A Cautionary Fail

A Cautionary Fail

There are so many things that girls do when they are getting ready to go out. And a few extra things when getting ready to go out on a first date. Even with hours of preparation, part of you is always ready for something to go, if not wrong, then not quite right. That’s why you bring three different lip products, a pen, and a bottle opener (just me?). But there are some things you do not worry about. Things you take for granted. Things like your ability to open doors.

It’s the sort of thing that I would normally chalk up to being the kind of incident that would and could only happen to me, except that is not the case. My first thought when I realised I could not open a door was that a friend of mine had been in the exact same situation months before and I hadn’t really understood what she meant. But I did now. So, of course I texted her to let her know that she was not alone. But I was. Trapped on the wrong side of a door I could not open.

How did I get from first dates to locked doors? And were the authorities involved? No, legal action was not taken against my date, but a friend did later suggest that I was technically a hostage. I feel it is important to share this story for the sake of preventing its repetition and simply making you feel less alone if this was once you and you thought you were the only one. Since the evening did include interaction with another person, who possibly does not want moments of their lives explicitly detailed on the internet, I hope you will forgive the necessarily vague descriptions.

Boy asked out girl. Girl met boy at restaurant. Boy and girl ate food. Boy and girl had drinks. Then they had some more drinks. Girl came in for one more drink. She was then more surprised than she should have been that drink was not only thing on boy’s mind. She very sensibly made her way to the door… and could not, for the life of her, open it. The knob turned but the door did not open. The lock flipped, but the door did not open. Boy could not conceptualize that girl couldn’t open a door (nice of him really) and continued wooing efforts. Girl used wiles to get boy to open door for her and ran away home.

Don’t be that girl. There’s no living it down. I still have no idea how he opened the door.

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I Am Not Raspberry Jam

I Am Not Raspberry Jam

Just because you get to know a person does not make them any less a person. And just because you like a person does not mean you use them for the things you like and leave the rest.

Too many people are treating the romantic interests in their life like their own personal stash of flavoured jams lined up on a shelf. Strawberry for Mondays. Grape on the weekends. Raspberry for special occasions. But putting people back on the shelf when you’ve had enough, and have a taste for something a bit different, and then picking them up when you remember how nice they were, is a pretty shit thing to do. Because while jam comes with a handy lid that maintains the status quo while your off on a multi flavoured jam frenzy, people do not.

I get it. They are all sweet, and colourful, and shiny in their own special way. And every time you open a new one they make that really satisfying, sucking, pop sound. But if you take a few bites off the top and set it back down again you are left with someone who feels a bit hollow and can’t help but wonder why you picked up the spoon in the first place.

So, you don’t like seeds. Or pulp. Fine, no problem. Pass it along to someone else. Don’t leave the jam on the shelf, missing all the good bits, until it’s lost all the appeal it ever had. It isn’t fair to the jam, or your new jam, or other jam lovers. Sure, life isn’t fair, but that is no excuse to go around buying up every flavour of jam you can find only to let it sit in the pantry until you are in the mood for it. I know you take a bite here and there to keep it shiny on top, and honestly that’s worse. Pass it along to someone who really really likes apricot. There are starving children in the world.

People are not meant to sit on shelves waiting for willing spoons. Don’t be that spoon. And don’t be that jam. You are not raspberry jam.

The Bar is So Low

The Bar is So Low

I’m not looking for much.

Just someone that talks to me as much as he flirts with me. That wants me when I’m not there as much as he does when I am.

I’m really not looking for much.

I don’t need him to call me everyday. Or tell me about every person he plans to see.

Because I’m not looking for much.

I want him to care. To want to make me happy. To wonder what I think about something.

And I want to wonder what he thinks, too. To like more than being liked.

I don’t want much.

The bar is really very low.

For the stranger who comes along and tries.

Cardigan of Doom

I’ve developed something of a lip product addiction, which does not on the surface seem to have much to do with cardigans. But it does. I think about which lip gloss to put in my handbag more than what shirt to wear (an unheard of anomaly) and lust after the clicky packaging on Chanel lipsticks with, admittedly, too much enthusiasm. It’s a bit extreme, a little shallow, and not like me. Or, it wasn’t like me.

The version of me with the laser focused lip preoccupation wears more make-up all the time. She wears dresses and tights more than jeans and jumpers. And only uses tote bags to carry her groceries back from Waitrose. One year ago me had a lot of cardigans. A cardigan for every day of the week, and then some. This had everything to do with being a high school teacher, because adding a cardigan to skinny jeans and metallic flats was my conception of a cute, professional, yet still recognizably feminine, and not completely irrelevant person.

When teaching started to become that thing that will be my job for a while, instead of that thing that I’m doing in between cool and creative writing jobs, a slow creeping terror began to set in. It was subtle and kind of had a poltergeist demon whisper thing going on.

“…this over air-conditioned classroom is the only place you will experience human interaction and it will be with children with the intellectual capacity of grapefruits….”

“…your only creative activity until you retire in 40 years will be to slightly differentiate the same curriculum year after year…and no one will care…”

And other funny things, like

“…you might die here. Wearing a cardigan…”

Hahaha. Not hysterical at all, really. Honestly, eating toddler ravioli cups for lunch was also getting to me. But it was the closet full of cardigans, shoving my over-indulgent dress collection into the dark dusty recesses that most clearly signified the need for change.

Fast forward a year, and I live in the greatest city in the world with amazing friends, hobbies (!), and an unscheduled freedom that gives me time and space to be spontaneous, adventurous, and wear all my dresses. With full awareness that this is a temporary state of being, I’m soaking it up for all it’s worth. Part of me knows that the cardigans are waiting in the aforementioned recesses. And their day may come given the student loan statement I’m currently ignoring. But that day is not today. And there is also a glimmer of hope that another sartorial future awaits. Fingers crossed for lots of hats.

No Such Thing

What I am about to say will either confirm everything you’ve ever wondered about the world, or bring it crashing down. That’s right, get some tea or something. Epiphany moment. Right here.

There’s no such thing as an “adult”.

Doesn’t exist. Complete fabrication by the pharmaceutical companies to ascertain appropriate dosage. Entirely inappropriate label otherwise.

201744-young-adult-header

Everyone thinks they’re so cool and mature when they say they are doing something like a “grown-up”, which, of course, implies that you are not and they are better than you. I am not saying that I have not employed this tactic myself. Honestly, it is usually my less harsh version of indicating that I find someone too stupid to converse with. But this does not mean there is any validity to the term.

We are all just children with money and shame. Go watch children playing and marvel at the truth of this. Or don’t, because that’s kind of creepy. Dating feels like kindergarten because it is. We’re just dressed better (hopefully) and have a slightly more varied diet.

This does not mean that there is not something to be said for ageing. Over time we gain subtlety. We need less to be going on because we see so much more in the same moments and things. It is not just a dress; it’s silk, and tailored, and hugs one curve while skimming over another. Someone didn’t just make you a sandwich; they thought about your needs and what you like and took time out of their life to please and care for you, and you appreciate that.

This also can mean we are a bit more fragile and a bit more defensive, and the natural consequence is that we don’t need to hit to let someone know we want to hurt them. We have lies and insults and betrayal for that.

Yes, we mature into more complex people, but some parts take much longer than others and certain individuals need space to be five years old sometimes. Parents don’t know how to solve every problem. World leaders and nations are not immune to threats or offence. We are all making it up as we go. Trying to be ‘adult’ is the best we can hope for.

Drinking in a Toilet

Not out of the toilet, in the toilet. Or the room where the toilet was. Except there are still a couple toilets in there. But there is also a bar. And a piano. All makes sense now, right? No? Well then you are clearly not cool enough to grasp the trendy awesome that is the oh so cleverly titled new dive (haha, that’s funny because it’s underground) Ladies & Gentlemen in Kentish Town, London. The good news is that I am hardly cool enough to leave Zone 1 at all and they still let me in and gave me booze. They waited for me to ask for directions, or an actual bathroom, when I first walked in (blonde ponytails being something of a rarity in this part of town) but let me sit down at my upright piano of a table all the same.

ladies&gents

Even though I knew exactly where I was going I still managed to walk right by it. There were a few minutes of exploration of North London at night that we can get into another time. This is very easy to do because it does in fact appear to be a loo- with cement stairs leading to an industrial metal door. Luckily, contrary to all appearances, things did not evolve in a Saw 7 direction, and instead went to a more hipster speak easy place. When you, literally, come through the curtain the bar is small, but not cramped, cosy and charming- not least because of the jolly beardy bartenders. The Ladies’ Old Fashioned is in no way an anti-feminist statement (which you would know just by the generous alcohol content, if you try it) but a complement to the name of the establishment. Their very tasty and most Instagrammable cocktail is the Rhubarb and Custard. I hate gin, and it has gin, but you can not taste the gin, only sweet dessert-y goodness served in a custard powder tin.

custard drink

If you are anything like me, your first thought is how many times can one reuse a custard tin as a drinking receptacle before it disintegrates through washing and use? Approximately ten times. Or possibly that never occurred to you and you don’t care. Or, now you are wondering what happens to all the custard powder…

The music is not so loud that you can’t catch up with friends without screaming, and not so quiet that you can hear everyone else’s friends (and they can hear you forgetting the chorus to the oldies cover that just came on). All in all it made for an excellent mid-week night out that I intend to repeat.

Would a fishtail braid make me look more edgy?

kentish town

You can take the girl out of the concert; but actually, you can’t.

While it’s surprising to everyone else when I go to intimate rock concerts by myself I couldn’t be more fine with it. I might go so far as to say it’s actually my thing. I haven’t been to a concert with another person since Jingle Ball 2004 with my dad (Jennifer Love Hewitt and Mariah Carey killed it). The truth is I do a whole lot of things on my own and tend to enjoy them more when I do.

I generally make friends with the bouncers and have a nice, cute and vulnerable vibe that has, more than once, resulted in a personal visit from band members (“Why yes, I’m fine, just don’t want to get caught up in the crowd” blink, blink “Yes I would like to hear your unreleased song in the green room”) Things didn’t go quite that swimmingly this evening, because of very silly responsible concerns like getting home safely, but I was compensated with a spontaneous Christmas jazz performance on the Northern Line. See previous post for further eruptions of Christmas spirit of this sort in London.

Unlike every other concert I’ve been to in my life this one was eighty percent grown men singing along like tweens to Taylor Swift which lended a unique and cool dynamic. And every one was extremely polite. No pushing, no yelling (except that which was encouraged by the band) and not one drink spilled by an unruly passerby. Oh, British people.

xcerts 2014

Everything about the concert was improved by the headliners, The Xcerts, being Scottish. They were also super engaged and grateful and happy to be there, which makes such a big difference. Taking the intimate show vibe one step further, the lead singer switched to an acoustic guitar and sang along with the audience with no mic. The adults shushed each other and we all had a little campfire moment.

Mirrored pillars in the venue lent some sexy mystery as you could covertly watch large beardy men singing along and bopping. Decently priced beer rounded things out nicely, but the highlight of the show was when, realizing everyone knew the words, the band said, “You sing, and I’ll be Tom Petty.” And we did.

Needless to say, I will be going to more concerts while I continue to live in a city. Maybe I’ll even let someone come with me.