Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Room 101

I'd say you wouldn't like me when I'm angry, but to be perfectly honest I am angry a significant portion of the day and as such clearly you either do like me when I'm angry, or we're not actually friends. Realising that recent happy-happy-joy-joy posts may give you, the reader, an unbalanced perspective on my nature, I'm bowing to popular pressure (okay, one person's pressure) and my own desires and listing the things that I would banish to Room 101, or would strike from the very face of the earth if I had the power to do so. And, god willing, one day I will. Ideally, one day I will be the God, but I try to keep my aims reasonable. Queen of the World will suffice.

Anyhoo, this is just the list of things I (currently) have no power to change. I do get angry at proper serious issues, too: I read Bad Science by Ben Goldacre and became pretty incandescent with rage; and I'm currently reading In Stitches by Dr Nick Edwards and it makes me want to march all the way to the Houses of Parliament and stand outside screaming, "You idiots, you fucking idiots, why can't you listen to NHS staff for a change?!". But these are things we all have (some) ability to change; we can write to our MPs, sign or create petitions, join protests, set up angry sciency blogs - we can make a difference, although it might be a small one and take ages to impliment any real change. But still. The things listed below, however, are things that, lacking the power to affect, enrage me all the more.

  • People getting in my way. This follows on from people who stop in doorways, and for the same essential reason. I have somewhere to be, places to see, people to do, and I want to be able to get there. I do not want some idiot cluttering up the pavement and slowing me down. I hate it when people stop in doorways, or at the top of escalators/stairs, or when they are trundling along the street at about one mile per year and also managing to take up the whole damned pavement so I can't even get past them. Hate it hate it hate it. Even when I was hobbling along on crutches with a broken ankle I was faster than the average Cardiff resident (and smarter than the av-er-age bear) and I feel the Facebook group I Secretly Want to Punch Slow-Walking People In the Back of the Head is my spiritual home. This hatred also applies to people who're serving very slowly at tills - I don't want to be in the queue for the rest of my natural life, thanks, so picking up the pace would really help me out.
  • People that inexplicably go to empty counters/tills. I saw this all the time back when I worked in a department store, and I see it now when shopping. There's a till with a person stood behind it in plain sight, not that far away, and yet some people will still meander blindly over to a counter where there are no people serving. This drives me crazy - why do they do it?! It's like when I'm stood waiting for an elevator and people come up, stand beside me, then push the button to call the elevator, like I'm some kind of moron who hadn't figured this out already. I may one day snap and thank them profusely for saving me from a potentially eternal wait for an elevator I didn't know how to summon.

  • Not getting my own way. I know this is infantile, I know it's (usually) very unreasonable, I know it's unfair - and I just don't care. If that God/Queen of World thing ever comes to pass, so help the rest of you because I will have the world revolving around me. And I'll probably become dissatisfied with that and end it all in a fiery apocalypse.
  • People who don't have their purse/wallet/bus pass ready when they get to the check-out/onto the bus. What, are you surprised they want money to finalise this transaction? Were you not expecting the driver to ask for your pass or payment? My rage is exacerbated a thousandfold if the person in question spends ten minutes digging through their bag/pockets to find their money, then starts counting out change...
  • Strangers getting in my personal space. Now, I recognise that at a concert or the like, they're hundreds if not thousands of people around and I will get bumped into and I accept this. But when strangers sit next to me on the bus or train, I don't want any part of them to touch any part of me. It makes me massively uncomfortable, as well as pissing me off. I've usually gone to extreme lengths to press myself as far away from them as possible - and there are some people in this world who then shift even closer to me to take up the space I just made. I want to push them away and start screaming, right in their faces. This also applies when people get too close to me in a queue - I edge forward so I don't have a stranger standing a really uncomfortably familiar distance from me, and they step forward. One day soon I will loose it, turn around and yell at them to just back the fuck away from me. I also get uncomfortable if strangers deliberately touch me: for example, if they pat my hand or arm. This usually happens with older, mostly female, borrowers at the library. I know they're just being friendly and nice, but I really don't like it and you'd think my pulling away from them would clue them in about this - but it doesn't. If I don't socialise with you, that means I don't want you in my personal space. Back off, buddy.
  • Losing. Sort of goes hand-in-hand with the getting my own way thing. I really, really hate to lose, to the extent that if I know I'm beaten before I begin, then I won't even play. And if I play and lose I want to tantrum. Like full-on, throw myself to the ground screaming and kicking my feet tantrum. I try and rein this in a little and usually end up just stropping off or sulking instead...
  • Repetitive noise. Ticking clocks, people who say or sing the same line over and over, dripping taps, car/house alarms - you get the picture. Within a very short period, the beating of the hideous heart becomes all I can hear, all I can focus on, until I want to just smash to pieces whatever is making the noise. Worst case offenders: back when I lived at my Mum's, her neighbour would leave his house at around 6am. He would start his motorbike ... then go back inside the house and put on his leathers. Leaving the engine running on the drive. All I dreamt of was kicking his bike over then smashing it up with a baseball bat. It drove me crazy. Then there was the woman who got on the bus and starting playing a massively irritating garage song on her mobile. When the song finished, she played it again. And then a third time. And then she started it up for a fourth time and I was actually getting up out of my seat to tell her to stop when, luckily for both of us, she got off the bus.
  • Valentine's Day.
  • Superman.

There's more that could go on this list - lots more. But these are the things I think it acceptable to tell the world about...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

I’m in an uncharacteristically positive mood of late, so I thought, while I can bring them to mind, I’d do a list of all the little things that make life worth living. Now, there is another, more, ahh, private list of things I enjoy – but if you don’t know what’s on that list, it’s because I don’t want you to. And because I don’t want to turn into some kind of creepy Belle Du Jour-type blogger, mentioning seeing condoms in the street and suspecting my neighbours might be running a brothel is as far as I’m prepared to go. In writing, anyway.

In no particular order:-

  • Family. They’re mostly crazy, to varying degrees: my dad’s side possess that ruthless competitive streak which manifests so clearly in me and my mum’s side carry grudges to (and beyond) the grave – but may the gods have mercy on any outsiders who try and attack us. I love them and love spending time with them – and love the inevitable slew of anecdotes I end up with after family visitations.
  • My friends. I seriously heart my friends, and difficult as I find it to admit real actual feelings, out loud, where people can find out about them and use them against me < / issues > I am happy to say I am my friends’ number one cheerleader and I love them all. I could cheerfully spend the rest of time sat in the pub with my friends: we’d play Jenga (or “Tension Tower”) and Trivial Pursuit and eat pub food, then we’d go dancing, then go back to someone’s house for tea and toast and more chat, and we’d wake up and watch bad TV and geeky box sets and films and then go back to the pub and the whole time we’d be laughing so hard our faces hurt and talking and quoting and I would for realz spend eternity in that contended little cycle if I could.
  • While I’m on the subject – the pub. I love the pub (one in particular, but I don’t want to encourage stalking so I shan’t mention it by name). It serves alcohol and there’s music and games behind the bar and it’s warm and dry and cosy and you can sit around and have a laugh with your friends, and it’s just … nice. Ohhh, and beer gardens on warm, sunny days! A rare treat in a country as notoriously cold and damp as this, but maybe that makes me appreciate beer-garden-afternoons all the more.
  • A nice cup of tea. As one of my Uni friends has illustrated via the medium of Facebook, A Cup of Tea Solves Everything. Can’t beat it.
  • Gingerbread lattes from Starbucks. I know, I know, I’m a corporate whore who’s contributing to the decline of independent traders. I don’t care. Gingerbread lattes, with whipped cream on top and some cinnamon sprinkled over, are the perfect combination of caffeine and sugar and god I love them. I have a crazed addiction to them – it’s probably for the best that they’re only available over the Christmas season (and better for my self-interest that “Christmas season”, to Starbucks, starts in November).
  • Popping the foil lid on coffee jars. It’s borderline weird, but I love doing this. The feel of the spoon going through the foil, the smell of the fresh coffee…Oddly satisfying.
  • Crunching through fallen leaves in autumn. C’mon, who doesn’t love this? Kicking them up is awesome – and I have to admit to kicking over my neighbour’s carefully swept-up pile of leaves this year. This may be why they hate me.
  • Walking over snow. It makes this great crunchy noise, plus, yay! Snow!! It’s the simple things.
  • When it’s cold and raining and miserable outside – and you can just stay indoors, cuddled up on the sofa under a nice warm blanket.

  • That moment when you wake up on a day off, and realise there’s nowhere you need to be and you can just cuddle up and go right back to sleep. I am also lazy to near-feline standards and can quite happily stay in bed until gone one o’clock in the afternoon if I don’t need to be anywhere.

  • Stretching. You wake up, or get up off the sofa, and stretch and it feels amazing.
  • Getting my own way. Really, this should be higher up the list. Okay, at the top of the list, but I’ve written this stream-of-consciousness stylee so that's what I'm sticking with. I am a massively spoiled only child (I was the only grandchild on my mum’s side of the family, and only grandchild on my dad’s side for the first nine years of my life – you don’t know from spoiled) and I do enjoy the satisfaction of getting my own way. My things, my toys, my games, my way, my choices, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine. Any time things do go my way, it feels both right and natural.
  • The cinema. I'm pretty sure my plethora of film references and quotations has made it clear by now, but I fucking love movies. Love them. And going to the cinema is one of my favourite things to do. I love the popcorn, and the huge screens, and the surround-sound played at such volume that you can feel your chair vibrate during loud scenes – I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the experience.

    …Except when my misanthropic nature kicks in and I find myself filled with burning hatred towards the people around me. I feel vindicated in my loathing if it’s directed towards sweary, noisy teens that are talking over the movie, but I’ve also been known to start fantasising about beating to death the person sitting next to me if they’re a “breather”. That is, someone who’s breathing is audible to me, even over the film. Or if they’re rustling food packets. Or they’ve brought smelly food in. Or it’s a couple being all kissy-kissy in my eye-line: if I wanted to watch a make-out session, I’d be at a very different kind of cinema. But apart from that, yay! Cinema!
  • It's indicative of my change in priorities recently that I didn't think to add this sooner: food. Om nom nom - food. I love food: cooking it is really rewarding, when you make a brilliant meal for yourself and some friends and everyone enjoys it and it's delicious and you know it was all your own hard work. Eating it is the best part, obviously, and I'm pretty sure Reese's Peanut-butter Cups were designed for me, personally, because they are so crazy-tasty to me. At least a third of my thinking-time is spent planning meals and wondering what and when I can eat next. And if ever I decide bollocks to it all and decide to just completely let myself go and eat my way into an early grave, my grotesque and tragic ending will be sponsored by Ben and Jerry's, Reese's, Domino's pizzas and Oreo cookies.
  • Looking at things that have been carefully tidying and organised. I admit, this is just flat-out crazy and I can picture the "oh god just back away from her slowly" look I would get from you if I told this to you in person, but I am borderline-compulsive and seeing things in careful order pleases me. My DVDs are arranged by colour and my books by genre, then sub-alphabetised; my clothes are also ordered by colour in my wardrobe; and my anxiety dreams frequently involve someone coming into my house and re-arranging my things. I just like order, okay?! Don't you judge me...

Well, that about wraps it up. I may add more if the mood strikes - and I'm already making a mental list of things that make me angry, as a counterbalance to all this positivity.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Am Reel Grown-Up, Srsly

I work part-time as a Youth Worker (get me and the responsibility), and a boy at Club recently said that I was not a "proper" grown-up because I'm not 30 or older. Now, while I can't (and don't want to) fault the boy's logic, it did feed in to my recent musings on whether or not I am actually a grown-up. On the one hand, I have been referred to several times in the past few weeks as a woman, rather than a girl (and when I was in Barcelona the waiters were referring to me as "senora" rather than "senorita". Ouch), I don't live with parents, I can legally buy booze, and I have proper jobs. On the other hand, I'm sat here in a Count Duckula hoodie, I don't own a house or car, I'm harbouring a not-so-secret desire to see The Princess and the Frog, and in defiance of assumptions based on my gender the thought of marriage sends me into a panic.

When people ask me if I'm married and/or have kids, I get a knee-jerk panic-y urge to laugh and exclaim that I'm too young - and then I get the cold, cold realisation that the fact I could be married with kids is a reasonable thing for a stranger to expect from me based on my age. And once I realise that, I get the urge to curl up into a ball making a high-pitched "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" sound until it all goes away. I've come around to the idea of a wedding (it's a day all about you, you gets loads of gifts, all your family and friends will be there and it's a one-off deal, they're unlikely to cancel on you they way they might on a birthday, everyone spends the day telling you how great you look, you choose all the songs that get played, your favourite food gets served, there's champagne, there's cake - what's not to like?) but the fact you'd have to be married after that day still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic things about being a grown-up (or at least on the way to being a proper grown-up), as follows:-

  • I can spend as long as I bloody want when choosing a tooth-brush. I realise how flat-out crazy this makes me sound, but I like choosing a tooth-brush based largely on colour and I spend anything up to half an hour finding one I really like. When I was a kid this drove my mum nuts and she'd always rush me, grab any old tooth-brush and drag me away from the stand, so now it's just me, my money and my time on the line, and I can spend it ny damned way I want, I spend it picking a tooth-brush that I like the look of.
  • Being what they call "sans parents": I can wander in and out of the house whenever I want, and unless I feel inclined to let my housemates know where I'm going I don't have to. Not having to answer to anyone but yourself is very liberating. Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly living a party lifestyle to rival Paris Hilton, but the fact that I could is great.
  • I cook for myself. Now, this is a bit of a double-edged sword because I fucking love having dinner made for me, but I am also a good cook and a very fussy eater. When cooking for myself (or doing the cooking for myself and others) I can be as fussy as I want and don't have to worry about putting people out. For example, I have to have carrots cut into lengths; in circles they cook quicker and get soft and I like my veg very al dente, so I don't like them that way. I also quite like the flavour of mushrooms and courgettes but hate their texture, so I have to cut them up really small to "hide" them in the rest of my food. And I don't like uncooked tomatoes. And I hate risotto. And I can't have whole cooked spinich leaves because I feel like I'm going to choke on them, they have to be cut up. And I could go on, but I think you get the idea by now.
  • The older I get and the more grown-up I get, the less I give a shit about what other people think of me. I mean I'll go to my grave working desperately for the love and acceptance of friends, family and those I like and/or respect - but strangers on the street? I increasingly think, aww, screw 'em. Back in my teen years I couldn't even leave the house without make-up - now I can at least head out for milk from the corner shop with no make-up and wearing a t-shirt I've slept in. And although I'm still massively judgemental about strangers in the street, I don't really care if people in the street are being massively judgemental about me in turn.
  • Money. I don't care about it for itself, but I sure do enjoy spending it. I usually spend it on DVDs and going to the movies and the pub and video games and over-priced make-up and, very rarely, clothes and shoes. Now I'm a grown-up living independent of my mother and answering to no one but myself, I don't have to justify my spending to anyone else. I've been earning my own money since I was 16 so I've not been reliant on 'rental fundage for over a decade now, but while still living under Mum's roof I did often end up having to defend purchases to her. Now my crazy crazy addiction to Benefit and Urban Decay doesn't need to be hidden or explained away; if I want to spend eleven bloody pounds on one bloody eyeshadow, it's my money and I can. So there.

The downside of being a grown-up is more of a cloud-to-the-silver-lining kind of deal. No one's responsible for my life but me; it's all my decisions and my choices and if I make stupid ones then I've no one to blame but myself. Also, bills and rent and living to a budget? It sucks. When I was a teen, if I spent everything I earned in one day and had literally nothing left until next pay-day, then blubs, it wasn't the end of the world, I didn't have anything that needed paying. Now if I spent my whole paycheck in HMV or something, then I'd end up homeless. Not so fun.

Still, apart from my occasional regressions (retro hoodie, going to Universal Studios for my birthday, kicking through piles of leaves, playing Lego Batman...) it's not that bad growing up. It's still scary to find myself involved in conversations about marriage and babies, though...Not getting over that fear anytime soon.

Monday, 1 March 2010

In Which Reality Folds In On Itself

I was at the cinema last Wednesday night, and read the following piece of graffiti:-
"I cryed at the last act of Be Kind Rewind".

And I cried for the future. She had the right idea, clearly -- but ultimately it's a case of close, but no cigar. I think this literary genius was surpassed by some teenage girls in work, though, who used the word "swored" in my hearing. I found myself not-quite-muttering, "It's 'swear' or 'swore'." They heard me (or could sense my seething rage at their open abuse, nay, assault, of the English language, I'm not sure which) and so questioned what I meant.

I explained that "swored" is not a word, and even if you were to attach the past-participle "ed" to the end of the word, then in this case it would be "sweared" anyway. They argued, refused to believe me, so I directed them to a dictionary. Naturally they had no idea where they were, which I can understand ... but they didn't seem to know how to use one initially, which was just ... well, words fail. Lucky for me, I can use a dictionary and a thesaurus, so I can confidently state that I found their ignorance appalling. Mostly because, seriously, who is teaching them..? But I digress. After some initial difficulty, they came to me with, ahem, "proof" that they were correct and I was wrong.

They showed me the word "sword". SWORD. SWORD. I feel like this signifies the end of reality as we know it even if Noel Edmonds dressed as God does not.

I know it's not just me that breaks down into a foaming-at-the-mouth fit of crazy-crazy rage at incidents like this, because Lynne Truss feels the same. What I don't know is if this validates my anger or just proves that I am not the only overly sensitive hate-fuelled self-proclaimed defender of the English language in existence.

Also, in the past two weeks I have ended up in three separate conversations about weddings (almost exclusively with girls who, like myself, have zero marriage prospects currently on the horizon -- I am unsure whether they, like me, just see weddings as a way to have a great big massive party in your honour) and two conversations about babies and children. Uhh, what the hell?! I've also been discussing the housing market, mortgages and buying houses, and fear these chats are all indicative of a wider malaise: I am officially growing up. *shudder*

Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go put on my Count Duckula hoodie and read a comics blog...