrace it, it will be ironic/cool/inspired/trendy again in a couple of years and you’ll be in on the joke.
21. It’s okay to trip over, just, for goodness sake, pick yourself back up again. 
Thanks for reading.


The Art of Giving a Fuck

People often write about the life-changing magic of not giving a fuck. We’re meant to salute this band of nae-carers, to commend them for their ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude. Buy into the propaganda, re-blog, re-pin, re-affirm. Try not to give a fuck ourselves (or at least, to appear not to) all the while, of course, giving more hypothetical ‘fucks’ than ever. I want to talk about the lost art of giving a fuck.
This is not the type of slogan you’re going to see splurged across social media. It’s not going to be printed on journals, badges, tote bags and t-shirts. It won't sell because, I suppose, it’s always going to be cooler not to care; to appear unaffected by the politics of muddling through.
There are hundreds of things that I categorically do not give a fuck about. A vague shortlist is as follows: whoever went out in last week's X Factor, Midsummer Murders, Gala Bingo, The Real Housewives of Potomac (where even is Potomac?), Kylie Jenner’s lipstick range, dog clothing, shoelaces, Susan Boyle’s pop career, the Vegan crusade. There is, however, a much longer, much more sobering, list of things that I will always care about. Unashamedly, unapologetically...
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Firstly, I'd like to clarify that I do understand claiming not to give a fuck is more complicated than simply not caring. I suppose this declaration is more an affirmation that you are, in some way, unaffected by the 'ag' associated with emotional investment. A statement of armour against the various trivialities of everyday interactions. And, I get it. I can’t count how many times I've tried to convince myself that I ought to be unaffected by other people’s opinions, by their words, their criticism. It’s easier said than done, and sometimes, yes, we do need to reject the negativity poised against us.
But, here’s my two cents. We are human beings, warm-blooded and hard wired to give a shit. It’s not something we should be ashamed of. People say there is an art to not giving a fuck. I disagree. Not giving a fuck is, actually no art-form. It doesn’t warrant a pat on the back, a high-five. Because to simply say you do not care is to miss the point. There is a difference between being indifferent and being okay with being different.
Give all the fucks, put your all into achieving the things you want to achieve. Invest your love and time in the people who matter most and use any negativity you encounter to propel your own success. After all, the best fuck you is being happy.
This is something i’m slowly learning myself…There will always be someone in the front row waiting to see you fall. Things won’t always be perfect (very rarely, actually) and sometimes shit actually just happens, but only you have the power to let that define your experience. To say you don’t give a fuck is to detract from your own strength.
It’s okay to care what people think. To want someone to see what you’ve got to offer, to share what you’ve got to give. It’s also okay to accept when you’re getting nowhere and re-adjust. To give a little more time to the people and the things that make you feel invincible and a little less attention to the opinions you cannot change. Give a fuck, if you can. Give a fuck until you have no more fucks to give because you are happy or because you have given it your best shot and realise you deserve better.
Be the person who cares too much. It’s not a weakness and it could be your biggest strength. It’ll be the reason people can’t stand you and the reason people love you. But you’ll never succeed if you don’t want to. If you don’t give a fuck.
All the love.

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