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

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

 

Loosing 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.

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.

6

Last time I’ve laughed at myself

My challenge was identifying the last time I laughed at myself. (I won’t lie, this was an easy one. I tend to laugh at myself on a near daily basis for being ridiculous.)

The last time this happened was the other day.

To give you a bit of back story, I’ve been unemployed for about a month [see “5 stages of being fired”]. It hasn’t been easy – it’s one thing when you quit a job and are full of fire to fulfill all your life long dreams and quite another to be sent home at 10am with a “sorry but you just weren’t good enough” letter sticking out your back pocket.

Won’t lie. Felt pretty awful most days.

Anyway, I started feeding ravens. Trying to tame them to be exact. It’s not a big deal for me because this is just what I do – this is my life now. It all started after I read this article about an 8-year-old who had fed some ravens and inadvertently tamed them into being her pets/minions.

Where most people would read it and think “Aw – cute!” or “Hm, that’s really interesting”, I read it and think “Challenged. Accepted.”

Now we could break this down as me subconsciously having a bit of a break down, what with the whole “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life” and “I don’t even know what I want to do, but it doesn’t matter because no one wants to hire me anyway, not even Waitrose because my skill set isn’t refined enough. That’s where having a degree gets you.” So now I’m throwing myself into a menial task that represents the only form of control I have at the moment; and if I succeed makes me feel like I’m not a complete failure. Or maybe I just really want ravens to be my pets/minions and bring me offerings like some kind of avian deity. As well as form a living robe of awesome. helpfulraven

The moment that I laughed at myself and found this funny (because up until this point this was a very rational thing to be doing.) was when I was out meeting up with some friends and was introduced to some of their colleagues.

Usually I am a master of conversation, a guru of socializing and an utter delight that makes people wish to seek me out on Facebook and enter my court of friends. [I’m still unemployed don’t take this away from me.] However upon loosing my job and becoming an unemployed Snow White, my skills at conversing with new people seem to have become rusty. And by rusty I mean eroded to the point of non-existence.

It was going alright, conversation was relatively normal and I had been cautious not to say anything too strange and outlandish, until someone asked me what I was doing. They obviously meant what I did for a living. I still feel my answer was valid.

“Oh, well nothing much really – most of my day is spent feeding ravens in the park. They’re getting closer and even recognise me so I think I’m close to taming them.”

This was met by silence.

“Oh you meant a job? Yeah I’m unemployed right now.”

The conversation remained quiet for a bit and then someone very quickly started talking about the weather or public transportation – because this is what British people do when they have been met with an unpleasantly awkward situation and their rola-dex of appropriate responses is coming up blank.

I secretly laughed my head off at the whole situation. I had never said this out loud to people other than my friends, who understood my situation and knew I was actually an intelligent, normal human, so did not realise how utterly insane that sounded. Yup – I quit my job to pursue my life goals and having instead got myself fired from a cult and ended up being one trench-coat and a shopping trolley full of bags away from becoming a crazy drifter with an army of ravens.

Still a better love story than Twilight.

ravensrus

3

The 5 Stages of Being Fired

As quickly as the Job God giveth, the Job God taketh away

Yup.

I’ve been fired.

Or rather “let go”, “cut due to down sizing” or even better “we can’t afford someone of your capabilities. It has nothing to do with your work or work ethic.. we just can’t keep you”

This is equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, just give me the damn envelope already. Sheesh.

To be honest I wasn’t the biggest fan of this job, or this company, because it felt like a little cult. You were 1 minute late – verbal warning. Had a cynical thought about anything – verbal warning. Got up from your desk during “power hour”, was found eating during “power hour”, had a bodily function that needed addressing during “power hour”, and you got a stern bollocking. All that was missing was some comets and a punch bowl of Kool Aid.

But at the same time, it was my little cult. Sure the job was kind of boring and didn’t take any brain power, and let’s face it, I was going to be leaving soon anyways, but I wasn’t done with it yet.

The past three days have been a slow process of grieving, being dumped and then finally acceptance – because that’s what it was. I was dumped – the company I worked for broke up with me.

Stage 1 – Denial

At the time I felt fine, everyone else was downtrodden and offering me condolences; “this isn’t right” and “It just won’t be the same without you” – but they didn’t understand how happy I was.

I was free. I was going home at 10am! I didn’t have to work there anymore! I was able to move on with my life and achieve all my hopes and dreams.

Yes siree, I was fine, fine, fine! I was better then fine, I was amazing.

Then I’m sitting on the train home and I started to feel a bit numb and dazed. But still fine, still feeling good and unperturbed by the whole thing. Then got home and opened up my laptop to start finding another job, and instead took a nap.

After which I got up went to a rave (because that’s what you do when you get fired).

I have never woken up feeling more like a failure then when I woke up the next morning. My closest friends were already up and going for runs, studying and generally being productive. And I was still lying in my bed at midday, asleep and looking like I’d just gone through the digestive system of a glow worm.

Fine.

Maybe I was a little bothered by the situation. Just a tad.

They fired me! I was going to leave them because they were boring and un-supportive and suffocating; I was going to do it eventually, just – you know – when I found something else.

Stage 2 – Anger

I’m now starting to realise that I’m more annoyed that they fired me rather than I quit. The crappy job that a trained primate could do, let me go.

Now I have to go through the whole freaking process again. I have to look through countless ads, send in numerous applications, go to interview after interview trying to compete with all these other younger, smarter models and I hadn’t prepped myself for that.

Yeah. I’m kind of annoyed.

Stage 3 – Bargaining

Okay.

It’s okay. I just need to get started. Something else will come along, I don’t even need them. They were holding me back.

Day 2 consisted of me trying to organise myself, this usually involves a lot of lists. Whenever I get into a situation that starts to feel muddled or confused, or maybe I feel bad, I write up a list. Usually it starts with listing the things I need to do (i.e. shower, clean my room, vaccum, do some laundry,) basic things that I will feel good about crossing off.

Then I list the more complicated things – what kind of job do I want next, make a list of all the jobs I’ve applied to with the title and company name so that I know exactly who they are when they call (cause they’re definitely going to call.)

Maybe I’ll take this as a sign that I should start my career in baking!

Surely one of them will get back to me by Monday and I’ll be sorted.

Stage 4 – Depression

I had a bit of a busy weekend planned in any case, but I didn’t feel like going anywhere. I just wanted to stay in my room, look for jobs and wallow.

But I promised. And I might be fired but I’m still a good friend.

It was fun, and definitely a better alternative to wallowing in my own self-pity, but it had the added disadvantage of being a breeding ground for meeting new people. Which always comes with the question

“So what do you do?”

This is when all you can think is “why do I have to be defined by a job? what I do is not who I am!” – what kind of society do we live in that requires me to be labelled by a profession? I’m taking a stand against it and rejecting this way of living. Because I was fired, have no purpose and no one loves me. Did I answer your question? No?

I kept remembering little things about work and the people I worked with – it’s crazy the amount of inside jokes, laughs and attachment you can grow for people you’ve known for a month.

Very slowly, little by little, as the weekend passed and my body was telling me to get ready to go to work – work that I do not have. It’s okay internal body clock.. we don’t have to get up at 6 tomorrow. Mummy failed at life so you get to have a lie in.

I realised that I am a little bothered about the whole situation. Quite bothered by it. Maybe you could say upset, sad and displaced.

Stage 5 – Acceptance

Today is Monday – it’s been 3 days since the “incident” and I feel better. I got over this better than I did any break up, but it had only been a month; I wasn’t that invested in it.

Now I have my lists, my schedules, and am slowly developing a drive to find something else. This actually was the little nudge I needed.

Maybe pushed me out of the nest a tad early, but hey a push is a push. It’s only going to be a terrible, face-splattering fall if I don’t try.