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.

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

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.

 

Less of a Do-er, More of a Don’t-er

Well hello there dearest readers.

I must apologies for being lax in posting recently, but as usual I went on holiday and promptly shirked all responsibilities like a big old butterfly bursting free from a cocoon. However, I am now back and will be updating as per the schedule, though I can’t say I am too happy about being back in the real world. I mostly spent Monday trying desperately to stop my head thumping on my desk and letting tiny screeches of devastation escape. I basically sounded like a deflating balloon and definitely didn’t look much better. I should have realised that the morning wasn’t really getting off to an auspicious start when The Man Muffin discovered a mutilated and bloody rib cage/spleen combo on the cream carpet of the bedroom at about 6.30am. We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion that Buckycat believes that when we go away for days at a time, it’s because we’re having to scavenge for food. In attempt to help us, he brings in various rodents in numerous stages of death/decay so that we may snack on them and he doesn’t have to worry about us abandoning him again. The gesture, whilst heart-warming in it’s conception, is getting a bit tiring in it’s physicality. Spending the Monday morning I am due back into work sat on the floor in my pants scrubbing at sizable blood splatter whilst raging at the fact my holiday is over is not really what I’m looking for in life.

In fact, I am rapidly come to the realisation that I am just not meant to be a worker. I just feel like nothing prepared me for this. School and University do not do justice to the amount of time you have to spend in an office when you’re a grown up and childhood does nothing to get you ready for the real world. For example, when you’re younger your parents encourage you to try things you don’t like in an attempt to see if they can wean you on to it – like cucumber. They give you a little bit with tea one night, prompt you to taste it and then promise if you don’t like it you don’t have to try it again for a while. Then a few weeks later they give it another go and this continues sporadically for about a year until it becomes apparent that either you have learned to love the cucumber or that is a relationship that will never flourish and should just be given up on.

Well I’ve tried work for 7 years now and I can categorically and without a shadow a doubt state that I do not like it. At all. Not even a smidge. I resent the early mornings and the having to talk to people all day and being forced to do things that are not craft or cake eating (and therefore unworthy of my time) for a majority of my day. My week off proved to me that I was so much better at life when work didn’t get in the way. I also realised that, surprisingly, I actually saved money whilst being on holiday. Admittedly, part of that is due to the fact TMM drives us everywhere and sorted most things, but I was still quite surprised. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been when practically the first thing I did when I got to work was go on Amazon and buy myself two books as a reward for actually making it to the office. To that end, I really do think it is time that I am allowed to give up. #firstworldproblems

To look back fondly on happier times (you know, that one week where I WASN’T at work) with one of those misty 1940’s screens, I’m already getting a bit emosh that they are over. We spent mornings having leisurely breakfasts in sunny gardens, visiting beaches (called Mwnt – pronounced Munt and making us Beach Munters, trolololol) and National Trust castles, as well as achieving childhood dreams (mine, not Ross’ even though it was technically his birthday holiday).

 This is St. Catherine’s – or Azkaban as I affectionately call it. After seeing it from the bay for years during every holiday to Tenby and never actually being able to get in it, Mother and I had to fight back tears of hysteria and joy when we realised it was now accessible. Starting off as a Napoleon era fortress, it’s transitioned through two world wars as well as being a family home during the 30s and a Zoo in the 70s. They’re hoping to be able to get more funding for it and do more with in the future, which is obviously a perk for us.

We also spent time visiting families (so happy), seeing kittens (SO CUTE), having a sneaky visit to Hay on Wye (so joyous) and collecting presents for TMM wherever we went. Admittedly, I lost major Fiancée points by only realising half way to Wales that I had forgotten my presents for him. This was then compounded when we got home and it became clear I hadn’t actually finished or wrapped them either. Still, after having to banish him to the kitchen for twenty minutes and furiously sorting everything out, I like to think he was happy with the outcome. Though if not, he’s left it a bit late to complain now… In true birthday fashion though, TMM has also treated himself (as should be done) and purchased a brand new super shiny camera (to go along with him super snazzy camera satchel and 400 other camera bits). We have watched all the Master of Photography, bought all of the magazines and I’ve already been told to pose dangerously on rotten logs so he can get his photo jam on. I have to say though, it’s nice to see him so invested in something, and he is a bit of a cutie with all his gear so I’m definitely not complaining.

And here we see a Man Muffin, in his natural habitat. See how he settles himself to take the perfect photo, oblivious to any threat of danger in his quest to take the perfect picture.

I’ve also spent this last week encouraging my book club (I say club, there’s literally just the three of us in a whatsapp group) to read Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch and believe they are now sufficiently hooked enough to read all 6 books (+ 3 graphic novels and 1 free audio book) so that we can gush about them together. Because gush we bloody well will. I thought I was doing very well with this series too; remaining sensibly detached and un-obsessed with it. Guess what? It didn’t last. I think I lulled myself into a false sense of security but the moment I got to the last book I knew it had all been a lie and I am now OB-FREAKIN-SESSED with them. Seriously, I’m trying to reason with myself that it’s not really sensible to just start the whole series again from the beginning, but I’m not sure if I’ll win that fight. I do have to say though, I can’t recommend them enough. One of the main reviews that’s pasted all over the front covers describes the series as “What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz”. Now whilst this might be a good tag line to draw readers in, I think that barely scratches the surface of what makes these books so darn good. Our hero, Peter Grant, is drawn into a world of magic that (whilst not being out there for everyone to know about) is still pretty established and acts in such a way that makes you think “yep, that’s pretty much what I’d do”. His voice is written in a way that is so accessible and relatable (which has got to be a pretty nifty achievement since the lead character is a 30ish, mixed race male copper, and I am a slightly younger, white female wimp) and treats the subject matter (mostly magic and murder) in exactly the way I want it to be dealt with. His confusion and education aren’t glossed over in a cheesy montage in favour of action-based DRAMA, but instead dealt with in a surprisingly realistic (yet still enjoyable) way. They even  go to some geeky corners of studying the science behind the magic in a way that pleases my inner nerd immensely. It’s not just Peter though; each of the characters are fleshed out and dealt with in a way that proves they aren’t infallible, but just doing what they can. They make decisions that I think I would find myself making in similar situations and regardless of their magic or non-magical status, they are incredibly human in how the deal with things. I mean, it probably also doesn’t hurt that one of the character DCI Thomas Nightingale is a stone cold fox and appeals to me in the kind of way old men coppers always seem to (Hey Lewis).

The thing is thought, Aaronovitch has perfectly managed to make sure that he never once falls into cliché or trope. Every single time a situation seems to be going a certain way, he doesn’t just avoid it, he bloody well blows your expectations out of the water and goes somewhere else entirely. He easily spans various genres, incorporating urban fantasy, magical realism, crime, thriller and comedy in such a seamless way I would really struggle to know where to place in on the library shelf. Considering he manages to do this consistently through each book that I’ve read (plus the graphic novels), I really can’t see myself getting out of this rut anytime soon…Back to the bookshelf!

Rivers

 I mean, come on. Just look at them for Pete’s sake! How these have not been picked up for a TV show yet I will never know.

 

 

 

Well That’s Embarrassing 

I have to say, I’m quite enjoying the “listicle” form of writing at the moment – I find it lends itself to blogging very well.  I enjoyed my Five Facts post (so much so I will look to do another one in the future. Facts are the best), and I’ve got plenty of other things I can list.

For this particular post, I was inspired by something I saw something the other day (though I can’t remember for the life of me what it was) and it served the dual purpose of making me laugh and also cringe epically whilst writing.

Everyone has certain memories of those horribly embarrassing situations that you can look back on with painful clarity, and hopefully the below 4 will encourage you to laugh (and die a little) about your own.

5 Embarrassing Things Eleanor Has Done:

1 – Let’s face it, in our 7 years together The Man Muffin has seen me at my best, my worst and every other which way he possibly could, so it’s only right I start this list off with one of the many times he’s seen me make a complete tit of myself. Let me set the scene for you. We’d been going out for a few months, still in the first flushes of love and I was obviously doing my best to be the most alluring and ladylike I could be (which was a struggle, I can tell you). So obviously it’s at this stage that I had to completely ruin it. I ‘d been staying over in Ross’ block for a few days and in need of a shower, I had snuck across the hallway like a ninja (as it was an all boys block and no matter how well you know them, a group of boys will always shout “WAHEY” at a lady obviously leaving a fellow boy’s room). The bathroom itself was reminiscent of a swimming pool’s changing room, with a line of shower cubicles set next to three toilets and all pretty much open to the elements. I’d already stripped into the towel ready to just fling myself into the shower at a moment’s notice, and was already sliding across the stupidly slippery tile floor as Ross followed behind. Just as I had gone to get into the shower like some kind of delicate water nymph my foot skidded and unable to find purchase I went down like the proverbial sack of spuds. Being as each shower was a tiny singular cubicle with a ceramic lip to prevent water escaping, I managed not only to fall gracelessly (pulling everything down with me) but also proceeded to smack every pointy joint and hip bone on the way down; ending up in crumpled heap of utterly mortified nudiness. Thankfully I managed to manfully hold off the tears (though I did have some MEGA bruises afterwards so would have been totally justified in crying) and Ross bundled into a towel and made some encouragingly soothing noises. Somehow he managed not to laugh himself sick and still thinks I’m pretty now, so there’s a silver lining somewhere. Depressingly though, it was not the last time I slipped in front of TMM, and not even the only time I fell in those bloody showers.

 

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This is not the card you’re looking for..

2 – This one is a relatively recent one and leans slightly to the creepy side. It all started on the week leading up to Father’s Day. This year, I was terribly proud of myself for being a complete grown up and super prepared. I got a great card and made a fancy laminated voucher (offering 1 super rad dad gift when I was not horribly poor and had ANY IDEA what my dearest papa wanted) and posted it with time to spare. Anyway, a few weeks later, I’m having a three way whatsapp convo with my dad and sister and he mentions how he is still waiting for one of our father’s day cards. I obviously assume that it is my sister who has failed in fulfilling her daughterly duties and prepare to be all smug only for it to be revealed that, shock horror, my card has not arrived! Outraged I demand an explanation, only to realise that I put the wrong address on the card (regardless of the fact I lived there for 5 years). Now my dad being the dedicated believer in getting his love tokens that he is, goes round to the address I had erroneously sent my card to. There, it turns out that not only had I put the wrong address on, I had also not put his name on meaning the lady who lived at the other address had opened it. This is where it gets really weird – I had written, as I am wont to do “To dearest daddy, happy father’s day, love El”. Pretty standard you might think. Well it turned out that the lady who lived there had a son who had passed away called Elliot (El for short). Basically, I sent a lady a card from her dead son. I mean that karmic cringe alone was awful, and I’m still debating whether or not I should write her an apology letter!

3 – I blame Mr B for this one more than myself, but I feel like this might actually be a right of way for any young heroine going to University (as something similar happened to my sister). I was living in the upstairs room of a two storey flat and had more belongings than any one person should ever need (it took two cars to get me down there for gods sake), so obviously moving out was a military style operation. In an attempt to save time and energy, we (being my step dad) decided that it would be advantageous to create a zipline between my window and the boot of the car upon which things could be flung down with the greatest of ease. This worked surprisingly well for the first few attempts, but it should have been clear that using a nylon rope and plastic bags was a combination eventually bound to fail. Which, of course, it did when the bag full of my underwear was hurtling down towards the car. About half way, in slow motion, the strap broke and to my mortification my knickers and bras cascaded across the front lawn and the car park, just in time for two of my room mates to come back and proceed to corpse about the place. Thankfully everything was bundled up and shoved into the car, but there’s an image of my entire underoo collection scatted wide and far that will forever be indelibly printed on my mind.

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I call this one “The Shame of the Millennial Woman”. Mainly I think TMM just enjoyed throwing pants on me.

4 – This situation is actually a joint venture of shame shared between myself and my bestie uni pal Hannah. Being of such similar temperaments, we managed to live together for all three years and wangle it that we had nearly every class together (which involved a lot of timetable studying and the occasional desperately begging email to the HR team to get swapped into the same time slots.) Being both English bods, we shared all of our seminars and subsequently managed to share most of our books (and homework). We had one class with a wonderfully grumpy old lecturer who we proceeded to adore like a kind of angry old homeless cat. He taught us American Literature and was surprisingly tolerant of our constant levels of hysteria. Being 3rd year students, we were expected to read approximately 4 books a week and be able to discuss them in detail. We probably were not as committed to this as perhaps we should have been. I really think we should have learnt from the time in second year when we did “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and thought that watching the Muppet’s version was enough – which would have been fine until someone mentioned something about Tiny Tim and there was a horrifying moment we didn’t know if he really died or not. Still, we did not learn and our faith in each other was proved once again mis-founded. We bought all our books, read them with varying levels of interest and got to the café for a quick cake before one particular class when it became painfully clear that we had read the wrong book. Instead of reading “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, a tale detailing the struggle of African-Americans in the early 20th century; we’d both read “The invisible Man” by H.G.Wells, a British science fiction novella about an actual invisible man. Unable to think of what to do, we had to reveal to our lecturer what we’d done, only to be gently smacked round the heads, called “dozy tarts” and then completely (and justifiably) mocked for the remainder of the class. As Hannah said, we should have realised what we’d done the moment we both said how much we liked what we’d read…

5 – This one I think is not actually my fault, but still makes me snort whenever I think back on it. As we all know, Molly is a firm feature of our lives and provides countless anecdotes of hysteria. One particular story originates from the fact Molly firmly believe she has met TMM’s dad. Guess what, she has not. Let me set the scene for you – TMM had gone to see his family and I was left in charge of dog walking. I had a chum who asked if he could tag along and I graciously said yes. Now, this friend is a very tall, broad, beardy man with glasses and has an excellent penchant for hitting people (mostly when they deserve it). It is important to know at this juncture that he looks nothing like Ross, his dad or indeed any relative. He is also not old enough to have a 20+ year old son. Anyway, off we go to Molly’s and below is a brief summary of what occurred:

Me – “Hey Molly, this is Dan. He’s mine and Ross’ friend”

Molly – “Ross’ dad?”

Me – “No Molly, DAN, a friend”

Molly (grabbing Dan’s hand and furiously shaking it) – “Lovely to me you Mr P*!”

Dan (aside to me) – “What the hell? What do I do?”

Me (to Dan) – “Just go with it. It’s too late now.”

So we go in for a drink and by the end of an eventful half an hour, Molly has told me just how much Ross looks like his (not) dad and asked Dan various questions about his wife, kids, job and how proud he is of TMM for going to University. By this point, Dan was fully and vigorously encouraging Molly in her fantasy whilst I was left silently cringing in the corner. We finally manage to escape, mildly hysterical, but the whole thing was made so much better when, the day after, TMM and I go to Molly’s and she proceeds to tell him how lovely his dad is. The end result is, Molly still believe she’s met Daddy Man Muffin and will staunchly refuse to forget that (even though she can barely remember our names).
Honourable mentions of other cringe-worthy situations include: the time when I left a voicemail message for my driving instructor and said “Hi Eleanor, it’s Alan” only to hear Ross nearly wetting himself in the corridor, and the joyous occasion my pencil skirt ripped all the way up the seam and I flashed my pants to a row of old men on the bus.

So there we have it. Just five (and a bit) insights into some of the hilarious situations I get myself into, which, if they do nothing else, will make a great chapter in my autobiography…