A Bonding Piece: 15 of my Personal Quirks and “Umbrella” Opinions

Now that we are getting into this blog thing (or at least, I am, though I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m just writing and writing reams of crap that are being read probably by one guy in boxer shorts with turkey-bits in his beard), I feel that it’s perhaps time you learned a little more about the woman behind the keyboard, vis a vis, moi.

I was conflicted about writing this on one hand because I am not so arrogant as to think that any of you care about the minor eccentricities of my life at all, but on the other I truly think that the best way to connect with a reader is to share your odd and ridiculous anecdotes so that we can relate to each other or, at the very least, you can laugh at my expense mockingly from behind a screen. In any case, hopefully it’ll provide you with some sort of happiness.

That’s right, this is a “bonding” article. Ha! Already if you’ve read the opening paragraph then it’s too late, you’re bonding with me as we speak. Just suck it up. Come on, admit it, you already love me.

1. I find it hard keeping to society’s expectations of women’s strict beauty regimens, though I try

Being a woman is really tough, and a large part of that is that, along with all the BULLSHIT you have to deal with as a female (periods, shoving babies out of small holes, the insulting advances of creepy men e.t.c.), there is also so much to remember. I’m sorry but it is SO HARD mustering up the gusto to shave my legs after every shower I take, particularly now it is currently WINTER and the second I step out of my boiling oasis it’s fucking freezing and I feel like I’m about to be unwittingly preserved in ice like Walt Disney. Not to mention that after an exhausting day at work the last thing that you want to do is perch precariously on the side of a bath and stare at your strange, nobbly limbs for hours, lest there be – shock and horror! – caterpillar fuzz around your ankles. My legs are not that interesting. Comedies are interesting. Scrutinising WTF Japan Seriously online is interesting. Hell, the ingredients of a bloody cabbage packet are more interesting than my legs.

Women are supposed to shave their legs, pluck their eyebrows, shave their armpits, apply body butter, moisturise their face, exfoliate their face, keep their hair neat and beautiful like Zooey Deschanel’s and always have smooth lips, keep on trend and always have a clear complexion. It is an exhausting amount of things to remember.

Men are probably sick of hearing this, but guys really do have it easy.

However, don’t confuse my finding it hard to keep up with all these womanly routines with not liking being womanly. I love the feeling of pride I get when I do shave my legs. It’s the same feeling I get when I eat three healthy meals in a day (with no snacks) or get told I’m a good or funny writer (often by my mum, though that in a way doesn’t count as she is forced by biological law to laugh appropriately at everything I say.) I also love wearing make-up, wearing deceptive bras that pretend I’m bustier than I am (oh come on, it’s not like you’re a saint) and putting on body butter (I might be a hairy-legged bastard but at least I’m a smooth one). I also really hate to smell, and I like making my hair nice (a nigh on impossible task though this is). And I am diligent in making sure that there is absolutely not one strand of hair growing from my face. I use my tweezers like ninja-knives.

2. My cooking history is one long faux-pas

Whenever I tell someone for the first time that I can do something, I end up being catastrophically bad at it every time in front of them. This has happened most commonly with cooking, though has also happened with telling my boyfriend that I can tell my left from my right. Which I CAN. Just never in front of him.

Things I have done in the kitchen after telling people that I can do them properly are:

  • Grilling cakes: I have been known to grill cakes. By accident, may I add. Needless to say, these were not successful as edible things, but have been very successful as humiliating stories that my peers bring it up time and time again. I am Grill Girl.
  • Setting fire to a packet of chili, which raged, unnoticed, for about a minute: Again, whilst attempting to cook for me and my boyfriend. The packet of chili slipped onto the gas fire and started burning away. We were all choking to death unknowingly for a bit until he saw it. And it nearly started an electrical fire. Pretty convinced that he’s decided I’m an idiot.
  • Making a birthday cake: One year I made an absolutely hideous pink cookie-cake contraption thing which was probably the worst thing I have ever baked for an event ever. It was so awful that my friend whose birthday it was came into my house and started ridiculing it, without prompt. I also dropped it on my driveway as we set off to go to his party and didn’t tell anyone and people still ate it. I would feel guilty but we all know about the five-second rule, and I’d only stared ruefully at it for about 3.5 seconds before scooping it back into the tin and covering it up again, my hideous progeny.
  • Cooking lunch for everyone: On one of my own birthday parties several years ago I promised to make all of my friends, who’d come over for a sleepover, lunch before they left. This ended up being a vat of Supernoodles of several flavours, which I threw into a cauldron and undercooked, an amateur witch, stirring her concoction with a wooden staff.

Conversely, the times where I haven’t given a flying fudge what I’m cooking, I can be pretty excellent at it. I know that I make the meanest English breakfast. I can also throw together a weird but delicious interpretation of French Toast, which me and my good friend Arron have simply named, “Egg”*. These anomalies have occurred when I really didn’t care what was happening OR when I was concentrating so hard on impressing somebody that there was literally no room for a mistake, meaning that:

  1. I have to make a dish which follows no rules whatsoever to make it great
  2. I have to follow a recipe to the absolute letter to pull it off. And absolutely do not open the oven door prematurely. And make sure that it’s in the oven, and not on the grill

Fortunately I am also quite a generous friend, so I hope that I make up for my failures in the kitchen by buying surprise co-op snacks and fancy coffees for people and by having a serious enthusiasm for take-outs.

*This creation will also, however, probably give you a cardiac arrest if you eat too many of them, being 90% cheese.

3. I am afraid of the following things

Buses with tinted windows, cars with tinted windows, trucks with tinted windows, spiders, people who stare at me for over two seconds (though I have no doubt that they are just zoning out, as is standard on the London commute – we all look like a bunch of over-tired, eclectically dressed deadpan zombies), planes, diseases, minor illnesses and ailments, David Hasselhoff, human trafficking, undercooking chicken and thereby successfully poisoning everyone (not a surprising one, considering my kitchen history), people not washing their hands, black holes, babies (they can SENSE FEAR), warped governmental plots (from years of feeding myself on Homeland and The X Files), accidentally flirting and the idea of people actually enjoying The Daily Mail.

4. I am not afraid of the following things

Nothing.

5. I hate Valentine’s Day – though I promise you, I’m not bitter

My hatred for Valentine’s Day is coupled with a hatred of the advertising industry. Valentine’s Day literally came OUT OF NOWHERE. No Jesus was born on that day. No Jesus was resurrected on that day. No thanks for harvest is given on that day. Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark to sell more cards, increase restaurant and florist profits and make people feel bad about themselves. It also promotes the idea that you sort of have a “get out of jail free” card if you’re a dick on every other day BUT Valentine’s Day, like Valentine’s Day is the only day on which you have to actively show your love or appreciation for your partner (along with the other major holidays.) For weeks we are subjected to newspapers, billboards and adverts telling you exactly what to buy, what are the “best” Valentine’s gifts, taking everything personal out of a relationship by encouraging the masses to buy the same, thoughtless red roses. 

And there are so many articles like “Alone This Valentine’s Day? Here’s How to Stop Feeling Sucky” and “Crying Into A Bottle Of Wine, But Don’t Worry – There’s Always Plentyoffish.com”. Why is being single equated to feelings of misery by the media!? The thing I hated the most to hear when I was single was “I can’t believe you don’t have a boyfriend, what’s going on?” I know that the people who said this were well-meaning, but I find this question very insulting for two reasons. One, it implies that if you don’t have a boyfriend but you’re a nice person, there’s got to be something wrong with you. Two, it implies that having a boyfriend should be one of your top priorities. Our society values couples above all else, which is sweet (in the sense that we live in a “love culture” of sorts) but also damaging, for those who are single are made to feel almost guilty by their single-ness, particularly when Valentine’s Day ticks by again. This is further ridiculous on considering that I received a constant barrage of this question when I was between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one (with the intermittent pause when I did have boyfriends.) Come ON, guys. If you haven’t met the love of your life by the time you’re eighteen, IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL. YOU HAVE SO MUCH TIME TO FIND THEM. And even if you don’t, or have no interest in shacking up, why should that be anyone else’s concern but your own? The constant pressure on society to find “The One” is only exemplified by rituals such as Valentine’s Day, which elevates the idea of “couple-dom” to such a level that those who are alone believe that they’re flawed, losing time in finding a partner or prioritising all of the wrong things.

So this is why I hate Valentine’s Day. You spend a load of money due to the pressures of capitalist advertising whilst poor social judgments are solidified. Even now that I have a lovely boyfriend, I would rather totally ignore him on Valentine’s Day and be super nice to him on every other day of the year. In fact, I’d rather give the average amount of pointless money spent on Valentine’s Day to Dog Trust or The British Heart Foundation or something, give it to something or someone who needs it.

6. I hate the fashion industry

I do not mean for us to “bond” by continuously talking about the things that I hate. However I am both a comic and a miser, a joker and an old bag. And this is my article, so you’re just going to have to get over it, I guess. Ha, ha!

Again, my hatred of this is within my hatred of the advertising industry (perhaps this should have just been a long list of reasons as to why I hate the advertising industry, but then again, Reasons to Hate The Advertising Industry is probably the title with which I’ll be selling my first autobiography. So much irony I can’t even deal.)

I don’t think that it’s wrong to have style or body goals, but since when does a panel of snooty, thin, bitchy men and women get to decide what these goals should be? It’s absolutely mad that some spaced-out guy is like “yeah, I think we should get everyone into ocean themes next year” and this simple, megalomaniacal decision encourages society to become crazed, grappling and fighting each other to put together the best mermaid ensemble. Even if they hate mermaids. Or spend a grand trying to look like one, when they could use that money to go on a huge holiday to Asia or something instead.

Also what about “fashionable” bodies!? I’m so confused about fashionable bodies. It’s like half of the world (the sane half) is just telling you to be the healthiest that you can be within your frame, which is a great message, the right message. But the other half trapezes between “loving the curvy look” and “loving the skinny look” and more recently “loving the skinny look with a massive arse hanging off of you”. If you don’t have a certain body type for a certain season, you’re screwed! You’ll feel bad about yourself for a month! You’re not part of the “fashion clique”, through no fault of your own! Surely we can all admit that fashion is taking it a bit far when they treat the idea of bodies like they would a piece of elastic – able to stretch in and out on accord, whenever the new season strikes.

I guess this point and the one above it can neatly be surmised in the statement that I really don’t like to be told what to think or how to look when it comes to product purchasing. If I want something, I’ll ask. 

7. I will buy an incredibly expensive bar of soap or spend a bomb at a restaurant, but will not fork out for a vital pair of tights or new glasses

This is true. I am a bit weird with money (though this is different from spending loads of money on Valentine’s Day or on fashion items, because I am weird with money when I choose to be, not when I’m told to.) I can walk into a restaurant and spend £40 on food, no problem. One time, me and my friend spent £75 on sleepover provisions (snacks, DVDs and wine). That didn’t bother me. Similarly, I spend ludicrous amounts of money in drugstores. I am probably single-handedly responsible for keeping the Boots franchise afloat.

But when it comes to “vitals”, I hate bringing out my wallet. Vitals are just so boring. I never buy jeans, if I can help it. I would rather wrestle a bear, bottomless, to win a bet for somebody else to buy me jeans (and am to some percentage willing to prove that. Any takers?)

Conversely I am quite afraid of buying things that I really like, like clothes and books, for fear that on doing so I will fall off the metaphorical bandwagon and awake in some groggy stupor, surrounded by the entire Divided section of H&M and thirteen copies of Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants. It is the same fear I get when I eat a cake or other sugared goods – the fear of unleashing The Beast.*

*Does anybody actually KNOW anyone who only eats a couple of biscuits from the packet and then puts it back? Or half a chocolate bar then puts it away? I genuinely have never met someone who wouldn’t make a conscientious effort to polish off the whole lot. You’ve got to finish what you’ve started, like the plot of basically every revenge film ever, except that you’re not really mad at anyone except for yourself after you’ve inhaled three thousand or so calories.

8. I am a true thespian

Critics have called me “a thespian of a very unique ilk”. Okay, that is a lie. I don’t technically have critics. But if I did have a critic, I’m pretty sure that this is what they would say.

In the past I have acted as:

  • A tree: My first memorable performance was as a tree in some play that I ironically cannot remember the name of. I was really proud of this role because I was dubbed by one of my teacher’s as “the most innovative tree”, because I got bored whilst standing on stage so flapped my arms around to amuse myself, which they had interpreted as me pretending that my arms were branches getting swept around in a breeze.
  • A French hen: In The Twelve Days of Christmas I played a French hen, and even had to sing a song. This role both thrilled and terrified me simultaneously as I felt like I was really becoming an Esteemed Actress, but at the same time I was terrified of singing in public. So of course, one of the French hens called in sick on the opening night so that there were only two of us, just to make it that liiiiiittle bit scarier. I think I pretty much mimed the whole thing. People still try and get me to sing The French Hen Song to this day, but I will never give in.
  • A person who nominates the new king of a nation and chooses to nominate a melon: In this play, I had one line, which was “A melon”. A very small role you might argue, but my character was the one who changed a nation’s future  by choosing its successor.
  • Laura from Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter: This is my proudest role to date as I actually did very well in it, probably because Laura is a nervous and anxious character who has a very posh voice and doesn’t have to sing, all things in which I excel at.

9. I wish I had a sexier voice

I would like one of those husky, sexy voices that some people seem to have and which I cannot get (though I understand that you can’t exactly just change your voice, like exchanging a pair of shoes or moving an email from your Trash to your Inbox.) I would like one of those sexy, alluring voices that suggest that maybe I nightlight as a jazz singer. I will never actually sing seriously in public, so nobody would need to know that this is a lie. It’s the perfect crime.

10. I think that being a “morning person” is a lie set up by gym CEO’s to make us feel guilty

Morning people do not exist. They simply do not. It is a lie, like McDonald’s salads being “healthy”. I have a friend who wakes up at 6am every day but I’m pretty convinced that she spends the first few hours in some sort of robotic coma, only awake in a technical sense. Otherwise, I don’t know how she does it.

11. I cannot go to sleep without listening to a comedy

This has become a very bad habit. I must learn how to go to sleep in some sort of zen-like Buddhist deep-meditation manner, in which total silence and darkness are peaceable, as opposed to terrifying and boring things.

12. I like to be alone, but only when there are people around

I am within a strange brand of sometimes-antisocial in that I do love to be alone, but only when there are other people there. Like, in the next room or something. I hate being alone alone, except on the occasions where I really just want to walk around the house naked or sing “Hash Pipe” by Weezer at the top of my voice. Other than that, I guess I’m pretty dependent. Just don’t leave me alone. Or if you must leave me alone, leave me a dog. Or a new puppy every time that you leave me, so that I can concentrate on my School of Dogs whilst you’re off gallivanting.

13. I treat everything as though it might be secretly alive

A.K.A., when I was at school I used to leave my backpack slightly open so that my pencil case could breathe.

14. I think water is disgusting

People get really mad when I say this. They’re like “How can you ‘hate’ water!? Everybody likes water!”

Everybody doesn’t like water.

Water is only good when it is really really really freezing cold, then it is lovely. Any other temperature and it tastes like liquid cabbage.

15. I get motion-sick playing free-roaming video games

This is a highly annoying, undesirable trait that I have picked up. However, a good side-effect of being this way is that I have developed a great love for side-scrolling platformers and building-strategy games as a result, both genres of which often have juuuust the right amount of story, artwork and twee-ness.

**

If anybody would like to send me some of their personal quirks/opinions, please do. I have a great anthropological curiosity for those who do slightly weird, OCD things. I feel like we are a community of sorts. 

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