Thursday, 31 January 2013

"Don't you reckon you should lose some weight?"

As much as I love (and live on) Tumblr, sometimes the anonymous ask button is a curse rather than a blessing. If you have a crush on someone, anonymous messages are a delight. If you're insecure about something, anonymous messages are a death sentence.
So today, when I checked my ask box and among the usual question numbers and 'post a naked pic'/'I love your blog' messages, there were a few harsh words waiting for me; I can deal with scathing comments about my relationships or what I choose to post on my page, but seeing that 'question' about my body, or rather the size of my body, it floored me a little.

I've been so happy with myself lately. Before Christmas, in my first semester back at uni, I miraculously went from a big size 12/small 14 to an average size 10. I had a tiny waist, a flat stomach and a hint of that mythical gap between my thighs. All this, and somehow I didn't lose any weight off my breasts. It was magical. I felt better, happier, more confident. I walked tall, smiled constantly and was indescribably elated when I looked down in the shower and saw... Less.

Easter 2012 vs. Christmas 2012.

Over Christmas, of course, the inevitable weight gain occurred. I wasn't eating especially badly; more like eating little things constantly in a never ending stream, sitting on the sofa and taking full advantage of mum's home cooking. My flat stomach disappeared, my thighs started wobbling, and my breasts were more fat than womanly. To say I was unhappy wouldn't even begin to cover it.

My New Year's Resolutions were to make amends with people I've done wrong, order pizza maybe once a month rather than once a week, and get back to my lovely pre-Christmas self. I took up running, purposely bought less chocolate/biscuits/crisps and more bran/salad/fruit, and made sure I spent as little time as possible simply sitting in my bedroom doing nothing. I scheduled exercise into my daily routine, and joined two more fitness societies. I looked into a gym membership at uni.

Don't get me wrong, I think size 12 is the perfect size for a woman; as cliche as it is, it's more womanly and sexy than skinny size 6. But having been, temporarily, a comfortable size 10, and seeing how much better and healthier I could look... That's the motivation I needed.

So, to my dear Tumblr anon who has crushed my self-esteem on this, the day of never ending lectures and a hangover from hell, I just want to say: I do want to lose weight, sure. I do reckon I should. Not to make you happy, however. I want to do it for myself. And at the end of the day, when I come home after a mad night out or wake up and get in the shower first thing in the morning, I love being happy with what I see. And you can't put a price on feeling truly happy with yourself, inside and out. I'll keep you updated, Mr/Miss Anon, and I hope I'll make you proud. In the meantime, kindly fuck off.

This is my stomach today, btw.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Today's present.

I have this unfortunate habit of waking up a few minutes before my alarm every morning and checking the time on my phone, then lying in the darkness, wrapped up and toasty, trying to enjoy these last precious few moments before I have to face the music - literally, as my alarm is set to 'radio', so I often wake up to BBC Radio 1's club tunes or Nick Grimshaw's relaxed Northern drawls - and the day truly begins.
   However, this morning I woke up precisely thirty-three minutes before my alarm was due to go off. So as I lay in bed, enjoying this glorious half hour of dozing while battling emotional turmoil about the prospect of eventually putting both feet on the floor, I started thinking of all the possible excuses I could make for not coming in to my lectures today. I live too close to campus to make the "I just couldn't face the walk" excuse. The lecture is two hours long, so I can't use the "overslept slightly" excuse. It's my first lecture of this module, so the "I won't miss anything" line is unacceptable... Oh, well. There's no way I'm getting out of this, so I'd better just deal with it. I have work tonight, too, and I need to come to terms with that. I could hear myself sighing from where I'd burrowed far, far down into the duvet.

Buzz. "All ma life I wan' money an' power, respect my mind or die from lead shower, I pray ma ____ get as big as th' Effiel Tower, so I can ____ the world for seventy-two hours..."
Good morning, Radio 1. Yet again I wonder, why do I listen to you in the mornings? I miss Chris Evans and Moira - I stopped listening to Radio 2, because it made me miss home too much. I regret it now, but I can't be bothered to re-tune my radio...

I have a solid black blind over my window. Mind you, it's always dark at this time of day now, so there's not much point in drawing it just yet. I switch on my light, and my fairy lights, go into the bathroom and flip the switch on the shower, come back into my room, think "why not?" and pull up the black blind.
   And I see white. Solid white, flurrying white, sprinklings of white, white dancing in the air. I'd forgotten all that hope I'd had last night, and all that time I'd spent on the phone to my little sister saying "I smell snow! Stick your head out the window!" I'd forgotten how I'd watched snow-related episodes of Gilmore Girls all evening, and made myself a mug of mint hot chocolate, and fallen asleep with my fingers crossed. Hello, snow. I greet you with a squeak, a squeal and a great deal of dancing around the house as I open all the curtains so your beauty is fully appreciated.

It's that time of year when suddenly everyone on our Facebook news feeds is a weather expert, Twitterers are getting snap happy and posting multiple pictures of snow in their back gardens, Instagram is orgasming over the millions of pretty edits and different angles of snow on trees and cars, the TV news is just "it's snowing"...
   Yes, people are annoying when it snows. Yes, after the eleventh status or hundredth tweet it does get a little boring. Yes, after a day or two the excitement will have died down and we'll all be sick of it. So what? Enjoy it while you can!
   I have an epic essay to work on today, no food in the house, and I miss my family... But this will not stop me from walking around Stanmore with my headphones in, taking photos of the park in its beautiful white state, making endless cups of hot chocolate, calling home, visiting friends, watching more Gilmore Girls... I'm having my snow day.
"I was sure that some Fairy Godmother had done it just for me... It was my little present... When it snows, something inside me says 'hey, it's your present'... I'm gonna walk around, enjoy my present a little." - Lorelai Gilmore.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Jack Hollister Hicks.

It's December 20th, and as I step into the dark, fragrant world of Hollister & Co., I am tickled by the sight that awaits me. Dozens of frantic and confused middle-aged women are moving slowly in circles around the store, clutching pieces of paper with various wishes scribbled on them; some have handheld torches, some seem to be guessing in blind panic, and some are brandishing the scraps of paper in the blank yet pretty faces of the staff. The mums to teenagers, doing their best to give their darling children what they really want for Christmas - a shirt with the name of a beach they've never been to, a hoody advertising a university didn't attend, or some underwear with someone else's name on.

I won't lie; I was a Hollister girl. For about a year, I was one of those teenagers who wanted nothing more than a wardrobe full of meaningless Cali gear. I thought spending £34 on plain white shirts with that little red bird stitched on the breast pocket was totally justified. My Dad went to New York on a business trip, and brought me back an 'I heart NY' shirt, and an Abercrombie zip-up hoody. The coolest boys at college were the ones who wore Hollister polos, and Abercrombie joggers.
Why, though?

The clothing is excellent quality, soft to the touch and comes in all kinds of lovely bright colours (this was before I started wearing beige or navy constantly). The hoodies are snug, the polos flatter a lady's shape, the joggers are comfy as can be; and somehow no matter how many times you wash the clothes, the lush scent lingers forever. Definitely a lot of positives. However, they're also ridiculously expensive, too expensive for a student. Also, the details as to how the clothes are produced are a little vague - the labels just say "made in Indonesia"... That worries me. Plus, going back to my #1 question: why are we paying a lot of money to have some place in California/some random person's name all over our bodies?

There's also an age restriction on this type of clothing. I've seen a lot of friends' parents rocking the SoCal, Abercrombie, Hollister and Gilly Hicks gear around their homes and at the gym; parents should not be allowed to wear these things. It just looks like they're trying too hard to look young, to be 'down with the kids'.
   If I saw my Mum wearing one of my old Abercrombie shirts, I'd shake my head and tell her to get changed immediately - although she does wear Gilly Hicks polo shirts from time to time, because Gilly Hicks is Hollister's cheeky Australian cousin brand, and being Australian the names of surf clubs/beaches on the clothes actually do mean something to her. So she's excused.
   The mums who wear their Hollister hoodies (that match their daughters', of course) on the school run, or the families who take group photos on their skiing holiday of all of them in fur-lined Abercrombie gilets... No, just no.

Our lecturer Bernard, name-dropper and rambler extraordinaire, decided to rant away today about his thirteen year-old son wanting Jack Wills pants for his birthday. Bernard, ignorant as ever of what it is to be young, said "maybe that's why his trousers are always so low... To show off his £25 pairs of pants!"
I've always thought Jack Wills was the most ridiculous brand of all; every morning at college a crowd of girls would flood the canteen wearing navy hoodies with 'Wills' in bold pink lettering on the front, or T-shirts that said 'Jack' on them. Even if my name was Jack, I would not wear a T-shirt advertising this... I'd look moronic. So why is it that because it's an expensive brand, it's suddenly socially acceptable?

And don't even get me started on the topless male models on the website/carrier bags/exterior of the stores... Why are they naked when they're meant to be advertising clothes?!

In my opinion, and in abrupt conclusion as I could happily rant about this all day, the best clothes are the ones that are unique to you - the dresses that you picked up at a one-off boutique, the shirts you got from your big sister, the jeans you cut off and bedazzled... The clothes that have a story to tell, that weren't made by a famished child in Indonesia, and that are completely and utterly YOU.

Monday, 14 January 2013

My Shakey week.

The University of Winchester has, for the past three years, participated in an annual Shakespeare 'festival'/one-night spectacular at the Theatre Royal in the city centre; the project is called 'Scratch Shakespeare', and consists of three of the Bard's works being completely pulled apart and stitched back together by a group of talented students, as they take on roles as actors, producers, techies and directors.

Last year the shows included 'A Comedy Of Errors' and 'Julius Caesar'; this year the plays selected are 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'The Merchant of Venice', and 'Twelfth Night', each with a special twist set upon them.
   'Midsummer' is transformed into an 1980s wonderland, the soundtrack including Grace Jones and A-Ha, and characters are given an eighties makeover - with Oberon as Adam Ant, Titania as Madonna, the Mechanicals as Dexy's Midnight Runners, etc., it promises to be an exciting and certainly unique performance.
   'Merchant' is comprised of a cast consisting of just four actors and a myriad of musicians and physical performers; it is rumoured to have a circus theme, with the actors dressed and painted as classic red-nose clowns.
   'Twelfth Night' is slightly carnival-esque, with all characters masked and dressed in bright costume. The story of love and all the confusion it brings with it is given new life in the hands of talented students 
fighting with balloon swords.

I missed out on 'Scratch' last year, mostly due to my laziness and general ignorance of everything happening around me, and this year I seem to be making up for that by being in two of the three productions... Typically, this isn't done by any 'Scratch' actors, as it's hard work and the loyalty to one show is very important, but circumstance gave me the opportunity and I couldn't say no.
   I'd just finished the amazing play 'When It Rains Gasoline'; a wonderful experience and the greatest time working with some seriously talented and brilliant people. There was a sense of sadness creeping in towards the end of the 'Gasoline' rehearsals - what am I going to do with my time when this is all over? Will I still see my lovely co-stars? Will I get to perform again at all this year?
   That was when the 'Scratch' auditions began. I auditioned for 'Midsummer' and 'Twelfth Night', not exactly confident about my chances because a) going from a modern and originally American play to Shakespeare is a bit of a shock, b) I was certain I'd got into 'Gasoline' purely due to my choice of monologue and a touch of dumb luck on the day of auditions, and c) everyone else at the 'Scratch' auditions was more talented/experienced/well-liked than me. Still, I tried.

I got into 'Midsummer', to my absolute delight. That was the one I wanted most - how lucky was that?! Clearly my portrayal of the very simple-minded Starveling/Moonshine in the auditions made the director happy - the laughter from everyone else in the room while I slowly and deliberately stuttered "this lanthorn doth the h-h-horn-ed moon present..." made it pretty clear that I was doing something right.The director gave us our roles, and said "if any of you have agreed to do any of the other Shakespeare plays, I'll be pissed!"
   A month or so into rehearsals, I was approached by a lovely co-worker and asked if I would like to be in 'Twelfth Night' - they'd had someone drop out and desperately needed a new Captain/Antonio (two characters, both fairly small parts). I enjoyed the audition for this play, and some friends of mine had been given roles, so it would be a good experience and I'd get to perform even more. I had to be diplomatic and say "maybe, probably yes", and then confirm with the lovely director the following night that I would be happy to fill in - the director left me a voicemail saying she knew I was "having personal difficulties with some of the cast members", but reassured me it would not be a problem and she really wanted me in her show. I in turn assured her that the "personal difficulties" would never affect me in a working environment, and I was sure they'd be resolved soon enough.
   I came back to uni two weeks early to start intensive rehearsals for 'Twelfth Night'. I cannot even begin to describe how nervous I was; I felt like the new kid at school, starting in November after all the cool kids had spent the past two months hanging out and getting to know each other - what if they didn't like me? What if they hated me for replacing the girl who dropped out? What if they believe those awful things people are saying about me? As you can imagine, walking into that studio on Day 1 could not have been more terrifying. All I wanted was to do well, and make friends. I think it's gone well, so far...
   Hashtagging #TwelfthIntensive on Twitter with my fellow cast members, getting up early every day, learning to sword fight (kind of), mask making at the director's house, constant giggles and unintentional innuendo - it's been a great couple of weeks. I also managed to message the 'Midsummer' director, a lovely friend of a friend (who I'd definitely like to be a full-time friend), and she was alright with me being in two 'Scratch' shows - as long as I didn't slack off on my Mechanical duties.

Which brings me to today: the first rehearsals in the Theatre Royal. The morning was spent blocking and running 'Midsummer', plus practicing the crazy end dance to 'Love Is The Drug'. After lunch with some 'Midsummer' friends, the afternoon was all about 'Twelfth Night'. I was instructed to "be more camp" as my character of secretly-gay Antonio, and then spent the rest of rehearsals throwing a tennis ball backstage with a fellow cast member. I then had staff training at my SU, and then raced back to town to meet lovely friends (and future housemates) for a trip to the cinema. It's been a crazy day. Right now, at 1:30am, I am looking forward to my lie-in tomorrow morning, and reflecting on my mad-mad-mad week. It's been a fantastic experience, and I'm so happy I've been lucky enough to get a double helping.

'Scratch Shakespeare' is on Monday 11th Feb at the Theatre Royal, Winchester.
6:00pm - 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.
7:20pm - 'The Merchant of Venice'.
8:40pm - 'Twelfth Night'.
Tickets are £5 per show, or £11 for all three.Buy tickets online!

I've already effectively guilt-tripped my immediate family into coming, let's see how many more people I can entice. If you need that extra bit of encouragement, imagine me clicking my fingers and thrusting with a lovely male dance partner to this tune...

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Final Page.

I just finished watching the two-part last episode of season 8 of How I Met Your Mother online, and I'm actually kinda glad I watched it alone because: a) I gasped a little too dramatically at the big reveal moment, b) I was (and still am, a little bit) sobbing like an absolute baby, c) I'm in my pyjamas with what little makeup I have left on now running down my face.
I do miss having that friend to geek out with over the big reveal moments, though. In case said friend reads this short 'n' sweet post, at some point I'd love to know how he reacted.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Nice Words.

We all need a few Nice Words to get us through the day sometimes; that sweet and sudden flattery, the modest rush of "really?"s, and the manically merry mood it puts us in for the rest of the day.
   Say you're having a bad week; things are piling up and every night you're finding yourself either fast asleep at 7:32pm or ordering yourself a large pizza to eat while watching several hours of iPlayer before moving on to ice cream and 4OD. One morning you stumble into work/lectures/rehearsals, and someone, be it a friend or a simply a nice acquaintance, turns to you and says "your hair looks so shiny today!" or "I love your shoes!", and those few Nice Words can make your whole week that much more bearable.

How does one respond to a compliment, though? I used to do that terrible song 'n' dance of "oh no! Really? I hate it... No... But, I'm so ugly! You're pretty!!" whenever someone saw fit to compliment me, even if it was just a nice remark about my earrings or nail polish... I've been taught recently, however, that you must never do that. Ever. Because rather than making you seem endearingly modest and sweetly self-critical, it instead effectively throws the compliment back in the giver's face, rejecting anything nice they have to offer and slightly putting them down in the process; the compliment giver then feels bad for having mentioned your hair/shoes/earrings and retreats into a little personal hole, vowing never to say anything nice to you ever again for fear of this horrific rejection.
   Saying "thank you" in response to a compliment is in no way a big-headed or arrogant thing to do. It actually makes the compliment giver feel good, that they've done their part in making your day that little bit brighter - and who knows, maybe this little exchange will mean that you'll wear your hair like that more often, or not feel self-conscious about your gigantic feet because it's officially confirmed by your peers that they are in pretty shoes...?
   Now, after the very polite and smiley "thank you", maybe you want to offer a compliment in return? This is something I do on principle, because a) everyone who compliments me has something beautiful to be said about them, and b) you might just make their day when they most need it, too.

I'm not accustomed to getting compliments, which means that not only are they more special when they eventually come around, but I am also incredibly awkward upon receiving them. I will always say thank you, say something nice in return, and sometimes offer some additional information about what they are specifically complimenting; for example, "thanks! I got these shoes in London after Christmas, I love how bright they are!", "thank you, I get my hair done at the Treat Aveda salon in town, they're really good in there..." or even "thank you so much, the blue eyes are actually from my Dad's side of the family."
   Depending on the compliment giver, or the compliment itself, I will exhibit varied levels of blushing and/or heightened affection. So when my Mum tells me my complexion is looking really clear recently, I'll grin like mad and hug her; when a gorgeous guy tells me my eyes are "majestic", I burn bright red and occasionally offer a kiss on the cheek in return. It's an instinctive reaction, I suppose...

I've said before that I do not consider the word "skinny", or even "thin" as a compliment. "Slim" is, I think, the closest you'll get to the perfect way of saying someone has lost weight and looks all the better for it. Skinny is not a compliment, it just isn't. Skinny and thin are, in my opinion, words we associate with "unhealthy"... I'd much rather be called slim or even that eternally confusing word "curvy".

The best compliments you can give me are either on my eyes, my Dr Martens boots, or my writing - in fact, just saying you read my blog is a compliment to me. You can never know how much just saying something nice means to me. I can't even put it into words (so maybe my writing doesn't deserve a compliment at precisely this moment)... All I can say is I guarantee you hugs, blushing, just a touch of awkwardness and a compliment in return when you say some Nice Words to me.
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