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Reasons why a broken phone is every bad moment of my life

Because much like people, a phone does not survive a first attempt at drowning let alone a second.

The mobile phone – what a glorious invention. They are notoriously fragile, dangerously temperamental and, more importantly, not waterproof. All in all, it’s clearly the perfect storage device for all the data that is important to my very existence.

I have managed to take said important artifact and drop it in the toilet twice: once last year and again a few months ago. Not exactly the record I would headline my gravestone with but hey – we all need something.

Anyway.

After snatching it out of the bowl, with reflexes somewhere between Golem and an indigenous fisherman off the coast of Vanuatu, I raced into the kitchen and did what any sane person would do.

I grabbed the biggest bowl I could find, put every single grain of rice I owned into it and threw in my soaking wet device along with a torrent of profanity and prayers. You know, just in case Roland the God of Water Damaged Electronics was in the area.

I was in a panic so started fiddling with it in an attempt to speed the process up. I frantically started patting the rice on it, dunking it in and out of the rice – at one point I was even tossing it around in the bowl like a chef who was simultaneously dressing a salad and having stroke. By this point I knew the phone was a complete write off so I just needed to keep it alive long enough to get to a store and transfer everything to a new phone/computer/any other storage device that wouldn’t crumble in the face of a flush. My phone is set to back up regularly, but I wanted to be 100% sure so began the back up process.

This was my first mistake.

Obviously my phone was now starting to react to being fair-ground-dunked into a tank of water. Up until this point it was still responding relatively normally, if a little slow. I’m not sure if it was seeing the receptacle of my most important data floating in the same receptacle as all my least important or the feelings of dismay and frustration at this unexpected trauma but, because my brain has a flair for the dramatic, I suddenly had flashbacks of some of my worst moments in life.

Some were toxic relationships, some were me being toxic, some were depressive episodes – yet all seemed to react the same way a phone does to water.

1. Both like to lull you into a false sense of security

That first moment where you’re holding it asking “omgisitokay?!” and it seems fine. It just kind of continues to do its own thing because everything’s fine, this is fine, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I’m fine.

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You can hear it now can’t you? The mouth saying “This is fine! everything is fiiiine” in a casually dismissive yet worrying maniacal manner whilst the eyes are engulfed in flames. It sounds great – sure it feels like they might actually set your world on fire but how could it be anything else but fine? Very easily my friend – it feels like they could set your world on fire because it is on fire. The floor is on fire. And you’re on fire. And Everything is on fire because you’re now in hell.

2. Both will suddenly stop responding to requests altogether

Ah yes. Stage Two. It starts glitching. At first it seemed okay, if a little slow to react, but now suddenly it’s not responding to touch very well anymore. What do you mean you didn’t want to activate text-to-speech? I know I said I didn’t know what I wanted to eat but it definitely wasn’t this – well we can’t leave now they’ve given us a menu -it’s fine I’ll find something.

You wanted to Google the nearest phone shop? Nope. I’m going to open Internet Explorer and then overheat from the sheer stress opening Internet Explorer takes on my processor. DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO. I can do it myself BRIAN.

3. Both will have an unexpected, and far too dramatic, meltdown

Without any warning, it all suddenly gets super melodramatic. Where once were apps that you could access now you have pop-up warning messages that sound like a PSA for the blitz – “Device is over heating. It will shut down in 10 seconds to cool off”. Like an argumentative narcoleptic who can’t handle being wrong, everything goes black and no matter how much you try and revive it you’re left holding a wet, lifeless box that you begrudgingly can’t throw away. This is the equivalent to “I’m not having this conversation anymore.”

Meanwhile I’m on route to the closest store filled with quiet rage because frankly if it’s not socially acceptable for me just shut down 10 seconds after I’m upset then I sure as hell don’t accept it from you.

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4. You end up seeing your life end up in a toilet

I’ve had similar feelings about people – which is both hilarious and sad.

Both contain all the information I need in order to survive – photos, my mum’s phone number, the password to my Netflix account – however one will lose this information against my will whilst the other will retain it.

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5. Desperately try to fix something that is beyond help

I’m still on route to the store. It’s been a 20 minutes journey of me rapidly stroking my phone screen like it’s a concussed man I’m trying to keep awake – to the point I can hear myself saying “stay with me, come on – stay with me”.

Maybe it’s that moment where I send you benign videos of puppies in the vague attempt the cuteness will counter act all the shit you’re putting us through without me actually having to address it. I’m still being here for you and I’m trying to make it better without actually talking to you because we’re so past that point and now “we” are just a habit. Kind of a bad one.

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It is at this point I am on the escalator exiting the station and truly realising what my life has come to. That I have become so dependent on this tiny, too-fragile, metallic information wallet that I’m giving it the same level of treatment I would to a severely injured person.

Well.

Apart from the “throwing it in rice” thing – I don’t have much first aid knowledge but I’m pretty sure uncooked rice is never going to be the right answer.

6. The point where you realise it’s over.

After a while of being in the store I find that I’m completely over it, despite the fact my phone keeps overheating, dramatically dying and then switching back on again, I’ve moved on from its bullshit and am now trying to find something that will last longer and marginally improve my life. End up going with something that is less expensive and actually gives me more data and assistance than the gurgling thing in my hand that is now covered in starch from the mixture of rice and toilet water.

I guess the moral of my little adventure with anxiety is that despite how gut-wrenchingly awful you might feel watching your phone, relationship, or even brain, sink into a watery grave of questionable hygiene, it’s not that bad. Even though all the memories, photos and silly things, like un-backed up WhatsApp conversations that you’re never going to read again but felt nice having ‘just in case’, are gone at the end of the day a phone is just a thing, this moment is just that, a moment and a person is just another human who is also flailing around trying to navigate the universe.

It sucks but you’ll have new ones. These are all temporary – there will be funnier conversations and better memes.

Besides – the guy helping you pick out your new phone is cute

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Forays into the article archive – Androgel: The Ad from Hell

“It was low testosterone – not age”. Sure it was.

 

Losing energy, becoming moody and finding substance in the scripts of “True Blood” and “Twilight” are signs that you might be suffering from low testosterone levels. Or that you have turned into a 16-year old girl going through puberty. Either way – you should really see someone about that.

Wipe the tears from your eyes and turn off the vampire love stories because Androgel could be the answer to all of your worries. After 5 seconds of watching the advert I was pretty much sold – and I don’t even need extra testosterone! Who can argue with the All American man and ‘murican made convertible muscle car driving down a sunlit dusty highway?

Androgel – the 1.62% (because if math taught me anything, it was the power of a decimal point) topical gel. Applied to shoulders, upper arms or abdomen, the gel is absorbed into the skin giving you the extra bit of pep you’ve been looking for. Be warned, hands must be washed thoroughly as, and I quote, this must not “come into contact with women and children”. Brilliant. So dose yourself up, get a little spring in your step – and then don’t even think of touching your wife as you may give her cancer.

It is a self proclaimed “honest” drug commercial, and I have to admit I couldn’t agree more. The advert is 1:31 minutes long with about 10 seconds of that being devoted to I-can-relate-to-that symptoms of low “T” levels, to get your weepy eyed attention as you’re sobbing on the sofa, then probably about another 20 seconds on what the product is (“So I don’t have to shove it into an orifice or eat it? Already sounds good!”).

After it’s pulled you in with the good looking older man and his young beautiful wife – you know, because he’s so virile – the rest of the commercial is spent listing the adverse effects on women and children (“Well, when my “T” is back I can get new ones”) all whilst you watch the couple driving down the road, playing some golf and other fun things you can only do when hyped up on testosterone. Because when your wife or child is experiencing abnormal breast pain & swelling, could potentially miscarry and/or may get cancer, mini golf is the answer. Who am I kidding – mini golf is always the answer.

By the time it starts listing the adverse effects it can have on you, your balding wobbly frame is already half way to the door with your credit card extended to sign up for a life time supply.

So if you’re alright with a bit of “change in sexual desire” or “change in skin colour” not to mention hair loss, “frequent, prolonged, or bothersome erections” then look no further.

Androgel ads – placating aging men since 2014.

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Reasons why my brain is a jerk

Because sometimes your brain forgets which end of the body it’s in and becomes a bit of an asshole. 

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The brain is a magnificent machine. It has the ability to remember and create, to learn and inspire. But just like my mobile phone, it usually occupies itself with images of cats, click-bait articles or an obscure children’s theme song pulled from the depths of my childhood that even I don’t remember fully but will uncontrollably hum for the next three days. 

And that’s not all my fault. I constantly try to keep it stimulated and primed to learn by reading the newspaper to it, encouraging it to learn new languages, reading thought provoking literature and even taking it for walks to forests and other idyllic natural spots.

Despite this my brain likes to fuck with me. I dont know if it’s angry that I try to improve it and nuture it, but like a pet cat it seemingly spends it’s time coming up with creative ways to punish me.

My brain waits. It waits until I feel safe, until I am completely unaware and calm – nothing is happening at all – then it whispers. Whispers a quiet thought so dark or ridiculous I’ll spend the next half hour trying to determine whether or not I’m a psychopath or just insane.

Why? Because it’s a jerk.

1. When I’m showering

Oh yeah, this is nice. It’s warm, you can have a bit of a sing-song, all the stress of the day can melt away. That’s right. Wash you hair. Let the water flow over you.  You’ve waited all day for this. Go on. Close your eyes.

But not for too long because, you know, demons. Demons that live in the bathroom, in the mirror or behind the shower curtain and have been waiting specifically for you to close your eyes before they attack because that’s how that works.

2. When I’m on my way to work

“This coat is so warm. Wait. Is this all that I’m wearing?”  That’s right. More than once I have been on the tube going to work and ended up worrying that I’m actually naked under my coat because I was too sleepy to realise I needed to put on clothes.

3. When I’m at work

Big meeting? Deadlines? Nope. How could you possibly think about that when your brain has just realised that Jesus said backwards sounds like ‘sausage’ or that the word bed looks like an actual bed. Or that the word “lol” looks like someone drowning and asking for help.

Oh. My. God. The Johnson and Johnson “No Tears” formula? It doesn’t mean “tears” as in crying tears – it means “tears” as in it won’t tear your hair up because words can be spelled the same way and mean different things. Mind. Blown. Can’t work anymore.

Oh look! A ladybird!

4. When enjoying an activity

You’d think that enjoying an activity would keep my brain so occupied it couldn’t possibly come up with anything dark and twisted to make my feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. It marginally detracts from the fabulous time I’m having with a completely irrational fear that though, will most likely not happen, is still probable. Ah Logic. How you have turned against me.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if you fell over whilst ice skating and someone skated past and cut all  your fingers off? No. That would be horrific. Worry about that for the rest of this outing. Thank you brain, I will.

That’s okay, I guess I can live without winter activities – I’ll just enjoy a beach holiday!

Ah yes. Enjoying being buoyant in the ocean. Drifting and floating along. Peacefully. How did that Jaws theme song go? Ah yes. That’s right. Enjoy being on full alert the rest of the day.

Thanks. Brain.

5. When out for a walk

Walking home during the day: This is such a beautiful graveyard.

Walking home at night: Ah so this is where the zombie apocalypse starts/I’m going to be possessed by a spinster governess from the 18th century

6. When at home

Yes, even for my brain, home cannot be a haven. See, if I need to go to the kitchen to get my laundry out of the washing machine, that’s fine – because I’m not about to go to bed, I’m doing a chore so ghosts and demons won’t care about me.

However when I’m walking the four steps – literally four steps, I’ve counted – from the bathroom to my room in the dark, this is when demons and ghosts will strike. Obviously. Because I’ve just brushed my teeth and thus are nearly going to bed and those are the rules. Sleepy-time + dark corridor = ghosts.

7. When going to sleep.

Hey you know that thing you don’t want to think about? Let’s think about that on repeat, then I thought it would be fun to think about all the little embarrassing things you’ve done for the past year. On repeat. For an hour.

Oh and once you’ve managed to quieten those thoughts down – remember that scene from insert random clip from scary movie I saw when I was 12 that scarred child me/weird thing I saw on Facebook once about a figure in the shadows/ Reddit thread about one line scary stories.

NIGHT!

Yeah. Thanks. Brain. Now I can’t sleep with my back facing the door because if I do and roll over there will be  little girl ghost watching me sleep. Obviously.*

*But it’s okay because I tucked myself completely in under the blanket so she can’t get me. 

8. When waking up

This is possibly the time when my brain is the biggest possible jerk – yes even more so than the point before this. It’ll let me snooze my alarm because it’s convinced the rest of my body that everything is fine.

“Guys. guys. you can go back to sleep. I’m the brain. I got this. I have a whole internal body clock thing.. I’ll wake everyone up in literally one minute.”

I roll over 20 minutes later feeling suspiciously well rested.

“Oh shit I forgot. But hey at least you’ve been dreaming about peeing and getting up..”

9. What’s that song?

Who cares because the only song you’re going to be hearing for the next three days from when you wake up until the time you fall asleep is that obscure Golden Crumpet ad circa 90’s New Zealand TV.

 

10. Random flashes of fear

Every time I wear long earrings I suddenly imagine all the ways they’ll get ripped off so I’ll spend the whole day taking them out, and then feeling stupid and putting them back in again. Then a child will get on the tube and I’ll take them out in case it does something. Because children are untrained adults and completely unpredictable.

Or how about the reason why I lock my door? Not because of intruders but zombies. Because the newly risen have no concept of how to work a door handle. They can chase me down a street no problem, but door is a complete mystery.

11. Random flashes of brilliance

What could be worse than whispering some of my greatest ideas at the point of sleepiness that I dream I’ve written it down but actually haven’t?

How about we just remember them in detail now, list entire monologues and intricate ideas when you have no possible means of writing them down – like you’re too busy becoming unintentionally intimate with this man’s right armpit because that is what constitutes commuting – and then – this is the great part – when you go to write them down I’ll go blank and either recall every line from Ghost Busters verbatim or convince you watching YouTube videos for an hour is a better option.

Pretty sure I’d have won a Booker Prize if it hadn’t been for my brain.

(Let me believe this – it keeps me going)

12. What a great date. I’m thinking a winter wedding. What? Too Soon?

This is why I don’t even like to think someone is cute too loudly in my own mind. Why? Because my brain will take “he’s nice” and run so far away with the thought it’ll start planning what our living room will look like. A mix of minimalist with some quirky accent pieces,  lord knows I love an accent piece. Not too expensive because the cat(s) will probably break it.

And don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not desperate for affection or a human touch – quite the opposite. So trust me when I say that these quiet little thoughts and images my brain casually paints when I’m not looking only to dash in front of my mind’s eye when I’m in the middle of a very tasking chore makes even me contemplate if I’m secretly Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction.

No brain. You’ve met this person three times and just because he smiles doesn’t mean you’ve got to start preparing where you’re going on holiday together. Heel girl.

 

Yes my brain is capable of some incredible feats and there are sometimes I sit back and marvel at its abilities to heal, remember and contemplate. It’s the perfect tool to do things like this blog, or the shitty sketches I use to de-stress after work, even to remember the knitting techniques Gran taught me as a child.

But most of the time, it spews the Pinball song from Sesame Street at me.

 

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Could pee be the answer to our energy crisis?

We really got nothing to lose at this point.

Ah the wonders of pee. There is pretty much nothing it can’t do. In concentrated forms, it can soothe jelly fish stings, during World War I they used widdle-soaked rags to combat chlorine gas attacks and, according to my ex, it’s a great facial moisturiser. Don’t worry, I looked it up first. Apparently he didn’t lie about everything. Just our relationship.

It can now add “phone charger” to its impressive list of accomplishments. Now, when you’re half way through an episode of Game of Thrones and you’re playing chicken with your battery life, you no longer have to look at the tracks of the upcoming tube as a reasonable response to your phone dying. You can pee on it!

Sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Gates Foundation (because Bill seems to have an affinity for funding the applications of technology for the more kinky aspects of our lives) researchers from The University of West England have developed a fuel cell that runs off of your pee. Because when in doubt, obviously, pee on it.

The microbial fuel cell (MFC) is full of a specially-grown bacteria that, in layman’s terms, poop electricity. Feeding off of organic matter (e.g. your wee), their metabolic process produces electrons (e.g. poop.) which creates a very small electric charge. After this tiny charge has been produced by our urine hungry little bacteria it’s stored in a capacitor to charge your electronic items.

Now for the more kinky of you already casting sideways glances at the top drawer in their bedside table and thinking they can kill two birds with one stone, unfortunately the amount of electricity produced by the cells are quite small. Despite being the size of car battery, they only produce enough electricity to charge a Samsung for one phone call. Which may be all you need if you’re stuck in a prison cell with a large, burly man giving you bedroom eyes.

Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos, an engineer (with the most amazing name ever) at the robotics lab where the fuel cells were developed, said “No one has harnessed power from urine to do this so it’s an exciting discovery.” Insisting that the best feature of the cell is “that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun; we are actually reusing waste to create energy.”

With the current advancements of technology the possibilities for this are endless, according to Dr Ieropoulos “The fuel cells we have used to charge a mobile phone with hold around 50ml of urine but the smallest we have had working in the laboratory hold 1ml, so we can make them a lot smaller. Our aim is to have something that can be carried around easily.”

And with the prospect of each fuel cell only costing £1 to produce it could solve a number of energy crisis fears. Cheap, reliable (depending on how hydrated you are), an efficient way of getting rid of waste and portable. And the added bonus of being an interesting party trick.

 

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Female Masturbation – Coming to an app store near you

A socially acceptable way of playing with yourself in public.

Women masturbate.

I might get kicked out of the club now for letting one of our most prized secrets slip but hey, we do. We masturbate and we poop and do all kinds of other stuff that guys do too. We watch porn, without you, and, you may want to brace yourself, some girls actually like it.

So why, for something perfectly natural not to mention fun, men get to have all the glory and women have to hide behind scented candles and bubble bath? Well like most other things in our lives, one woman has decided it’s time to formally organise this little past-time. Thanks to Tina Gong you now have an app that will show you how it’s done. Men name their bits and give them little personalities, woman apparently make an animated versions of theirs that offer tips and encouragement. Different strokes aye? Literally, as the case may be.

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You can now play fun little mini-games to learn more about female masturbation from techniques to lessons on the female anatomy. Not only this it also gives you handy little factoids, for example, did you know that 46.6% of women masturbate less than once a month every year? “Gals, you can do better!” cries an animated vagina, which is both hilarious and mildly terrifying at the same time.

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Gong’s aim isn’t to make the commuters around you feel even more awkward whilst you enjoy your new favourite game on the way to and from work (a lesson in ‘right time, right place’ if there ever was one) but more to address the stigma surrounding female sexuality. Let’s face it, we might have the vote and slowly breaking the glass ceiling, hell we’re even allowed to fart sometimes, but god forbid girls enjoy a little alone time like their male counterparts. In a situation that isn’t filmed under the title “Millie’s naughty afternoon alone”.

Taken through a journey of the female anatomy as well as playing games (greeted with an enthusiastic “Oh my, I’m getting hot and bothered” when you’re ‘winning’) by the happiest little vag you’ll ever see. Because nothing makes an awkward idea better than turning it into a cartoon; a cartoon that looks like a tiny little clitoral geisha.

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The app itself is designed to break the ice in a user-friendly way, through the use of games, cartoons and attempts to turn something taboo into a more manageable and fun learning process. If you’re playing a game that is pretty awesome you’re going to talk about it and share it with friends. So what if the principle protagonist happens to be a vagina?

 

You have to hand it to Gong (perhaps not literally) it’s not hard to see the benefits, teaching adolescents, both male and female, to accept a very normal part of growing up in an informed and fun way and doing so in such an accessible format. Or you could encourage your ex to download it. 

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Ancient Articles

A long, long time ago – I can still remember

There was a time when I would write articles for an online publication that, like a number of other online publications, has since gone out of business. I didn’t realise this also meant that every article I had written would disappear with its look-how-quirky-I-am domain name.

That’s right, somethings do disappear from the internet. Unfortunately it happened to be the only archive of all of my published work and not the picture of teenage me in a local newspaper where I look like I don’t understand how to sit down.

Thankfully I still have copies of all of my articles because I was proud of them and I’m an information hoarder. So because archiving apparently only happens for real newspapers – and my only work with a real one is a rather pathetic thumbnail – I’m going to post them here and create my own archive.

Because Reasons.

 

 

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Post from the past – because I can

Okay. So I haven’t been posting or writing that much… So to make myself feel better about it I’m going to regurgitate something I wrote about seven years ago. I had just started working in restaurants and, apparently, had never truly understood the term “customer service”. Good thing it only took me the next four to five years to figure that out and move on.

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Working at the restaurant is actually more stressful than I ever thought it could be.

I never, for a moment, thought that picking up a phone and having to speak to people would torment me as much as it does now – so much so that if my phone rings I get an involuntary twitch going on in my eye.

When I had my interview they asked me “So you’re good on the phones right? ‘Cause you’re going to  be primarily dealing with customers over the telephone.”

No probs. How difficult could that be?

And yet.

Like Chinese water torture, each phone call I’ve answered in the past 5 months has slowly dripped its way onto my sanity leaving a small little well  that is creeping into my brain.

i9I like to imagine that I have little Stress Balls that float around inside my body just aimlessly minding their own business. They mainly congregate in my brain as this is the area that stress most occurs -however they have been known to venture to other limbs in moments of worry such as being unable to open a jar, or needing to coordinate my legs into moving whilst drunk.

 

i8Now imagine if we add some stress – such as customers asking me to explain to them the concept of a menu and how it works. Or going to the bar, coming back and saying ‘Is that the bar?’

I can understand why they get confused and automatically cling to me as their line of safety to the outside world. I am the keeper of the phones.

I mean, clearly, none of the numerous amounts of waiters we have downstairs would be able to carry such profound knowledge with them as they’re far too busy remembering what cheese looks like and how to put a plate on a table. Should they attempt to know anything else then the process of walking and holding items at the same time would just fall out of their brain.

So obviously, as I answer the phones, I am clearly the brains of this restaurant and will therefore know everything about it. I can only assume this is what our customers think when they come to me and say

‘Where are the bathrooms?’

After I explain they are ‘Down the stairs, behind the stair case’ they sigh and look at me like I’ve purposely designed the building in such a fashion purely to vex them.

“Why don’t you have any up here? You should have some up here. I came all the way up.’

Oh.

Well.

Since you put it like that. Please, if you wouldn’t mind waiting, I’ll just build you some now. One moment please.

Things like that stress me.

Stress Balls as a species are very placid creatures, they can deal with a small amount of stress, however as the stress increases they begin to get confused and in their confusion puff up as their fight or flight mode begins to take effect.

 

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After a while they get so aggravated and annoyed they need to take their frustration out on something. This is where they meet the ‘Wall of Sanity’.

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They hurtle themselves directly at the Wall of Sanity, in the hopes that the extra energy accumulated during the stressful activity will deplete and they can continue to go about their milling ways.

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i2Slowly but surely my Wall of Sanity crumbles until all that is left is a gibbering, twitching mess of a person, muttering random obscenities. Please find a scale of facial expressions that I have rendered in order to illustrate this – I will refer to this as my Stress Gauge.

 

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  1. Happy, blissfully happy.
  1. “Hi, I know your menus are on-line but can you go ahead and read it to me over the phone?” – bit annoying but hey, sure.
  1. “Sorry where’s the bar?” for the third time. From the same person.
  1. “I want a round table. No. I WANT a round table.  I’m not going to come if you don’t give me a round table. You have to care about me because I pay your wages”
  1. I can no longer hear anything you say because my face has fallen off and is crawling away to seek safety in bunker somewhere.

 

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Reasons why I will never be an “East London Hipster Writer”

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Have you ever woken up and thought “Today – today is the day I’m going to be a real writer”?

No? Fair enough. I didn’t so much have that as much as “My room is far too messy for me to concentrate in it, and I actually can’t remember when I last left the house.”

So I packed up my notebook and netbook (ironically smaller than my notebook..) with some pens and good intentions and grabbed the next bus to find myself the perfect little nook in the middle of East London.

Despite my love of vinyls and vintage posters, these are all personal hobbies that I keep in my room. It’s the difference between baking cakes at home and being the embodiment of cake in public. This is how I see hipsters.

Here are some very good reasons as to why I could never been an East London Hipster Writer (ELHW), and I’m not even sorry about it:

1. I have no idea where to go, and at this point I’m too afraid to ask

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I want to feel inspired, and as comfortable as the seating is, in Starbucks I feel a bit like a sell out. And also I don’t want people to confuse me with the “My screen-play is almost at perfection” writer.

But I don’t know where to go. I spent about half an hour this morning googling “quiet cafes to write in” and then decided to be a true writer and throw caution to the wind. I’ll just hop on a bus and get off when it feels right – get lost in my own city and find the best cafe.

Unfortunately this is not a movie and I am not one of those people who has magical adventures when doing anything spur of the moment. I was hoping I would get off the bus and instantly find a fairy-lit-den of awesome.

What I found instead were a large amount of cool looking bars and cafes with a bunch of people already way ahead of the game and taking all the sockets.

The ones that I found that weren’t completly maxed out with man-buns and macs were decorated to ensure that the writer would not stay for long periods of time. Painful pews that, though look awesome in the church-esque-ness of the place, offer me no comfort. My time of zen to compose my existential insta-classic is marred with thoughts of

“Ow, my ass.”

2. My computer is way too corporate to handle the likes of the Small Niche Quirk Cafe

In order to be a ELHW you have to have your staple unconventionally cool, totally original Macbook or other Mac/Apple product. Because how else will everyone know that you are a unique, creative individual who steers so clear of mainstream culture you don’t even own a TV?

“My mac? More like my mind. This is what my mind looks like bro. It’s not beat up it’s distressed” – yeah and so am I for having somehow ended up in conversation with you.

Nothing says “I work in an office that uses bean bags instead of chairs and has a ball pit” quite like a Mac. To be fair I know that Macs are great for illustration software and other types of programs required by the creative industry, so I automatically fail in this respect rocking up with my Lenovo netbook trying to connect with my Windows 8.

I’d have better luck with a typewriter but that’s taking it one hipster level too far.

3. My wardrobe

I do not have the time, patience or fashion degree to spend 3 hours de-constructing an outfit made up of mismatched patterned velour and reclaimed, recycled vintage patchwork in order to look like I had just got out of bed.

I do not own pants that say I’ve just got back from a Buddhist retreat in Cambodia, where elephant pants are the way to go because “it’s just more practical when you’re on the beach, ya know,” – unfortunately less so in the middle of Walthamstow.

Yes, my fashion sense already throws me out of the running.

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4. The fact I actually want to complete my work

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If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Not, apparently, if you wish to be a ELHW. Nope. The only way you can be an ELHW is if there are people to recognise that this is what you are. Which is infuriating to anyone who is longing for your socket whilst you chat up the waitress telling her about your new Vlog post that you’re currently editing even though we can all see you’ve been watching episodes of Buffy. Which, hey, I’m not hating – you watch Buffy, but don’t sell me a bullshit sandwich about “work”.

Despite everything I’ve said up to this point, the main purpose of this endeavour was to find somewhere, anywhere – literally anywhere- that I could just sit, write and exist. I finally have the time to express myself and I just want to do that, in nice surroundings that make me feel warm and inspired. And a latte.

5. I do not have the energy

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Let’s get one thing straight. Being a hipster, as in people who take on this as a trend, is not a “way of life” it’s a freakin’ job. There are rules. It requires time, resources, effort in order to be this care-free, vintage-loving, alternative living, nouveau hippie. A lot of effort.

I’ll be honest. I ain’t got time for that.

There are lots of things that I love about the hipster culture and movement, it’s great because it’s in, making the things I like cool and they are now a lot cheaper and easier to find. Win-freaking-Win in my opinion.

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Being cool is so hard, it’s such work. And, as has been made glaringly obvious – I’m not a fan of things that require effort. I am a cat. Just pet me sometimes, feed me and let me nap in the sun on your couch.

I’m just not unfathomably cool enough to be considered an East London Hipster Writer.

And I am so okay with that.

4

Reasons why men should pay for things

Before all the men roll their eyes and call me a “Femi-nazi”, and all the independent I-don’t-need-a-man-to-make-me-whole women label me ‘princess’ and ship me off to Sea World in a box marked ‘Shark Bait’ – hear me out.

I recently found a job, which is great, but I’m painfully broke, which is not so great. Much to my disappointment, they don’t pay you simply for turning up on your first day and I need to wait until the end of the month before I can start reaping the benefits of being employed; all whilst I still need to go shopping and, you know, live.

Shopping when you have money and when you don’t are two very different experiences. One has you playing fast and loose with your basket, picking up mozzarella because you might fancy it on Wednesday, you might not, but that’s just how you roll because you’re a Maverick. The other has your “spree” turning into a military precise shop with a very specific list of carefully chosen “essentials”.

I was currently on the latter. And I have to tell you – I found things were more expensive than I remembered. I’d go so far as to say I was mildly taken aback by some of the discrepancies I found.

Morrisons (which was where I was shopping at the time)

– Women’s razors:

Generic “value” razors = £1

 Men’s razors :

Generic “value” razors = £1

I know. You might be thinking “and?”

I did too, I thought “oh hey, well at least there’s this”. Until I looked closer.

Women: £1 for a pack of five.

Men: £1 for a pack of ten. 

… Sorry what?

Okay. Maybe that was just a fluke.

Women’s cream:

This time I used Nivea as the control brand.

Nivea Cream Care for Women = £3

– Men’s cream:

Nivea Cream Care for Men = £2

Leaving my actual shopping basket to the wayside, I started looking at everything that had “male” and “female” versions and the winner for more expensive always seemed to end up in the female court. Hey ladies – quit your whining, at least we’re winning something.

In fact, there’s a whole referendum in place just about tampons. They’re referred to as “Non-essential” and “luxury items” by the HMRC and are now taxed at 5% *.

*As an update to this – the tax has now been removed – however I’m continuing what I wanted to say about this (a year ago.. what? so it took me a while to get around to posting. So much so the freakin’ law has changed..) because it is still relevant to how women are viewed, the tax still exists in other countries and, more importantly, it is not just menstrual items that are taxed at 5%..

Non-essential? or more laughable – luxury? It’s lumped in with “edible flowers” and “exotic meats”.  I know at least half the population do not have periods so let me be the first to inform you there are definitely no edible flowers or exotic meats involved in this process. I’m, also, not going out swimming and joyfully eating salad, as the Always ad’s seem to insinuate. I’m more likely sitting in a dark room with something warm wrapped around my abdomen, rocking back and forth muttering and longing for the sweet peace of unconsciousness.

Non- essential. Well of course, It’s not like I really need them or anything. It’s not like once a month I run the risk of turning my white trousers into the Japanese flag because I sat down for too long. Not at all.

I’m just making a fuss so people will give me chocolate. Obviously.

Not so chuffed about your pink Venus Lady Razor now are you? (To avoid a libel suit, other brands are available. And they are just as expensive.)

I did some background reading, out of curiosity and found that I had missed out on a whole movement in regards to female tax. Apparently I’m not the only one who was outraged at the fact that because I have ovaries I’m destined to pay at least £1 more than my testicular-ly engineered counterparts. Doesn’t sound like much but it ends up working out to about £500,000 extra a year. Clearly I had missed out on a mass media uproar about my lady products!

As far as the argument goes, it’s true – women don’t have to buy the ridiculously gendered products. I have to admit, I just use men’s razors. It doesn’t bother me which gender the razor I use is intended for, what bothers me is that anything aimed at women (hair products, facial products, even dry cleaning apparently) is decidedly more expensive to the point of exploitation. Just because I’m in a target market group that likes to smell like 12 different types of coconut whilst remaining completely hairless as I’m doing it doesn’t mean that should be taken advantage of so blatantly. And, frankly speaking, that target market isn’t just made up of women.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand brands can be expensive, but what I’m talking about is the fact that, from a government point of view, I live in a society where it’s okay to charge me a few quid extra because either I a) don’t pay enough attention or b) will pay for it regardless because my definition of “non-essential” is clearly different to yours. That don’t matter. My demographic still isn’t looked at like a functioning limb – my demographic is an appendix. Not quite sure what to do with it or what it does, seems pretty harmless and useless until it explodes and kills you for unbeknownst reasons. My demographic is labelled either passively benign or explosively dangerous.

Should I forgo buying the products that are aimed at my gender and opt for the slightly less coconut-ty, rugged “boy” products? Or should I pay a price equivalent to the soul of my first born purely because, as far as I can tell, it comes in more colour and fragrance options?

So all in all, guys, I’m sorry about this but you’re going to have to start paying for me when we go out because apparently I’m spending all my money on non-essential razors and tampons.

Deal with it.

 

 

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6

Reasons why being a woman is like being a letterbox

I am not a typically beautiful woman.

Before you get all up in arms, this statement is not supposed to derive pity or throw lines out in the world for compliments about my appearance. The fact that this thought is one that even a percentage of people reading this would have, is the reason for the below.

As I was saying, I am not conventionally beautiful. I am not Michelle Pfeiffer hot nor am I horribly disfigured. My one defining feature would be that I’m over-weight. Still not enough to gain comment or require someone to look extra hard at me to figure out how I fit in a seat, but for all intents and purposes normal enough that either gender would use me merely as a degree in the barometer of attractiveness of females in my general vicinity.

I used to feel like women’s issues did not apply to me, because as far as I was concerned, that was an experience that was only really had by exceptionally attractive women, or women who weren’t me. I felt untouched by this. I was very wrong. So very wrong.

Every time that I used “I have a boyfriend” or felt a pang of discomfort riddle my body when walking past a group of men, I was feeling the effects of a society that envisioned women as ‘things’. Every time I absentmindedly grabbed my phone tighter or walked a little faster I was conforming to the ideal that I was as inanimate an object as a letterbox: I was public property to be used for its purpose or to pee on when you get drunk.

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It started to dawn on me that it didn’t matter what I looked like, it didn’t matter what any woman looked like. Even the “she was asking for it, look at how she’s dressed” line was not about appearance, it was about gender. It didn’t matter what she was dressed like, the true meaning of that line is “she was asking for it, she’s a woman.” This is not a conscious decision, those choices are birthed from a lesson that is taught from the age you learn that fire is hot.


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It becomes a universal truth that defines all responses to all situations to this particular stimulus from that point onwards. Liken it to the basic rules of algebra – once you have those you can solve any equation you are presented with.

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That’s the fundamental problem.

The rules about what women are, how they should be treated and what they represent to society are wrong.

Women are things, there is no emotion to that – it is a hard fact to most men, and ironically, women – and to go against that is to go against their nature. This was something I could only understand, truly, after I questioned my own nature.

Recently I’ve been questioning a number of things in my life: why do I have a job that I clearly don’t like and why am I okay with it? Why are there a number of things about social interactions that I don’t agree with and will leave parts of me feeling like I failed my moral compass – and why am I okay with it? Why do I feel, an increasing amount of the time, that I am letting myself down with my actions?

Most of these questions were answered simply by: because I’m not doing what I want to do. I’m doing what I’ve been told to do.

Everyone does it. Why do you not wear a poncho,  ride a unicycle and declare yourself president of lizards? Because you’re not supposed to. It’s not how you do things. No – what you actually mean is you’re not supposed to because those are the rules.

There are lots of different limitations that people automatically inflict on themselves because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Perhaps this worked well before, but everything about our world is changing at such a speedy rate; we’re reconsidering everything from how we power our houses to the kinds of lightbulbs we buy to the types of foods we eat – why aren’t we doing the same with how we interact?

Needless to say, after my sudden query about everything in my life, I left my job. It felt like such a huge thing to do at the time. I’ve come to realise it wasn’t. It was the smallest of steps towards feeding the reality of who I was – that part of me who was constantly nudging and waving frantically at every interaction where I, against better judgement, bent to rules that had been ingrained in me. This part had a mini Mardi Gras in my soul the day I left my job.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a Disney Princess movie that ended up with me working my dream job and suddenly everything in my world was right. Far from. But the emotional journey of discovery of my true identity was well worth it.

In the following months I completely broke down.

My world fell brick by brick around me as suddenly everything felt wrong. It wasn’t just my job that I was lying to myself with – it was my whole way of being. This is a harsh reality to come to terms with. Imagine everything you understand about who you are, truly are, and the world in which you have spent the past 26 years of life living in and creating; all of that was a complete lie. The basis of who you were, who you thought you were, you weren’t living – you were expressing only in thought. I thought and felt one way, but acted completely differently.

I was basically full of shit.

I spent the next three months living in a bubble of depression. Not “man my show got cancelled, that’s so depressing.” But “I see myself for what I truly am, I am a fraud, I am worthless and do not deserve to live. I do not see the point of living.”

Some would say it sounds like clinical depression. I say it is a very steep learning curve – because that makes me feel more positive about it.

There were days I would be comatose in my room, there were others I wouldn’t be able to go outside because the sound of birds, the sounds of life, hurt me. Hurt me physically, deeply, even the wind on my skin felt like an acid wash. My world had been stripped to its bare wires and I was feeling every inch of it in its entirety and I couldn’t handle it.

To say I am better now would be a lie. I still have days where I don’t want to get out of bed, but – this is a big but – my ray of hope is that nothing is permanent.

Everything changes, is allowed to change – is expected to change – including me.

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Hyperbole and a Half has the best comics to describe depression:

(read her comics on depression here)

I identified the fact that I was lying to myself, which led to a domino effect of seeing that lie repeating itself across nearly every aspect of my life. I didn’t like it. So I, voluntarily or not, broke down into pieces and now I’m picking them up and putting them back together in an order and layout that I like; that is true to who I want to be.

This may have seemed like the biggest digression but I’m getting to my point.

In order for society to change how it views, and thereby treats, women, men, sexuality and every other minority-which-is-actually-majority that we sweep under a rug of “social etiquette”, we need to break it down completely.

We are a society that is full of beautiful differences, that we are starting to embrace as individuals. We need to embrace those as a society. Everything about our world is different to how it was even a year ago – but we shackle ourselves by rules that we created for ourselves centuries ago. Smash it with a massive brick into a million pieces and then rebuild it into an image that is true to who we are as a society now. Not yesterday, not 50 years ago, but now.

We all understand these truths. I know I did, understood and absorbed, but I wasn’t living them. Very few of us do because someone else will do it. I don’t need to because someone else will. They won’t.

It’s hard. Breaking down something built in 26 years felt impossible to come back from, breaking down an entire ecosystem that was built in centuries seems completely farcical. Except it’s not. It will take time, but it has to start somewhere – people are already doing it, I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard before. But from someone who spent so long being a casual observer and is now trying to be an active participant I’m asking you to pick up a sledgehammer to your life.

Break the rules.

They’re wrong anyway.