Confessions of a Serial Storyteller…

Bonjourno dear readers, I hope we are all well and contented on this fine Tuesday?

Not to be overdramatic but I’m definitely dying. I’ve somehow managed to damage my shoulder and after three days of wincing and sulking and wearing a heat pack like a security blanket, it’s obviously getting close to the end. I’m going to have another bath tonight (which will make two in two days – unheard of as I am not a big fan of a bath AT ALL) and watch an episode of Due South like a big water slug in the hope it will loosen up the knot and allow my to actually mobilise again.

In other news, I have struggled a bit with inspiration for a post this week – I am loathed to post a the same kind of thing week in and week out. Most blog “How To Guides” state categorically that you have to find a ‘niche’ in the market and stick to it – apparently people don’t like it when their bloggers try and go for a bit of variety. I, however, think that sounds a bit like B*S*. Whilst my life is obviously an endless rave and the most exciting thing ever, I can’t help but feel like most people aren’t going to care that much about what I do on a daily basis. Instead, I’d like to flit between topics, like a delightful little hummingbird amongst the flowers. Why limit myself to the same old thing when I can do posts on my favourite books, intriguing facts and hilarious life anecdotes?  To that end, my blog has resembled a drunk gently lurching from subject to subject over the past few months, but who am I to fight the creative urge? Admittedly, if anybody is particularly offended (or indeed has any suggestions on topics/mediums they’d like me to cover) I am all internet based ears.

This week, it was suggested by a pal that I look to do a short story. Now, as I may have previously mentioned (I definitely have) I am often drowning in stories, one liners, hilarious character descriptions and the like. Most of them never really go anywhere, but I suppose it’s time to share a couple of them with the big wide world. Neither of these two are particularly long (handy I suppose, seeing as they’re short stories) and both are prompt based. A lot of what I write springs from someone else’s idea (yay for “homage”!) and gives me a springboard to bounce my thoughts off. I’m not sure if it counts as original work when the spark comes from someone else, but where they end up is usually somewhere all of my own creation so I’m not too fussed.

The first story is a little snippet based on an artist called Chiara Bautista and her gorgeous work. I don’t even know where I first saw her stuff (probably Pinterest) but I’ve now followed a couple of her social media sites and the art she produces is amazing. It’s hard not to be inspired by them really…

The Moon and Her Night Sky

She is made of pure white. Her skin, her hair, her eyes, her blood – they are all the same brilliant sheen. She sits cross legged against the darkness and glows, marred only by the shadow that flows across her body as the month moves on. A thin crescent of grey curves around her hips and grows to a full cloak shrouding her for days at a time, but soon it slips away and leaves her radiant against the darkness again.

He is made up of dark swirling colours and a midnight pelt. Sometimes he is small enough that he can walk by her side, her hand resting gently on his head and her pale fingers slipping into the rough fur on his crown. Sometimes he is big enough that she can ride upon his back, hunched low down over his neck with her face buried into the gap between his ears as they speed across the Earth. Mostly though, he stands next to her on two legs, his hinged knees pushing him forward, his hunched back allowing him to tilt his head close to hers so he can hear her whispers.

They travel together, moving forward endlessly.

Aren’t they just sublime?

~

Story the second comes from two sources – a Hall and Oates song (I mean why not) and a silhouette of a woman smoking that I can remember vividly but can’t find for the life of me. It must be about 7 years old now and has moved through 3 phones, two memory sticks and one scrap piece of paper glued into a notebook.

I Can’t Go For That

She stares at him, her heavy lidded eyes slatted and a thin tendril of smoke rising lazily from her pursed lips. He swallows as she crosses her legs, a flash of pale skin drawing his eye.

“Well?”

He blinks, trying to gather his scattered thoughts. Running a finger between his neck and his increasingly constricting collar, he tries to remember why it was he’d decided to say no in the first place.

“I-I can’t,” he stutters, hating the weak tremor he can hear in his own voice.

She raises a carefully shaped eyebrow and rests the unlit cigarette on the glass ashtray set on the table next to her. She leans forward and it takes all of his rapidly declining self control not to let his eyes flick down.

“It’s not that difficult. It’s practically a joyride compared to some of the other things”.

He licks his dry lips nervously and shakes his head.

“No. Not this time. Not this.”

Her head tilts to one side and her tongue darts out from between her perfectly white teeth and devastatingly red lips..

“You said you’d do anything.”

“Almost anything”.

She laughs and leans back, another cloudy wisp of smoke curling past her lips.

“So this is where you draw the line?”

He nods, a sharp jerk of the head. She smirks and it terrifies him.

“Well, there’s still time”

He shivers as he feels the tell-tale whisper against the back of his neck.

“There’s only so much a man can attach to his soul.”

hall and oate

I mean – how can you not be inspired by these fine figures of masculinity? Look at the HAIR!

~

So there you have it. Some tiny little snapshots into my Notes function on my phone. Two down – only another 57 to go…

Something to write home about…

So over the last few days a lot of politics has occurred and once again nobody really has a clue what’s going on, which doesn’t really make much of a difference to how everything usually is. Still, record numbers of young people went out to vote so it can’t be all bad. I remain mostly detached from the situation (I research, I vote, I still despair), but I am now at least a little less cynical towards the voting public. The fact that UKIP have no seats has instilled a small light of faith within my soul.

On a slightly more personal note, we’ve had new flooring in the bathroom(s) and finally the dreaded carpet is no more. HOORAY! I can now leave the shower and not have to cringe at the feel of shag-pile under my wet toes. I have smooth, stylish linoleum to look forward to after my next shower, and I’ve also realised (somewhat sadly) it means that cleaning will be much easier. Everything will be delightful and wipe clean and  I will actually be able to remove splodges of escaped hair dye rather than trying to smush it about and sighing exasperatedly. This is just another step towards my big house cleaning overhaul and I have to say, considering how much I hate it, we’re not doing too badly. The upstairs is nearly done now (still got the back room and the jewellery to do, and we also need to rearrange the bathroom(s) after the flooring) but I’m feeling V POSITIVE. LOOK HOW POSITIVE I AM (so positive). TMM I think is feeling slightly less positive due to my rather hysterical mania, but he’ll be happy enough once it’s done I’m sure. I’m also in full swing with the bedroom gallery wall I’ve recently decided I desperately need in order to compliment my upcycled bedside cabinets. One giant tropical print (+ homemade frame) is just waiting for hooks, and I’ve got 5 smaller prints (frames to be sanded) on their way. Hopefully everything will be in place by next week’s post and you’ll be able to see my new paradise for yourselves.


 New Floor. Check out that artful slate design. Though it would have been nice if the fitter had at least pretended to clean up after himself.

 In other news, you may have noticed our new Instagram account too (because we have been flogging that horse like there’s no tomorrow) @curiousreads. For those of you who haven’t (a bit rude), we’ve decided to join the hipster masses and make our own “bookstagram” – an instagram account that allows us to display our deep love of books through my English Degree and TMM’s pretty decent photography. In order to get our “social media presence” out there, TMM has had a bee in his bonnet and has not allowed me to rest on my laurels. I’ve been churning out reviews left, right and centre, and we’ve even roped in some friends to provide some guest opinions too.

Now that the first week is done with, I’m allowed to calm down a bit and we’re going to aim for 1-2 reviews a week, rather than 1-2 a day. Half the work is already done in that TMM has already got an excellent stock of photos prepared, and we’ve put together a rather repulsive number of stock #s that can be copied and pasted onto each post to draw in the punters. However, this does mean that, somewhat peevishly, I’m left to cobble together some thoughts to match the books that we can get out there. 

I sound somewhat bitter about this and I honestly don’t mean to. I love writing. I mean I really LOVE it. I have over 50 notes on my phone – a technological advancement from the countless number of notebooks that are still scattered over 3 houses (mine and my respective parents’) and it is rare I go through a week without writing something. Admittedly that sounds a bit better than it is – in no way am I the Ernest Hemingway of my day. I might have hundreds upon thousands of ideas but getting them on paper (electronic or otherwise) can sometimes prove a little tricky. I like to think that my strengths lie in the quality and not quantity of the work. Not to toot my own trumpet, but I’m great at short snippets. Single lines pop into my head that suggest a novels’ worth of hilarious content. Whole plot arcs spring, fully formed if not at all fleshed out, to the forefront of my mind and beg to be marked down. Characters for stories I don’t have, or stories for character’s that don’t belong to me sit patiently, waiting to be allowed to do something rather than just hang about in the dark waiting room of my mind drinking lukewarm tea and flicking through outdated magazines.

To succinctly put it, I’m great at writing single scenes, completely in detail (often with stage directions and everything) that have no place or setting, and just float about, popping up now and again just to remind me not to forget them.

Now, whilst it can be quite annoying for me, and is really starting to take up too much room in people’s cupboards and my phone’s memory, it has never been a huge problem. I’ll never be a great novelist, but I might eventually get around to publishing something small. I am happy in the, possibly somewhat fatalistic notion, that there’s no rush and I’ll get there eventually.

However now that I’m being but to the test, I’ve realised that the trouble with the whole situation is having to do what I do to a deadline. Writing to a time constraint (be it mine or someone else’s) isn’t the greatest, but I think that’s more due to my natural butterfly like nature of fluttering around rather than a lack of ability. Typically, the urge to write (which is strong within me) arises at the most inopportune moments or places; just as I’m about to drop off to sleep, in the back of a car late at night, walking home from work. However, the moment I try and set myself down to write something with intent and purpose, my brain is immediately blank and all that can be found within is bubbles bouncing around like an early 2000s windows screen saver. When you’ve promised to update a weekly blog though, or agreed to provide numerous book reviews, this isn’t really acceptable.

I am fighting to combat this though; another one of my #NotAResolutions. This very blog has been good encouragement to try and break this sporadic writing habit, instead forcing me to write something once a week (no matter how much like garbage it is). This new bookstagram is hopefully going to be another useful technique – if I can write a 20-30 word review on command, I’m almost half way to being able to write a full length novel! Sometimes, admittedly, the whole process does still find me sat on the kitchen floor staring at my phone with a rather ferocious frown, muttering petulantly about “how it’s just like homework and I’m a grown up I shouldn’t have homework anymore”, but I think I’m getting better. Like most habits, repetition is key, and If I can (mostly) keep a weekly blog going, I can definitely do an bookstagram. Honest.

 

Look how profesh this Bookstgram Front Page is!

 

 

My Sunday Scene – Sunshine, Screws and Sanding

Now I must start today’s post with a little apology, as I have been somewhat remiss in my writerly duties recently and left you all sadly lacking in blog posts. I would like to be able to give you valid excuse for my absence; like how I was too busy fighting deadly ninja bears or coming up with a plan to end world hunger, but mainly I was a bit busy and lacking in any kind of inspirational spark. This week I will be much better though and keep you all thoroughly updated. You’ll no doubt be proud to hear that I’ve been continuing in my action plan of regular planking, cross training and watching Fast and Furious. My motivational work out wall has some new members (shout out to Vin Diesel’s tank top and Gal Gadot who is just repulsively perfect) and I feel their patiently encouraging stares as I sweat my way unhappily to fitness. We’re going to be taking on the Press Up Challenge next week (oh joy, oh rapture), though I think there might be a couple of false starts with that one. I can’t even remember the last time I tried a press up, and with my weirdly locking elbows there is the slight concern I might get into a position and then never be able to get out again. Still Ross assures me there is at least one wash board ab hiding somewhere in my noodly body, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going until I can see it.

Motivation Wall.jpg The Motivation Wall. There are some bonus pictures round the fireplace and a lovely shirtless one of Captain America that is stuck to the inside of the kitchen cupboard door – providing motivation whilst preparing lunches 😀

Continuing in my action vibe, I’ve been very social this weekend. We had Granddad Pendlebury’s 80th birthday party on Friday night, and we were out until 1am (which was a shock to the system for both of us) having a jolly old time. Saturday was spent in Manchester for a friend’s birthday with a good rabble of people. We visited many lovely bars, had many lovely beverages and I spent a good hour or so deliberating the merits of selling body parts for money in order to fund my dream of becoming a stinkingly rich Contessa living on the coast somewhere. I often forget how much I miss Manchester and it’s nice to be reminded of what a lovely city it is now and then. Even though I was born and bred there, I still sometimes get a bit panicky about having to wander around with that many people (god I’m such a wimp), but after a little “What Would Stu Do” chat (curtsy of my ridiculously social dad), and a hipster pub or two, I’m back in the groove. We were home slightly earlier than the previous night (read about 9pm), but I still had to have a good 12 hour nap to recover for all the excitement.

I also branched out to carpentry as well this week. After replacing the diaphragm on the toilet (fyi – don’t google diaphragms on the work pc), and changing a tyre, I’m now convinced I’m the new improved Handy Andy and can turn my hand to pretty much any task. This time, I made the executive decision that we should make a coffee table from scratch. There were a selection of influences leading to this – mainly the fact that our original coffee table had a rather disturbing lean (one leg was making a desperate bid for freedom in an upsettingly creaky manner) and that Pinterest encouraged me to believe that hipster DIY is clearly a far superior choice to buying something. After much deliberating, we decided pallets were the way forward and I then spent the next three weeks bullying The Man Muffin to bring some home from work.

Cut to a few days later and I’m pinning things left, right and centre and bombarding my friend Em for guidance over what kind of drill I want and which make of electric sander will work best. She was very supportive and I am now the proud parent of a Black and Decker Mouse sander and a lovely blue driver drill (you can tell it was pay day, can’t you?). There were emails flying all over the place with various tutorials and pictures requesting TMM’s approval and the weekend was set aside (weather pending) for our creative endeavour.

The fun started when, possibly true to form, we got outside on the Sunday morning, tooled up and raring to go only to realise the pallets we actually had weren’t quite the same as the ones we imagined we had, and our original plan was gracefully thrown out of the window. Somewhat depressingly, most of the things Ross and I attempt start with four hundred years of planning and end up with a slapdash half an hour of panic and the table wasn’t really much different. Still though, I don’t think it came out too badly in the end. I spent about 2.5 hours sanding the pallets down (I had, quite literally, all of the fun with that – my hands went numb at one point and I had to be forcefully told to take a break), TMM did some lovely painting (and got it all over his nice new jeans *facepalm*) and then was a fun five minutes trying to match up wooden pegs with drilled holes that did not go anywhere near as smoothly as we imagined whilst Bucky serenaded us loudly (and unhelpfully) from the kitchen. We persevered though and everyone got to use the new drill, nobody cried and we now have a lovely new table (with wheels) and limited storage space (so we can’t continue to hoard crap) in pride of place.

 

Just look at the action going on right there. I’ve even got gloves

 Seeing as how we are now two pieces of furniture handmade up, I’ve (somewhat punch drunkenly) told TMM that from now on we can just make everything we need and live like Tom and Barbara in the Good Life. I’m not too sure that I’ve thought through the logistics of that particularly thoroughly, but I’ve got a pair of denim dungarees, a new tool belt on the way and a bucket load of gumption – so what can go wrong?

 

I got Bills, I gotta pay…so I’m gonna run, run, run, runaway!

Happy Tuesday folks!

Or not as the case may be. Let me tell you, Tuesday’s are actually my most hated day of the whole week (as most of my colleagues hear from me regularly). You see, unlike a Monday, which is blatant in it’s suckiness, Tuesday sidles up and hits you when you least expect it. With Monday, you’re ready to hate it and can go into the day fully prepared to be grumpy and bitter about the whole situation. Tuesday though, Tuesday is all like “oh hey, at least I’m not a Monday, am I right?” and pretends to be great, but then BAM, it’s halfway through Tuesday morning and you’re losing the will to live because it’s not even like it’s halfway through the week and you didn’t realise but there’s still so long to go and Tuesday is just cackling in your ear.

Though with all that being said, Tuesday is Blog Day, so I shall endeavour to try and find amusing anecdotes to bring some joy to the worst of days. This week’s post is going to herald yet more adventures of “Eleanor Tries to Adult”, so strap in.

This new set of problems started after yet another depressive episode of looking at my bank account a week after pay day and realising I’m already walking the tightrope of poverty. It was dedcided (read – I decided and bullied Ross into helping) that it was time to look at … The Bills (dun dun duuuuuuun!)

Jesus Christ, could I enjoy anything less? Like, why is this a thing I need to do? I don’t understand?! There’s suppliers and tariffs and packages and I literally have no idea what any of it means. It’s only by sheer force of internal pressure that I didn’t do what I normally do (which is just to throw it all up in the air and try and rationalise paying extra money for less stress.) But no, not this time. I am fed up of being overdrawn and I need a new couch that doesn’t collapse whenever someone sits on it, which I feel shouldn’t be too much to ask at the ripe old age of 25. This year is the start of better eating, better moving and better billing. I mean, I say that whilst slumped in my chair making my way doggedly through a packet of cheesy Doritos, but it’s the thought that counts.

There have been excel spread sheets drawn up (fully coloured-coded, obviously), various websites trawled through, a couple of mini panics and one incidence of lying on the floor and wailing pathetically. The Man Muffin and I are well known for our tendency to jump straight to anxiety and try and bury our heads in the sand, but I have to say I think we’ve done alright this time. We spent last week at the dining room table with a laptop, a printed out spread sheet and twin looks of pure terror, but we did manage to pay all the bills that were outstanding, which is a definite start. This week is going to be dedicated to researching better tariffs and doing every possible thing we can to save money. I’m not sure how well it will go as I HATE using the phone and TMM is well known for his security related panics (he’s a superstar, but he is a delicate blade of grass in the onslaught of relentless aggression of companies demanding details), but it’s got to be worth it.

I have been looking into “uSwitch” recently (check me and my bad grown up self put) which does seem to be almost suspiciously easy. Ross is going to have to be in charge of what we actually need to change (because as slightly ashamed as I am to admit it, I still don’t really know what we actually have/need to pay for – I live in a world where the water and gas is brought magically into the house by fairies), but I am going to be on hand for IT support, brow mopping and the occasional face slap when he becomes hysterical. Though if it as easy as the internet says, hopefully too many slaps won’t be required. I will update you as to how it goes and whether we end up victorious and rolling in our saved pennies, or going on the run and living in my mum’s shed so we don’t have to pay anything ever again (don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly hoping for the latter).

In more positive news though, I am now able to plank for a whole 60 seconds (though good lord does it hurt) and I have cross trained for a total of 30 minutes. Ross is like some weird exercise Hercules and has been doing regular early (SO EARLY) morning slots – though there is nothing more hilarious than seeing him cross train in his pants and granddad slippers. At the rate this is going, we’ll be bronzed and buff for when summer comes, and (hopefully) will have even saved enough money to go to a beach somewhere and display ourselves.  

 cross trainer

The dreaded cross trainer and the pair of abandoned slippers…

We’ve also had some pals down this weekend, which was totes the loveliest. We chatted, we escaped a locked room (through much high pitched giggling and panic), watched a whole season of Ex on the Beach (simultaneously the worst and best program of all time) and then drank a disgusting amount. I was somewhat outraged that even though 6 bottles of wine were consumed by others, I suffered one of the worst hangovers after 1 bottle of Radlers (basically slightly alcoholic lemonade) and 1 glass of Caribbean Twist (slightly less alcoholic juice) which I nursed boringly throughout the night. I am obviously now made of much softer stuff than I was during my wild years of University, where hangovers were something to be laughed at and Sundays after binges could be spent being action. This Sunday I mainly got emotional at Nigella Lawson preparing a feta salad, took a trip to Aldi looking like something out of a teen zombie movie and then went to bed at about 9. My rock and roll cannot be contained.

 Escape

Look, you can barely even see the hysteria in our eyes!

Things are looking up though (considering it’s STILL Tuesday). The sun is shining more often than not now, I’m still cooking at least 3 times a week and it’s just under a month until the April Bank Holiday. One should never sneeze at the small things.

 

You come to me on this, the week after the weekend of my engagement…

So perhaps somewhat ironically after last week’s blog lambasting the Valentine tradition, this post comes to you straight from the fingers of a now officially betrothed lady! It is quite likely that you haven’t actually seen anything about this turn of events because we definitely haven’t plastered it all over Facebook like the social media slags that we are. We have been terribly coy and understated about the whole affair really.

I have to say though, the response to our announcement has been delightful and a little overwhelming. It’s rather heart-warming to know that so many people are invested and encouraging of our relationship, and the amount of champagne gifts we have received is awesome (even if Ross says they are too posh to make French Onion Soup out of and has moved them onto the bookshelf out of my reach).

As to the engagement itself – it was superb. Considering I typically shy away from most situations involving public displays of affection and show most of my love for Ross through creative insults, I have to say it went rather swimmingly. Admittedly, it was perhaps not quite the magical mystery proposal that Man Muffin might have been hoping for (sadly there is a chap that will never be able to join the secret services. I don’t even need to ask him anything and he’s spilling all his secrets like a bag of rice with a hole in the bottom), but I honestly think that might have been a bit better for us. I was already riding on the crest of the hysteria wave, and if I hadn’t known what was waiting at the end, I probably wouldn’t have made it. As it was I’d already endured the rushed panic of “oh god what if I say the wrong thing” and had to be threatened with a good slapping by the Woo-ster before I could calm down.

hagrid

Ross, or Hagrid as he is now affectionately known.

Preparation-wise though, I do have to hand it to the big softie; he pulled out all the stops. He always promised me a treasure hunt, and boy did he deliver spectacularly. There was nearly a slight mix up with the timings (my hair cut finished earlier than expected and my handlers had to cancel some breakfast dates to get me on time) but by 12pm I was delivered safely to the car park outside my old Uni digs; a cello-taped envelope clutched in my sweaty hand bearing the strictest instructions to remain unopened until otherwise instructed. When I was finally given the nod, the contents were revealed to be a selection of smaller numbered envelopes each containing a photo of the pair of us (looking pretty fly throughout our 7 year relationship, I can tell you), and beautifully handwritten clues guiding me to various locations around campus.

Now I do have to say that whilst the clues were each expertly crafted, I was about as useful as a chocolate teapot and had to be nudged in the right direction a few times by my trusty support team (big gay shout out to Sarah and Jon) who were equally as hysterical as I was, but thoroughly enjoying their responsibilities. There was a lot of time spent shouting “ON THIS, THE DAY OF MY ENGAGEMENT” at unsuspecting passers by in the style of the Godfather, but we did actually keep to the plan. We visited the bar where Ross and I first met, old accommodations, the library, the observatory and had a lovely little walk around the woods (because even though I knew where the clue led, I have all the directional sense of a jelly and was never actually going to get us all the way there without incident) before coming to the end outside of Keele Hall. After a serious nudging in the right direction and a hurried semaphore conversation as Jon directed Ross to hide behind a bush, I rounded the corner to be presented with a huge bouquet of flowers and a rather pink faced Man Muffin.

We proceeded to stand about half a mile apart dithering whilst he awkwardly shrugged and said “so, do you maybe wanna…” and I thrust my hand at him with a shrill squeaking sound. Cue much snogging, opening of bucks fizz and hilarious photos.

MONTAGE!!!!!!

Now I do have to say before I sign off for the week that I really don’t think I’m any different. People keep asking how it feels to be engaged, and if I’m perfectly frank it feels very much like not being engaged, only now I have to remember to put my ring back on after a shower. Though honestly, I really don’t think there’s much Ross and I could do to change our relationship – we might both be useless at life, but we’re pretty much just right for each other.

Love in the Time of Commercialism

Hello my lovely little cabbages. I must apologise because I’ve been a bit remiss in posting recently – I’ve been distressingly busy and spent all my free time either napping or lying face down on the floor groaning. Ross had to threaten to return my boots (which were a gift to myself for starting and maintain a blog) to spur me into action. And let’s be honest, I can’t really let this date go past with some kind of personal commentary now, can I?

Now, as you may or may not be aware (though if you’re not you must have managed to avoid going into any shop anywhere for the last two weeks – bloody hearts everywhere!) today is Valentine’s Day. On the whole, I’ve always been a bit of a misog at heart and have never really enjoyed this particular international revel. When you’re single, I like to think the more appropriate title is “Single Awareness Day” which I remember celebrating a few years ago by visiting a Starbucks in Manchester with some friends and having a cup of hot chocolate over a romantic tea light, and when you’re in a relationship, it mainly just induces panic buying and an influx of unnecessary expenses.

xkcd

This is an Xkcd comic (for which I take no credit) that I find hilariously relevant each year. If I actually had to be serious and do presents and giant romantic gestures, I would definitely end up with my hand stapled to my face.

Thankfully the Man Muffin isn’t too fussed about Valentine’s Day (or at least that’s what he tells me…) and we let the occasion slide by without a hoohar. There was the year he brought me a giant card and a cuddly puppy toy holding a heart with the express purpose of making me cringe (and possibly testing the boundaries of my conviction to avoidance) but we try not to talk about that because it gives me the heebie-jeebies. I think he probably wouldn’t mind celebrating if I were that type of girl, but I’ve told him to count his blessings that I don’t expect him to go through the seemingly typical rigmarole of standing in line at Pandora being eyed up by the bouncer in order to buy me an overpriced and tasteless charm for a bracelet I’ll never wear…Gosh you can just feel my distaste through the screen, can’t you?!

Now, I really wanted to be snotty and annoying (which I often do) I could give you a brief history of the day. I could talk about how Valentine was actually a Christian who was arrested and shipped of to Emperor Claudius II in Rome for aggressively bigging up Christianity, and although originally liked by the emperor, he was eventually condemned to death by being beaten with clubs and finally beheaded. I mean, what says “I love you” like celebrating the day a man was brutally killed for expressing his religious beliefs by pandering to money making schemes wrapped in a gaudy red bow?

But I shan’t do that. Because that would be petty and I am a mature and responsible lady now. Honest.

However, what I will do is admit that I am one of those annoying people who belongs to the judgey hipster crowds that thinks if you’re in a relationship when you like each other enough to buy gifts, you might as well do it whenever the hell you feel like it rather than waiting for a specific day. Ross buys me flowers just because he seems them in the shop and thinks they look pretty, which I think is bloody lovely. There’s no commitment to a date or panicked responsibilities, there’s just a lovely little bouquet on the front seat of the car and a sheepish smile on his face when he picks me up from work on a random Wednesday night.

So after those last two paragraphs it might not sound like it, but I am actually happy for other people to do Valentine’s Day however they want. If you want a certain day full of rose petals and heart shaped chocolates and helium balloons with tiny naked Cupid butts on them, you just go right ahead. I’m going to just sit in the side lines and wait for all the shiny banners and stupidly oversized cards to make way for the truly vomit-inducing amount of Easter Eggs that I know are hiding in the stockrooms.

Perhaps somewhat hypocritically though, I am completely and irrevocably in love with the notion of Galentine’s Day. Originating from Parks and Rec (still one of the best programs ever, don’t even doubt it) it’s a day when you get to joyously celebrate your gal pals (please be aware I equally encourage boys to celebrate their lady friends in a non-romantic way, and also girls and boys to celebrate their male chums in a Palentine’s celebration, or maybe a Guyentine?). Mainly I think I’ve been drawn in by the “code” – Hoes before Bros. Ovaries before Broveries. Uteruses before Duderuses and the excuse to get my mum some truly tasteless gifts (just you wait Mother, I’ve got a great one for you this weekend).

parksvalentine1galentines-day

These pictures are brought to you by the show Parks and Rec and the goddess that is Leslie Knope. #KnopeforPresident

Though I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter either way whether or not I like Valentine’s more or less than Galentine’s, or indeed if anybody else does. It’s just about being generally lovely and delightful to each other and spending a little time whenever you can to make sure your nearest and dearest know you love them, especially in a world that’s getting scarier by the minute.

Viva la Resolution!

So this month has by in a bit of a whir really. Spending time down in Wales with my mother has been (whilst under the worst circumstances) really lovely and reminded me how much like the Gilmore Girls we are – if slightly less social and slightly more interested in watching Midsummer Murders. Having to leave her and come back to work has been a wrench and one that, although obviously necessary, something I think I would happily give up if it meant I got to live the Good Life by the coast.

beach

Mother and I doing our best intrepid explorer impressions along the beach

Getting back into the swing of things has been quite strange really. It’s always a bit odd when you first return to normal after the holidays, but this time it feels different. Coming back and finding everything to be pretty much exactly how I left it has been somewhat startling. Logically I knew that the world wasn’t about to stop just because I had done and whilst losing Mr B is a huge factor is my life, it barely matters to the big wide world in general. Things tick along as they have always done and people bimble about absorbed within their own spheres and it’s time for me to slot back in. I think realising this; that nothing has change no matter how much I have, has spurred me on to make some alterations.

Now on one hand, I despise the idea of “resolutions”, especially at this time of year. Sure there are a number of things I’d like to improve about myself in the preferably not to distant future – for example I’d like to be fitter (or at least able to walk up a flight of stairs without dying), braver (though this is perhaps more of a work in progress) and have some notion about what I actually want to do with my life other than watch TV, do granny crafts and eat my own body weight in cake. The trouble is, I think people always look to make these grand sweeping life changes in the new year, which I see as a bit of a folly. Attempting to start (or stop) something in either January and February – the most depressing and cold of all the months – is perhaps not setting yourself up to succeed. If these kind of resolutions were encouraged in July when it’s sunnier and brighter, people would be a little more inclined to set themselves reasonable and achievable goals, or at least not feel quite as depressed when it all goes pear-shaped. As it is, the only sensible thing to do at this time of year is wrap yourself up in a cocoon of blankets, munch on leftovers and pray for summer.

Instead, I think it’s better not to try and set such stern objectives, but instead gently suggest things to your subconscious. I find myself tricking my brain into things, hoping it won’t notice when I go behind our back and confuse myself into doing something. Rather that setting a goal that I know I won’t enjoy the journey too, unsurprisingly not achieving it and then wallowing in a pit of failure and despair, I’ve been attempting to come at takes from previously untried angles.

One of the main things I’ve realised in an effort to make myself healthier and more self-sufficient is that it would actually be rather beneficial if I learnt to cook, rather than just relying on the boyfriend to constantly feed me (Seymour). For the most part I remain completely ambivalent towards the kitchen. I go from not hungry to starving to not hungry again in the space of half an hour, and much like a panda’s sex drive – if I am not sated immediately the opportunity is lost for days. This usually means I wander round the kitchen, morosely opening cupboard doors and staring forlornly into their depths whilst lamenting my inability to combine the contents before settling for another afternoon on the couch with my hand in the chocolate pillows cereal box.

No more though! After cooking 3 WHOLE MEALS for my mother (from scratch might I add) and neither of us dying or secretly feeding it to the cats, I’ve proved to myself that I am actually able to survive in the kitchen and can nearly almost not quite but come close to enjoying myself. My lack of enthusiasm stems not from lack of ability (or childhood training), but a complete and overwhelming lack of motivation (no surprises there). However, rather than just taking a bullish mind set and enduring resentment directed towards myself, the kitchen and Jamie Oliver, I’ve come up with a cunning plan. We have recently signed up to HelloFresh – a company that sends weekly parcels full of fresh food and recipe sheets that can be combined into delightful pre-selected meals. Now this might seem frivolous or constrictive to some, but it’s the perfect choice for me. It means I don’t have to face the continual and weirdly panic-inducing choice anxiety over trying to pick something for tea every night, or endure the stress of going to the super market and trying to corral myself (and Ross) from buying every shiny thing that crossed our path. We spend a little less than we would on a weekly shop and get 3 full meals (plus enough leftovers for lunches) and I actually find myself getting excited about food preparation in a way I haven’t since I last watched Chocolat and tried to create my own magical hot chocolate powder (and succeeded only in making myself nauseous).

Please enjoy these very professional photos taken by the Man Muffin whilst I fart about trying to prepare a meal

Last night was the first package we received and I do have to admit it was a little bit sad how over excited we were about unwrapping bags of food, especially considering we’re 25 year olds living in a first world country. Everything was delightfully packed though (in 100% biodegradable materials, including sheep’s wool which I will be using for craft purposes) and the ingredients were perfectly measured, completely fresh and organic and absolutely scrummy. I prepared a “Refreshing Pasta Salad with mange tout, pine nuts and mint” and had, quite literally, all of the fun. Things were chopped and decanted into tiny ramekins, pots were utilised with gay abandon and Ross took 5 millions photos for prosperity.

I have to say though (and I am aware that this is only the first week) things are looking quite positive for this #NotAResolution lark I’ve started, and I have high (though not unrealistically unattainable) hopes for the future.