The Freedom of Being a D*ck

I’m a little behind this week as I recover from the seasonal sniffle that seems to be making the rounds rather aggressively. Whilst I am usually quite cocky about my immune system (which considering how lazy, unhealthy and prone to complaining I am, is surprisingly strong), I was struck down when I least expected it. The culprit? My small yet totes adorable niece, who proceeded to give me ALL of the snotty kisses last weekend whilst clambering over me in an attempt to keep a sensible baby eye on her mum at all opportunities, but I am loathed to hold her too accountable. She been struggling for longer than I have with this cold and has mostly been dealing with it with the stoic reserve of a solid little baby bundle.

I however, unlike Thea, have not dealt with it well. At all. In fact, I have lamented my fate loudly and with much sorrow, and even had a sick day last Wednesday so I could lie about in my stitch onesie with tissues shoved up my nose. So poorly was I that I was unable to blog, craft or do anything remotely useful and consequently I am terribly behind on all my life plans. WOE. However, I am now (mostly) recovered, though still marvelling at the amount of snot that one person can produce, and getting back on track.

SIDE NOTE – Saying that, TMM had to go to bed last night at 7pm because he was fevered and shaky, so whilst it seems I might be on the mend, poor Muffin might be looking down the barrel of the sickness cannon.

Fighting off the dreaded mucus monster was not the only blow that was delivered last week though. On the Thursday that I’d gone back to work (but definitely should not have done) – people even commented on how much of a minger I looked) I managed to lose the stone from my engagement ring.

Broken Ring

It’s like something from the Pink Panther only with less David Niven and more sadness.

After moaning my way through the say, sweating and snotting all over the place like some vile blob creature, I finally made it to home time and sloped off to the shop to pick up some essentials and wait for my ride. It was all fine until I was standing on the steps, keeping a weather eye out for Hans von Manschaft (VW extraordinaire) when I caught sight of my ring and realised glaringly that the opal that should have been set in place was missing. For a minute it was all I could do to stand outside Aldi with a bag full of chilli ingredient’s and the complete inability to do anything but stand and stare at the little empty gap. Then followed (in quick succession) intense panicked searching of my bag, my pockets, the surrounding floor area and the path I’d taken round Aldi. Once it was clear I wasn’t going to find anything (damn Aldi and their speckled linoleum floor choices) I trudged back to my post in the car park and hunkered down. TMM turned up not long after and before he’d even got a hello out, had to put up with me fluctuating between raucous nose blowing and pathetic whimpers (which he did very well). As he pointed out between gently patting my sweaty head and handing me tissues; it wasn’t something I’d done on purpose, it was unfixable, and at least we were now even (he’d caught his ring between a cabinet and wall at work and smashed it to pieces – though it did basically save him from an unexpected finger amputation).

I think I was actually most stunned about how affected I was and it’s hit me rather hard. I’ve always been attached to “things” (I love more by the Hoarder code than Buddhist teachings) and have been known to cry over the loss of the most stupid things, but sitting and staring the gap where the stone should be has made me realise quite how much I’d invested into this little ring. I’m not a huge romantic (you may have guessed, it’s not like I’ve said it a MILLION times), and I’m not really majorly fussed by marriage. It’s not that I’ve ever been strictly against it, but I didn’t spent countless hours as a little girl planning my dream day (I was far too busy planning my life as a famous author). Even now, it’s not the wedding that really bothers me. Don’t get me wrong, I will marry the absolute crap out of TMM, but the whole ritual of the thing has never appealed. Yet, realising I had damaged the one thing that was a physical representation really shook me up.

TMM has not allowed me to wallow in my sadness though. We’ve gone through the various stages of loss – Despair, Anger, Silkiness ((so much sulkiness) and he’s been very supportive the whole way through. We’ve already been on two day trips to various vintage barns and I’ve told him that if worst comes to the worst, I am willing to accept a full size brass diving helmet and a non-working gramophone as a replacement.

I just really think these would perfectly reflect our love. Also I want to see Bucky in the helmet SO BAD.

He’s also taken me to Primark this weekend for a new cardigan (and shirt…and makeup) and brought himself a SPECTACULAR corduroy jacket that just screams Brokeback Mountain. (He’s under strict instructions not to wear it with his corduroy trousers though, because I don’t think I can love a man who wears a full camel coloured corduroy suit). We also went for a lovely walk around our old stomping grounds at Keele on Sunday too. Now that TMM is a totes profesh photographer (like every good Action Man, he comes with his own removable attachments including: official camera bag with pockets, 2x tripods and cameras of varying sizes), we go out all over the place so he can practice his skills. He, very complimentary, wants to take lots of photos of me so he can trial everything out. I, very unhelpfully, am the worst model ever and cannot stand still for more than 2 minutes. To that end, most of the pictures he takes are accompanied by at least 3 others of me being an absolute tit.

Face 4

Strike a pose

It’s made me realise though that this could just be who I am as a person. At the ripe old age of 26, I now know who I am. I have come to the conclusion that I am never going to be one of those Instagram girls with perfect contouring, shiny hair and a fantastic cleavage. I mean, it’s not through lack of trying, but it’s just too hard. I would rather spend an extra ten minutes in bed that try to shape my eyebrows and I get panic sweats trying to order a McDonalds, nevermind travelling the globe in a tiny bikini and letting stranges goggle over my arse. However, I am able to pull a truly awful face at a moment’s notice and I can throw down some mad shapes like an epileptic llama. You want a girl that can gurn like a good’un? I’m the one for you. Need someone to do a little impromptu dance number in the middle of the forest whilst you set your gear yp? You’re looking at her? Want a Facebook montage full of perfectly edited yet ridiculously hideous faces that will make you laugh yourself silly? You know who to call.

Let’s face it, I’m never going to be able to keep it straight for that long, and why bother when I look so hilarious otherwise? As someone pointed out, there’s a certain safety in looking like a complete berk. The worse you look, the funnier the pictures are and you end up achieving the perfect “bad” picture without even having to try. This way, I can tick off “approval from others”, “all of the likes on social media” and “helping TMM with his hobby” in one fell swoop and I didn’t even have to put any effort in. It’s a pretty good life lesson for self confidence as well. It can be really hard sometimes to look in the mirror and deal with trying to make your face look presentable when all you feel like is a pile of poop. Your hair is a mess, your eyeliner is wonky and your complexion is blotchy like a 3 year olds painting and your self esteem plummets before you’ve even left the house. This way, you can go out there, pull a stupid face and post a photo whilst having a giggle and within minutes you’ve got people telling you it’s hilarious. The barrier or your self-confidence is well and truly broken because, let’s face it, you couldn’t look worse if you tried and if people like you when you look like that, they’re going to be happy with you no matter what.

A couple of classics

 

 

 

 

 

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All You Need is Love (and banter) …do be do be doo

Alternative Title for this week – “Heart Shaped Confessions of an Unromantic Weirdo”

So I actually found this week’s post surprisingly hard to write (though picking the photos was most definitely not). TMM features in most of my blogs in some form or another (to be honest, it would be hard for him not too seeing that’s he’s basically the main character in my life), but I’ve never really focused on him specifically. It’s weird, especially considering I find it (possibly too) easy to share things about myself that others might deem a bit too much information, but in writing this I felt like I was revealing something really private. I’m not sure if it was perhaps that I didn’t know if I would be able to do justice to him, or because selfishly, I didn’t want to share all the things I felt with anyone else.

Partly, I think it was probably because I am not the world’s biggest romantic – notions of overtly public displays of affection or dramatic declarations of desire are about as far from my ballpark as it is possible to get. As much as I enjoy kittens and make up and crying at Love Actually, I’ve never been fond of being a girly girl – hearts and love songs and small stuffed teddy bears have only ever made me feel a bit bilious. I’ve only ever really wanted a steady and reliably solid type of relationship; the kind where you can shave your legs in the shower whilst your partner brushes their teeth and you talk about what you want for tea. Desperately passionate flings full of desire and drama just seem a bit like fireworks – bright for a minute, but over depressingly quickly.  I want happy contentment and low level constant banter and with TMM, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it.

Contentment

I mean, if this isn’t a prime example of perfectly suited contentment, then I don’t know what is.

I mean, I don’t think we’re perfect (though we’re pretty close, come on now). We’ve argued over IKEA flat-pack furniture just like everyone else.  He’s thrown a tub of butter in my general direction in a fit of pique, I’ve binned a pair of his chinos without telling him (because they were hideous) and we’ve spent far too long panicking we’re not good enough for each other. It can’t be denied either that sometimes he drives me completely insane. His inability to put things back where he found them (JUST PUT IN BACK IN THE CUPBOARD DUDE) and his incessantly British need to apologise (which he wouldn’t need to do it he just PUT STUFF BACK IN THE CUPBOARDS) makes me want to spit like an angry cat sometimes.  His crippling bouts of self doubt sting me like they were my own and his limpet like sleep grip sometimes makes me want to smother him.

sleep.jpg

This is him pretending he’s an adorable princess when he sleeps. Do not believe the lies. He is a deadly sleep octopus. Also – #bonusbucky

But on the other hand, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who’s heart is so big. I know people say this all the time about plenty of people, but I solemnly believe my claim to be true. I mean, he won a Heart of Gold award at University, so it’s obviously just not me who thinks it, but I’m the lucky one who gets to see it every day. He is generous to a fault, an excellent creator of Dad Puns, has wonderfully broad shoulders, a most pleasing jaw line, and without a shadow of a doubt is one of the most truly decent human beings I have ever had the privilege to know.

I remember the morning of his graduation (his, mind you, not mine) when he drove all the way to town to pick up some more pink hair dye for me because I’d had a paddy that my hair wasn’t the right shade and locked myself in the bathroom in tears. He didn’t complain or shout, he just went out, bought the hair dye, shoved it in my hands and hugged me until I’d calmed down. It might have helped that my hair looked fabulous in all the photos, but over the years he’s spent far too much time dealing with my hair related dramas and has never once made me feel bad about it.

We’re both pretty crazy in ways that don’t necessarily compliment each other, and sometimes we get stuck in these vicious spirals of passive aggressive pity that feed off each of our insecurities. At least once a week we can be found huddling together and gently patting each other in an attempt to reason away our anxieties, but at least we do it together. He’s attended my counselling session with me without ever once complaining though it is clear to see he’d rather crawl up his own arse most of the time. He’s listened to me rant and rave and he’s let me try and talk him down when he’s been stressed and he’s made it so much easier to be mental and proud than I thought I ever could be.

He’s also gone above and beyond more times than I can count. At New Year, he dropped everything to drive me down to be with my mum and step dad during the last few days of his illness. He sat in the waiting room with me every day and offered support without a shadow of protest; speaking to family members he didn’t know, making brews and holding hands whenever he could. The best thing was though, he did it not out of loyalty or the goodness of his heart, but because he saw Mr B as family. He’s taken my clan into his heart, let them pull and push him as I do, and been grateful for the opportunity. It can be hard to make your way into a new family, but we’ve managed to find two set of people who match and it’s a honour to be part of it.

On a slightly lighter note (though maybe not for him) he’s also cleaned up my vomit after I’ve made a  bit of a drunken tit of myself, and unlike me, has hardly ever held it over my head. Even though I spent most of the night sobbing uselessly and chundering like a champ, he emptied the buckets (that’s right, buckets plural) without complaint and slept on the couch when I sprawled unhelpfully across the bed, even though he needed to be up early for a rugby match the next day.

hero

Thankfully, I haven’t got a picture of him emptying my sick buckets. Instead, he is he proving himself once again to be a hero among men – sewing sleeves onto my Halloween costume circa 2015. Also – check that jawline.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think he’s such a genuinely swell guy it’s time I let the world know. There’s no roses or cupids, no gushing barbershop quartet and no dedicated poems, but the intent is still there. We make a pretty good team, and although I still panic that one day we’ll run out of things to talk about, or something grown up will rear it’s ugly head, if we’ve made it this far without killing each other, I’m pretty hopeful for the future.

 

 

 

Words in E –Minor proudly presents….An Interview With Me

I have a confession to make. I’ve cheated.

Being the busy social butterly I am, I haven’t actually had chance to write a full and detailed blog post like I know you have come to expect (the shame). It is a cruel and busy world out there, but worry not, I will not let you down. Like any good 90s child, I have taken the teachings of Blue Peter to heart so here’s one I prepared earlier. Oosh.

Before getting into it I have a few points of interest from the weekend that I’m going to just drop in for you – I like to keep you all abreast of my life.

– We went down to visit my mother for a few days and I am glad to report she is holding out admirably against the elements determined to rain all over her parade (rather literally). Perhaps not quite as dramatically as some parts of the world, she’s has nevertheless had to deal with a natural disaster and was woken up one night last week to find water gushing in through the back door and sweeping poor BobCat off his paws. Rather dishearteningly, she’s going to have to have entirely new flooring and is currently living with enough industrial fans to re-enact a late 80s soft core rock video, but she is maintaining a strong and (mostly) postive attiude (read – heavy sarcasm) and the cats are gradually recovering. We did spend the majority of the time there with the three of us tucked up on her bed like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (being as there was no power and limited furniture downstairs), but we left her with a smile on her face and the promise of further assistance whenever required, so things were looking up

– The weekend took a dramatic turn of events when TMM tried to kill me by dropping an apple the size of a watermelon on my face. We were gathering some of the bounitful harvest that Mother’s garden had provided (like the adorable little hobbits we are) when I was brutally attacked and nearly blinded when an apple catapulted from the branch TMM was fettling with. He says it was an accident but I remain dubious. Annoyingly I don’t have anything apart from a tiny red mark to show for it, but I can promise it was very dramatic.

Apples

An innocent scene, before everything took a dark and violent turn

–  You’ll all be glad to know that Operation Prepare for Christmas is well under way. It’s excellent – there’s wool everywhere. Bucky is being very well behaved considering and I’ve only had to bat him away once or twice. He does have to sit very close to me though so he can keep an eye on things and make sure I don’t need saving from a savage wool beast. My hero.

–  Speaking of the Buckmiester General, the furry little bugger has some how injured himself and I reacted, as any good parent should, with complete hysteria. It isn’t much more that a semi-deep scratch on his paw (and it can’t even be that sore because he let me prod and poke it for ages without so much as a wince), but I was VERY concerned and made TMM research pet antiseptic creams just to be on the safeside. #seriouscatparent

With those announcements out of the way, I’ll get on to the main event. I’ve got a couple of little nuggets like this saved up for such eventualities from when I researched best blogging protocol. Apparently, readers are very interested in lists, personal details and small comedic interludes, so I’ve combined all 3 into a Listicle – 10 things you might not know about me (unless you’re TMM because he basically knows more about me than I do these days). I’m unsure how well it’ll go down, but at least it gives you all something to read on an Tuesday evening (and please feel free to share your own personal facts, or judge me heavily).

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

First Kiss

So it turns out I can’t actually remember my first kiss. How awful is that? According to TV and young adult books, the first kiss is the realisation of sexuality and the pinnacle of your youth. Your whole life blossoms from that point and  you look back fondly with misty screen and singing cherubs. Proving once again that I like to buck the social trend, when I tried to think back on this monumental and life changing event, I came up completely blank.

It’s not that I think it was particularly scarring and therefore have scrubbed it from my memory, nor is it that I actively tried to disregard anything relating to it. And it’s not as though I can’t remember other such key life events – I vividly remember my first kiss with TMM, though that might have been because he came at me with a knife.

*Side Note* it wasn’t as threatening as it sounds. It was St Patricks Day and as any good Uni student should, our not so little gang had all covered ourselves with as much green as we possibly could. I was in charge of drawing all the cheek shamrocks with my green eyeliner pencil (I say mine, it was definitely my sister’s – sorry) but being somewhat tipsy, mostly I was just smudging great green blobs on people and rather horrifically blunting the pencil. Ross proclaimed to be able to sharpen it for me, dragged me into the kitchen where he proceeded to produce the most inappropriately sized knife for the job and then promptly forgot all about sharpening it in favour of snogging my face off.)

I can equally remember the first time meeting each of my besties, graduating and my mother’s wedding. The first kiss though? Nada. I can only hope whoever it was with doesn’t remember it either….

Paddys

He might not have been my first kiss, but he’s certainly my favourite.

Joints

I apparently have weird elbows (and possibly knees). After countless years of being awful at PE and failing most physical activities, my bestest Woo pointed out to me during a yoga class that my elbows hyper extend (like a big weirdo). I can also pop out one of my thumb knuckles. Great for party tricks, useless for anything else.

Mental

I see a counsellor and have done for nearly 3 years now. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if this is actually news to anyone. I tell literally everyone. All the time. Whilst I am pretty quiet about most things, mental health is something that should never be ignored and I do my part to make sure my part in it is visible.

Thumb Sucking

I still suck my thumb when anxious or depressed. It’s something I used to do when I was little and just never really stopped. I never had a dummy, but my trusty thumb has been there through thick and thin. It has messed up my teeth up something rotten (the roof of my mouth is so arched and narrow that I can’t even fit a chubba chubba lolly between my top teeth) and the thumb in question is slightly longer than the other one but it’s something done so unconsciously I don’t even register it anymore. I kind of think that maybe I should be embarrassed by it sometimes, and that being 26 I should maybe look for different coping mechanisms, but to be honest I’ve got bigger fish to fry, and if anyone’s got a problem with it, I dare you to tell me to my adorable, thumb sucking face.

Body Art

I am tattoo free but do not always intend to remain so. People are always a little surprised that I am un-inked (I obviously give off that kind of vibe), but I have big dreams people. Low pain threshold but big dreams.

Twinkle Toes

I have sleep musical toes. I only learnt this recently, but we have the radio on in the morning and according to TMM, my toes will join in with most songs, regardless of whether I’m actually awake or not.

*Big Families*

I have lived more of my life with my parents separated than with them together. Now in today’s society it’s not actually that unusual anymore, but I think the bit that people are always surprised about is how pleasant and friendly they still are with each other. It’s been nearly 17 years now, but they buried the hatchet long ago. There have been parties where my mum and her ex husband’s girlfriend have laughed together and hugged, holidays where my dad and his girlfriend have stayed with his ex mother in law, and whilst I don’t think either of them regret the time they spent together, they have found love in other places. Divorce has not torn my family apart. It has only made it bigger.

Family

 Just a couple of the motley crew

Personal Grooming

This ones a bit risqué, but I feel it says a lot about me as a person (for good or bad…) I once dyed my “lady hair” to match my head hair – a lovely vivid pink. Shout out to Uni friends for this – (a lot of the strangest events in my life occurred at University). I can’t remember how it originally started, but it ended with a 3 hour group research quest on some of the strangest websites out there. During the second year, we spent far too much time googling strange and unusual things and learnt far more about the dark corners of the world than any decent person should. One such sojourn took us to the land of “lower region” maintenance and let me tell you, people are willing to do some weird shit to their undercarriages. Obviously this spurned much curiosity about what could be done and resulted in a bet that I wouldn’t match all my body hair. Worry not Reader, I did. It was hilarious, and excellent if only because it meant that when someone crudely shouted out (as they were wont to do) ““Oi love, do the collars and cuffs match?” I could say yes and watch them stumble over themselves in shock.

Love

I’ve kissed more girls then I have boys. I mean, to be honest it’s not like I’ve kissed huge amounts of either, but my girl count outweighs the boys by nearly 2:1. Mainly I blame University, but to be honest I just think it’s the fact that girls are just much more friendly.

Childhood Companions

I once tried to keep a mouldy cake as a pet. There really isn’t much more to this story, but it always makes me people laugh. I was DESEPRATE for a pet when I was little (as are most small children I think) and did all I could to convince my parents that our lives would be very much enriched by the presence of a small furry beastie. They did not agree and I, of course, was devastated beyond all belief. Instead, I found and secreted a carrot cake in a tin that I found in the cupboard under my bed and cultivated it until it had grown a lovely mossy green coat and proceeded to generally stink out the house. Unsurprisingly, I could not keep the cake hidden for long and my father rooted it out and summarily disposed of it in the outside bin. I still think back fondly on it sometimes.

So there we have it. You now all know a little bit more about me than you did before and hopefully I haven’t disturbed you too much, or ruined anyone’s opinions on me. It’s surprisingly cathartic to tell the internet a bunch of things about yourself, I definitely recommend it as a starter blog post for all you budding writers out there. Who knows, you might learn something new about yourself in the process…

(God, what a cheesy ending).

One Small Step for a Craft Potato…

Avid readers of my blog (and indeed pretty much anyone who actually knows me) will be very much aware of what a big fan I am of “chillaxing’”. In fact, this very weekend I chilled to the max and it was excellent. TMM was out for most of the day on Saturday, getting Hans von Manshaft MOT’ed (he passed, hurray!) and meeting up with old friends and left me to my own devices. I did intend to do a lot of cleaning and real person stuff, like laundry and taxes. In reality I read LOTS and ate my own body weight in pancakes, which possibly did not quite achieve all that I had hoped. This really isn’t to be unexpected though. Partly this is because I love to take a casual relaxation day, and my god am I lazy. My life is made up of 50% slobbing and 50% complaining about not being able to slob. (This isn’t to say I am not plagued by anxiety fuelled guilt trips worrying about all the things I should be doing, but I’ve come to realise that if the book is good, the bed is comfy and the chocolate snacks are plentiful, you can really block out those negative thoughts for a while).

The other reason is that whilst TMM isn’t around, I have the sneaking suspicion that I forgot how to human. I’m mildly concerned that I’m not actually a person at all, but instead am a soft squishy marshmallow in disguise and I’ve gotten lost in the real world with TMM as my carer/guide. I really feel this should concern me, but mainly it means that when left unsupervised, I just dance manically around the house in my pjs to early 00s soft rock like I’m Cameron Diaz in basically every film she’s in.

Ultimately though, it meant not much was actually done on Saturday but I was in a rather cheery mood when TMM returned.

Buck equally understands the necessity of doing nothing. We were very calm together.

It’s at this juncture that an issues arises though. Although I revel in my laziness (I really am just too good at doing nothing), it does mean I spend a lot of time lying on the floor looking at the ceiling and being conflicted about my complete lack of motivation to do anything. A rather disproportionate chunk of my life is spent being disappointed at the fact that I am not the Xena: Warrior Princess I want to be and nowhere near enough time is actually spent doing something to change it. I like to blame most of this on my anxiety but it’s a cop out really. I want to learn kickboxing SO BADLY, but nobody can actually help me do anything about it until I make the effort and sulking about how difficult I find it isn’t going to win me any shiny big kickboxing trophies.  (Though, if there is some gentle yet serious martial arts guru wants to take me under their muscly wing and teach me mad self-protection skills whilst ignoring my horribly awkward attempts at conversation and not making me interact with any other person, that would be grand. Basically I want Vin Diesel to adopt me.) It harks back to my un-resolution idea though – small yet positive steps. I spend a so much time rehashing the same thing over again, but little actions towards a bigger goal are better than no actions at all. It’s a bit pathetic in some respects, but in others it actually means I can aim to achieve something without stressing out or having to give up my fantastical lazing abilities.

To that end,  I made TMM spend £40 in Lesbian Craft on Sunday in preparation for Christmas (though admittedly the decoupage festive stag head was a luxury we didn’t necessarily need, but by god we wanted it). *Side note – Lesbian Craft is the affectionate nickname we gave to Hobby Craft a few years a go. There was a period where we went there quite regularly, and it was always filled with happy looking lesbian couples in their mid 40s looking for projects. TMM and I fit right in).

Let me explain my thought process for you here. Christmas is 20% magic and 406% preparation. Now, the festive season doesn’t hold quite as much magic for me as it used to (what with family being spread far and wide and me being enough of a grown up to actually try and get people useful presents rather than adorable yet completely awful craft projects). This means that in order to fully squeeze all the joy I can from the season, I have to avoid all the pitfalls and stress inducing panics by making sure that I am ready when it comes around.

It started when someone at work mentioned how she had already started preparing her kids presents (using my Amazon Prime I might add) and although I initially mocked her, the more I thought about her levels of preparation, the more I realised this could assist me. Small steps now lead to more boxes full of wrapped presents before the decorations are even out in the shops and less hours spent traipsing round the Boots 3 for 2 sale in the first week of December with baskets full of gifts nobody wants.

To that end, I’ve start the annual Charismas Present Spread Sheet for 2017, listing every person who needs a present and what ideas I have for them. There’s a colour scheme (white for nothing or a possible idea, yellow for half done (e.g. ordered/partly made), green for complete, and blue for wrapped) though I’ve taken off the costing column this time around, because that upsets me and means I spend far too much time scrabbling through receipts and calculating things instead of enjoying the nature of just giving.

My hope is that, if I can aim to have half the presents finished by November, there won’t be the annual panic induced crying fest and hysterical over buying of tat. Instead, there will be a sedate pacing of spending and wrapping (which will all be done by TMM, because I’m sure we all remember last year’s wrapping fiasco), and by the time it actually comes around to December, it will just be the finishing touches that need to be sorted. I also want to try and make a lot of presents this year (ignoring the bit before where I mentioned about how I’m trying to be helpful and not just provide people with useless craft tat), because I A) enjoy craft and get a bit upset sometimes when it’s not for a purpose, B) want to try and get rid of some of the craft stock piles I’ve built up over the years (again, let’s ignore the bit where I made TMM spend £40 in Hobby Craft) and C) am desperately trying to save money because if I want to be a real boy with a house and a husband of my very own, I’m going to need to tone down the reckless spending a bit and aim to save my wages instead.

Once again, I seem to have waffled upon the theme of self-improvement – you’d think I’d stop talking about it and actually do something, wouldn’t you…

 

Wedding Bells and Wintery Hells

Considering Autumn doesn’t technically start until the end of September, I am feeling the strong urge to go into hibernation at the moment. It seems as though someone has flicked a switch and the long evenings I was so enjoying have been turned off. Now it’s dark before bedtime and every day is gloomy and grey. I’ve already had to break out some of the emergency blankets and I’m currently trying to pool the funds to buy a new pair of winter boots – the pumps just aren’t going to cut it in this rain. Somewhat petulantly (you may have noticed) I don’t do well in the cold. Very much like how people get “hangry” (hungry -> angry), my mood is affected by the weather; I’m “Cangry”. It’s like hangry only based on temperature.

All that being said, The Man Muffin has taken me out on a lovely walk this weekend which was only partly inspired by the bribe of fruit picking. Whilst I might complain about most things from September onwards, I am a big fan of blackberries and I can happily spend hours fighting of brambles and staining my fingers for a fruit bounty. This time round I managed to fill a tub (which previous held spicy lentils apparently) with some rather juicy blackberries and a few elderberries (bit of variety) and got just enough to make a smashing little crumble for Sunday night. TMM has his handy dandy camera bag too and we spent a good three hours adventuring through the undergrowth and having fights with cleavers (I excel at the “surprise cluster bomb cleaver attack”) before heading home and watching approximately 6 hours of Parks and Recreation whilst sewing, which in my opinion was a day well spent.

Winnie the pooh

Here I am doing my best Winnie the Pooh impression

The highlight of last week though was clearly TMM’s sister’s wedding. It was absolutely stunning and I cried at every possible opportunity (including but not limited to; the bride walking in, the vows, the couple walking out, the speeches and the dances). It did raise some minor concerns on how I’m ever actually going to make it through my own ceremony, but TMM promised he’d still take me ever if I was a snotty mess by the time I make it to the vicar, which is rather swell of him.

TMM was also given the rather daunting task of controlling the music during the ceremony, though it’s alright because he smashed it and even got a little round of applause. He makes me terribly proud sometimes. He was also on Chief Child Herder watch for a majority of the day and regardless of what he says, he’s actually pretty good at kiddie wrangling. Unlike me, he draws them in with his giggle causing abilities and comfortable arms. I mainly panic when faced with anyone under the age of 10, which both children and babies can sense, and then everybody gets a bit fraught and tearful. (Admittedly, I also panic with anyone over the age of 10 but we’re all a bit better at hiding our tears by that age.) That being said, they were all completely adorable, resplendent in their little dresses and tiny bow ties, and TMM definitely earner his “Best Uncle” badge.

The little ones were not the only well dressed party goers though – everyone pulled it out of the bag. I do always love a good dress up (note – not the shopping for the dressing up; that I passionately hate) and I felt rather fancy in my new dress and heels (with matching nail polish as carefully selected by TMM). Sadly I wasn’t able to find the giant Grace Kelly I desperately wanted (it is my dream to wear an obnoxiously large yet classy hat to a wedding) but TMM’s mum wore an excellent hat and carried that fancy headgear baton with pride. The day itself was absolutely beautiful as well, both in content and style. Jen had done most of the decorations herself and they were completely stunning (hopefully she’s kept most of them so we can steal them when it gets to our turn), and the food was fabulous – lots of tasty shredded meats in various shapes and an excellent crème brulee. Considering there was a drama with the venue (the initial venue called Jen on her birthday to reveal the great news that they were shutting down and wouldn’t be able to host the day) the new setting was absolutely gorgeous. We even managed to book a room for the pair of us (the shower was freaking amazing) which mean we could stay late into the night. Poor TMM developed a bit of a stinking headache (a combination of pre-hangover, new glasses and over-excitement) but he made it to midnight and I’m immensely proud of him.

Stupidly, at no point did we actually take a single photo of the pair of us (together or separately) throughout the whole day, so we’re waiting for TMM’s brother (who was photographer) to release the pictures to see if we actually looked presentable or not. Fingers crossed we scrubbed up well.

Baby Wrangler

Baby Wrangler Extraordinaire.

In honour of the day, I thought I’d do a bit of research and tried to find some of the weirdest wedding facts I could (as you do):

  • Seemingly, weddings are a bit of a breeding ground for evil spirits and a huge number of the traditions we know today stem from attempts to protect the bride from nefarious plots. For example, having bridesmaids in matching dresses dates back from the Roman tradition of “matching maids” where the bridesmaids were all required to dress identically to the bride to tray and confuse any demons attempting to curse the couple (no doubt confusing pretty much everyone else in the process). Similarly, carrying the bride over the threshold, wearing a veil and strewing the aisle with confetti and petals all originated as ways of combating any evil spirits with dastardly designs on the day.
  • The Danish took this one step further (like the daring bastards they are) and there is apparently a custom there of cross dressing during wedding – the bride and groom swap outfits. I’m assuming any naughty demon intent on causing havoc takes one look a groom in a meringue and decides things are already strange enough. I also think it makes a pretty great theme overall – if all your guests come dresses as each other, I cam imagine the drunken pictures are rather fabulous.
  • Positioning plays a crucial part in ritual as well – possibly one of my favourite facts is how the bride is always supposed to stand on the left of the groom. This means the groom’s right hand is free throughout the ceremony to fight off any other suitors who might be laying claim without impediment. I can’t help but imagine the scene in Muppet Treasure Island where Kermit is fighting Long John Silver. (I was hoping to find a clip of this, but apparently nobody on Youtube finds it as hilarious as me).
  • The term “best man” has a delightfully improper background as well. Supposedly, this term comes from a time when grooms were encouraged to kidnap their future brides and run off with them. Marauding bands of men would arrange and conduct these abductions and the friend of the groom who has particularly excelled at the snatching would be awarded the status of best man. It all sounds a bit Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to me – which whilst be a great musical is NOT a life lesson to be emulated. However, whilst I am glad this practice is no longer acceptable, I do have to admit to thoroughly enjoying a rousing chorus of “Sobbin’ Women”.
  • A much more romantic customer is to do with the positioning of the rings. It would appear that engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once though that finger contained the “vena amori” or vein of love; a vein that lead directly to the heart. Awwwwww.

A final bonus point (just for TMM) is that Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” is the most requested piece of music to be played during the ceremony. He’ll be pleased with this because it’s one of his go-to tunes, but if this is what I’m going to be walking down the aisle to he’ll definitely have to stand by his word of marrying me no matter how much of a crying mess I am…

 

 

 

Volume 2 – Attack of the Molly

And now, back by popular demand – more exploits of everyone’s favourite terrible twosome…

The adventures of Molly and Benji Volume 2

In this week’s instalment, Molly drops the bombshell that she needs to be taken on a grand tour of Morrisons and TMM and I are the chosen ones (cue much whimpering and murmured cursing). I do have to say though, it did not go quite as badly as previous excursions have done. Nobody died, no children were beaten, no old men were chatted up. I even did a live Twitter feed of the whole event because a) I am all about that social media presence and b) I didn’t want to forget any of the excellent one liners she threw out.

I think one of the major saving graces was the fact that The Man Muffin borrowed a wheelchair form his work which succeeded in the dual purpose of allowing Molly to think she was in control of proceedings whilst actually being wheeled past any distractions at top speed. Previous distractions have included:

“What’s that?”

“An Egg Peeler”

“Do I need one? I think I do. Get me two.”

And my personal favourite:

“What’s that, I like the packaging”

Points at a row of condoms

“Erm, something for the bathroom I think, you probably don’t need any, oh look, hand soap!”

Now obviously, and because I am still a child at heart, I had to have a quick go of the wheelchair to make sure it was fully functional. Cue ten minutes of hysteria at the end of our road.

wheelchaireI was going to add a hilarious video here, but unfortunately WordPress can’t handle it. so you’re going to just have to imagine it.

Once I have tested all the equipment for health and safety purposes, we turned up at Molly’s slightly earlier than promised to make sure she was actually up and dressed (Molly is not a morning person. Do not expect her to be dressed before 4pm). Thankfully, she was fully clothed and even had her coat on (though she told us she was keeping her slippers on because they gave her feet some room to breath), and we took the dog out for a ten minute walk and clung to each other a bit for moral support before diving fully into the breach. In order to save time, TMM backed the car down to the front door (It’s a weirdly L-shaped house so the main door is about half way down the garden) and we all enjoyed the age old dance of “Now Molly, you sit in the front” “I’ll sit in the back-” “No Molly, get in the front” before basically man handling her into the seat and clicking in her seatbelt before she could escape. Once safely in and back onto the road (with only a slight grating  as the car bottomed out over the lip – which TMM had great joy pointing out didn’t happen when he was alone in the car) and proceeded to chunter happily to herself in the front seat, occasionally dropping in our names to make sure we’re paying attention e.g. “gosh Eleanor, look at that giant horse poo!” (I mostly just hummed loudly in agreement seeing as she can’t actually hear anything anyway). We did also have to take minor detour due to a road closure which meant she got to go past the road where she “met her waterloo” as she’s taken to calling it. The story goes that when she was in the bloom of youth, she was cycling to a friends house (but had been advised by her parents to get off at the pub at the top of the hill and walk the rest of the way as it was quite steep). So she and her pal peddled – quite a distance I might add, only to get to the pub at the top of the hill and for Molly to realise her breaks weren’t working. Her friend stops, dismounts and turns to see Molly go straight past her, gaining speed rapidly and screaming about her faulty breaks. She manages to careen down the bank at quite a pace and smashes straight into the front of a greengrocers window with a rather dramatic bang. Thankfully she was moistly unharmed (she likes to tell us every time that she was glad of her “natural padding” which according to the Doctor “saved her bones”) but the whole thing brought out the bomb brigade who thought she was an explosive dropped by a German plane.Anyway, back to the story at hand. We arrived with no incident at Morrisons and TMM swiftly set up her chariot and deposited her in it. She found the whole situation terribly exciting, but wasted no time in making us promise repeatedly that we hadn’t stolen it from someone who would try and reclaim it by beating her round the head with pair of crutches. Once she was safely ensconced, we wheeled her in and she got her game face on. You can tell because she gets a bit miffed with everything and continually tries to force us to pick stuff up that she can buy as a present (we ended up with half a lettuce and two Bavarian slices). We’d barely made it down the fruit aisle before we’d had to stop a shelf stacker and ask for peaches (though it turned out that we got nectarines so who knows if that counts as a win) and had a five minute tête-à-tête with a previous carer who’d cornered us by the potatoes (Molly didn’t have a clue who she was but wasted no time in introducing us to her and having a good natter).

After that we had to have a two minute pit stop whilst she and TMM had to discuss the strangeness of cucumbers and I had to fall back and have a fit of silent hysterics before we made it over to the cake section where she asked us just to leave her to live out the rest of her days. It was here that she also got a bit distraught about watching me carry the basket and summarily ordered me to go and get a trolley – on the way back I could hear her and TMM discussing cakes from 3 aisles over. Catching up, I followed the pair of them at a sedate pace, avoiding idiots who insist on veering across lanes and cultivating an intense anger towards other shoppers who clearly should not have been allowed to be in control of any kind of machinery, whilst Molly guided the ever suffering TMM over to the bread section so she could be righteously disgusted by garlic bread.

 

MollyLook how invested they are in their cucumber study!

Nearing the end of the list, we picked up the pace a bit and TMM narrowly avoided crashing into a rack in his attempt to swing Molly round into the pet food aisle. I sneakily grabbed a box of cat food pouches (because Bucky refuses to eat canned food – he is such a snob) and Molly picked up another 74 packets of dog food treats (regardless of the fact she still has about 600 on the side in the kitchen). Briefly distracted by a pair of roller-skates in a shiny box that we were loathed to deny her (could you imagine the hilarity) we then spent a good ten minutes circling on the hunt for bars of household soap, which I didn’t even know were still a thing. She got two packets of 3 just to be on the safe side. Who even knows what she does with them.

The till proved to be a trial for all. She was deeply hurt that we paid for our own cat food and took it as a mortal insult that made her frown so hard she could barely see past her own eyebrows. She then proceeded to gesture me over so she could loudly tell me to be careful of the lady in front of us because she looked like she might punch us. Which, whilst might have possibly true, was still rather uncalled for and I had to laugh loudly over her in the hope the woman wouldn’t actually hear. Paying itself involved all sorts of hiccups. Firstly Molly didn’t hear what the young gentleman behind the till said so did that awkward old lady thing of scrunching up her face and going “EH?” repeatedly. She then had fun counting out individual notes, including an old fiver which of course is no longer legal tender, resulting in the guy behind the counter getting hella teenage boy awkward and TMM and I furiously digging through our wallets to find a replacement whilst Molly stared on in confusion. We had to take a minute out to explain that the paper notes are no longer accepted and she got a bit fractious before we promised to take it and get it exchanged (awkwardly, I put it in my wallet, forgot all about it and then tried to pay for something in the pound shop later before TMM confiscated it).

On the homeward stretch, the door in sight, we were foiled from escaping by the flower section. We’d passed them on the way in, but I think she’d been letting the idea percolate all round the shop so she could definitely decide she wanted some (after we’d paid). TMM had to dive back into the self service checkout, refusing to take her money and instead doing a proper big flirt which makes her giggle for a good minute afterwards. That hurdle successfully navigated, we made it back to the car and began wrangling Molly back out of the chair (she kept asking if she could have it, and I think was prepared to tie herself to it in protest if TMM hadn’t distracted her and managed to throw it in the back). I had a split second of fear when I thought someone had absconded with our trolley before realising I’d left it on the bank and it has rolled off down the car park and I had to chase it like a saddo whilst being laughed at by passing drivers.

Thankfully, we managed to get all the shopping, the wheelchair and Molly back into the car and make it out of the car park before anything else happened, though there was a slight concern when Molly cackled about being so excited she was going to wee herself. There was a twitch in the corner of TMM’s eye, but we were soothed by the fact she was wearing at least 5 layers of clothing and usually only threatens urination for lolz.

Finally making it back to base camp, things were going well before Benji bounded out of the house like a dog possessed and tried to knock her over about 6 times before he was dragged unceremoniously back and I managed to throw her into the house. Benji, although being a dog of mature years, has all the grace and poise of a mucky 6 year old child on a sugar high. He has the desperate urge to be basically in you, and will whine desperately if he is denied this. TMM had to basically tackle him to the floor and then sit on him until Molly was safely seated. Once we’d managed to calm them both and put the shopping away (TMM naughtily forgets the cakes but I am forced to take the half a lettuce at knife point – which I think might still be in the back of the car) we stopped for a drink and Molly had a restorative cigarette and told us repeatedly how happy she was and what a good time she’d had, which I do have to admit warms the cockles throughout all the embarrassment.

Thankfully nobody died, cried or got arrested so I think we can chalk it up as a success and hopefully that’s it now until the Christmas fair, but now she knows we’ve got access to a wheelchair, who knows!

 

 

The Art of Surviving – The How To Guide Nobody Asked For

Now this takes a slightly different direction than most of my previous blogs, but it’s been sitting in my draft pile for a while now and it’s about time it got an airing. Strap in folks, it’s going to get emotional.

I have to say this post isn’t quite as chipper as some of my previous offerings because I’ve found myself struggling this weekend. After somehow managing to develop a rather vicious but brief head cold, I sneezed and snotted and coughed my way violently through my two days of weekly freedom and spent nearly the whole time lying in bed with a damp flannel over my eyes feeling truly rotten. Waking up on Monday morning with a large blister on my lip was particularly hellish and after enduring a hefty nose bleed curtsey of a loosened mucus plug (sexy) and consequently missing my bus, I have to say I’ve been feeling pretty damn low.

The trouble is I find it very easy to fall into melancholia but so much harder to crawl back out. I always find that when you feel physically drawn it can’t help but bleed over into your head and all those mental barriers you built start to crumble slightly. I get so frustrated at myself for how easily I slip into wretchedness which in itself only serves to spiral into a rather pathetic self-pity party. To that end, I’ve made a small self-help guide in an attempt to combat this. Mostly, it is a selfish endeavour – something that I can do rather than just talking myself down in a public toilet, but I like to hope it that if it can help me, it might also be of assistance to someone else too.

(Please note – it is important to understand that I am in no way medically trained. Everything above and below is completely based on my own experiences and should not be taken as gospel.)

How To Survive Being Yourself


I always think things like this should start with a promise – a cure or something to look forward to, but it’s not really the case here. You cannot escape your own psyche. Your (perceived) weaknesses are inbuilt and ingrained, and you will never be able to run from them completely. It sucks, but that’s just how it is. Instead, it is important to try to learn to manage yourself – which I admit does sound like a load of hippy guff, but if you can’t be in charge of yourself you really can’t expect anybody else to be.

You will not be able to avoid all situations that make you anxious or sad or panicked or depressed. No matter how long you spend trying to come up with reasons you can’t do it or can’t go; hoping to be struck down by some bug, actually researching how you can injure yourself safely, praying for some kind of worldwide disaster – it is pretty much a given none of these things will give you the out you’re looking for. The events/situations will still come around and you will have to be involved. Now, people say that exposure is the key to limit anxiety and fear, but if I’m brutally honest that doesn’t feel like the case for me. I understand the concept and logically it is sound of reasoning. Trouble is, most people’s anxiety are by definition illogical and just because you do something over and over doesn’t make it any less scary. I’ve been in a job where I have to use the phone for 6 years now, and yet I still get the same gut wrenching fear every damn time I have to pick it up. Maybe I’m being a negative Nellie (perks of the illness), but just because I’m better at hiding the fear and driving through it, doesn’t mean the emotional repercussions get any less. This has turned into a rather sour diatribe which is not what I intended, but I think it’s important to define exactly what “coping” is. It’s not being cured, it is surviving as best you can and being proud of yourself for that.

There are certain things you can do to make surviving easier though; that can help you combat your issues before, during and after the trigger situations and can eventually (and hopefully) become so second nature it doesn’t seem quite as hard to scrabble for your defences every time.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Distractions.

Do not wallow – it doesn’t help, I can promise you this. The more you think about it, the more it will just balloon it further into something you can’t beat. I am a big fan of trying to break things down, find explanations or reasons and generally just over think things to death. Surprisingly, this constant re-evaluation doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Rather than providing you with tiny bite size chunks of anxiety that you can look at, assess and then move on from, each thought only glues itself to each emotion and before you know it you’re dealing with some kind of giant transformer of negativity (AnxietyPrime if you will) with handy new attachments that you have thought up and armed it with. The answer manages to be fantastically simple and aching hard all at the same time.

Stop it. Stop reassessing how you feel, stop going over the problem again and again, just stop thinking.

I know – easier said than done right? I feel like a prat just typing this because I know how damn difficult it is to tell yourself to shut up and to avoid the potholes that lurk around every situation. But I’ve come to realise that in an attempt to train myself I’m cultivating self-distraction into an art form. There are certain things that can be done to lure your brain away from the damaging issues and combat the fear before it even starts.

Before you go into your situation, find something to divert yourself for as long as you can. Heavy metal music, a favourite book, meditation, incessant humming, bingeing episodes of trashy TV or kitten video – whatever it is that drowns out your thoughts, do it. Do it for as long as you can until your time is up and then go into your thing slightly less panicked than you might have previously been. Once you’ve done whatever it was you had to do (and come out of the other side), take an hour or so to congratulate yourself. Don’t focus on how badly it went, or how terrified you felt. Just accept that it’s over, give yourself a pat on the back for making it through and then go and do something that will make you feel better and help you forget.

*Side Note* Don’t be a dick about it though. If you’re already low, don’t pick music that you know makes you sob. If you’re overwhelmed with rage, watching Donald Trump interviews won’t help. Plenty of times I’ve felt awful and have listened to sad Norah Jones songs on repeat – guess what, it only made me cry harder. Make sure to distract yourself with things that change your mood rather than compound it.  I’ve spent as long as physically possible listening to Big Band Swing music and watching The Halcyon (a wonderful ITV series about a hotel in the 1940s) this weekend and whilst it makes me ache knowing that I really have been born in the wrong time period, I couldn’t help but smile.


A Support Network.

Tell someone. Be it your mum, dad, sibling, best friend, pet, invisible pal. Whoever it is, just share your fears. The more you spread around your fear, the more it will dissipate and sometimes you need someone to either tell you that you’re not being an idiot or just give you a hug. Don’t be ashamed of your fear, and don’t let it tell you you’re not worth sympathy or love. You are so much more than you know and there will be somebody out there who will be happy to tell you that until it sticks.


Self – belief.

This is possibly the hardest one, but you have to try to have some faith in yourself. It’s likely you’ve been in this position before (if you’re like me, you find yourself in these positions all the bloody time) in which case you have empirical proof that you have survived. You might not have been happy or healthy, but you made it through and by god that’s something to be proud of. Alternatively, it might be an entirely new situation, but if you’ve managed this far, it’s more than likely you’ll manage again. Now, I’m not saying you have to throw yourself a little parade with balloons and trombones (though if you can DEFINITELY do that) because I know how hard it is to have that confidence, but at least let there be a small corner of your mind that is rooting for you. Everything else will be dragging you down and telling you how hard it is and how likely you are to fail or break or collapse, but make there be one bit of you that is a cheerleader. Even if it’s 5 minutes in the mirror every day just telling yourself you can do it. You might not believe it, but at least you’ll know you’ve done it and that can be the start you need.


Stay healthy and hygienic.

I know how sometimes it can get to the point where all you can do is lie down and ache, but not looking after yourself is not going to help. The thought of eating might make you feel queasy but starving yourself will only make it worse, and becoming a stinky little hobo is no good to anyone. Admittedly, I don’t always think that it makes you feel as good as the guides say, but getting up, having a smoothie, a shower and a walk around the garden before going back to your pit of despair can at least make you feel a bit more like a human and a bit less like a sad blob.

 


 

Just do it.

I hate this one, I really do, but sometimes it’s easier to just do the thing that scares you before you let it build into something out of your control. If it’s something that has to be done, putting it off will only serve to make the whole horrible status quo last longer than it needs to, and putting it off won’t make it any less terrifying. If something has gone wrong; if you need to speak to someone about something; if there is a task that only you can do, the only way you can make a change is to go into it with your head held high (and your palms sweating like billy-o) and just brazen it the fuck out. It might be okay, or it might be horrendous, but at least it will be done with and it’s one less thing you have to fight.

~*~*~*~*~*~

The trouble is that even as I write these points I am falling into the very beartraps I’m talking about combating. I’ve been putting off ringing the doctors for about a week not, and not wallowing is practically an impossibility for me. That is the nature of the beast though. Sometimes you know the solution but can’t quite reach it, but that doesn’t mean you are a failure.  You must remember that your illness does not define you – it is not your fault and you did not ask for it. Still, you cannot escape it and it is folly to try.

Some days it will seem surprisingly easy and then some days something will throw a spanner in the works and you’ll be hanging on by a thread, but it is important to remember through it all that everything will pass. Every situation will end, every feeling will change and no matter how helpless we think we are – we are the masters of our own fate.

Just do what you can do. That is all anyone can ask.