Category Archives: Random

OMG, IUD – WTF?

So, on Monday, I had an IUD inserted.

For those who don’t know, an IUD stands for Intra-Uterine Device. It looks like this:

iud

IUDs found here

Basically, they put one of those things in your uterus to stop your uterus putting a baby in there instead.

Up until recently, I didn’t know a whole lot about IUDs. I remember them as one of the contraceptive options from sex education, but they were way down the list of recommendations. I didn’t (think) I knew anyone who had one. I think, in the 90’s, IUDs were pretty much only suggested to women who had already had babies. Because the baby has kind of already… well, cleared out an easy path through it’s mother, making it easier for any medical professional who might want to put something back into the uterus.

Ahem. Anyway. I’ve been a fairly happy user of condoms and, later, the pill for most of my life. I’ve never had any scary moments, despite my, let’s face it, pretty lax approach to taking the pill at a regular time of day (look, the back of the packet says I’ve got at least a 12 hour window before it’s considered a missed day, ok?) Recently, the fact that I’ve never had any problems has started making me worried that perhaps I’m actually infertile (as I explained to my bestie over summer: ‘Well, I’ve never even been a little bit pregnant, so that must mean I can’t get pregnant.’ Forgetting that pregnancy is pretty much a black and white issue and proving fertility doesn’t involve getting a tiny bit pregnant or six-thirteenths not pregnant. You’re pregnant or you’re not).

But, as I’m not yet willing to look after a child 24/7, I am still on the contraceptives.

Moving countries does make life difficult when you’re on the pill. In 2014, I was put on the generic UK pill, which seemed perfectly fine. I had no problems, just as, previously, I had no problems with the generic Australian pill. I got a 6 month supply before moving from the UK to Germany. When that supply started running out, I went to my German doctor and asked to get a new prescription. She couldn’t get me the exact pill as I had been on in the UK, but she could get me something as similar as possible. I agreed.

Despite it being ‘as similar as possible’, this pill wrought havoc with my body. My periods never used to cause me much trouble. Sure, I needed the occasional ibuprofen, a few hours with the trusty hot water bottle. But, suddenly, on the German pill, I found myself bedridden, trying to figure out ways of fixing a hot water bottle permanently to my lower abdomen, as well as chomping down as close to the maximum daily limit of ibuprofen as I could legitimately get away with. My flow got heavier and longer. My moods went haywire. In the days before my period I was suddenly depressed, irrationally irritated and just feeling completely wrong in my own skin.

Alex kept telling me to go to the doctor and get a different pill, but as things in between my periods seemed normal and as my doctor had said this was ‘the most similar’ to what I’d had in the UK, I was reluctant to make a fuss. What further horrors could await me with a different, less similar, pill?

But, earlier this year, I noticed a strange discolouration developing over my cheeks. It looked like I was permanently tanned on the area underneath my eyes. I was convinced it was skin cancer. My step-mum, however, told me it was ‘melasma’, something that happens when you are pregnant. She said it was probably related to the pill.

I don’t know why that did it for me, but that did it for me. I hated the look of my skin. I don’t really like wearing make-up, unless it’s a special occasion, and my skin has always been fairly good, meaning that I was certainly never made to feel that I should wear make-up. But, the discolouration made me look tired and old. It made my eyes look puffy. And I started getting paranoid. What else was the pill doing to my body that I couldn’t see? I started being more receptive to people warning about the dangers of pumping your body full of hormones.

But, if not the pill, and if not hormones, then what? The diaphragm seemed unnecessarily complicated and old-fashioned, spermicides can’t be used on their own. Condoms are fine, but they’re the most unreliable contraceptive method for preventing pregnancy (expect for, perhaps, the withdrawal method or the natural planning method), they’re kind of wasteful in terms of materials and expense, and, look, I’m just going to say it, they don’t feel as good (but that is certainly not an excuse to refuse to use them if your sexual partner wants you to, Douchebags of the World). What I’m saying is, condoms are fine. I just don’t want to be using them day in, day out (ha).

So, an IUD (or, the coil, as it is more commonly known) seemed to be my best option. They appear to be coming back into fashion, as they don’t require you to take a daily pill, they’re getting smaller and you can have them hormone-free, if you so desire (which is a thing that a lot of people are desiring). Plus, they are available to all women, even if you haven’t had a baby yet.

But, I didn’t actually know many people who had used one. I also wasn’t sure how to go about finding people who had used them. My usual recourse in this situation is to post on Facebook, but, because it was about contraceptives and uteruses (uteri?), I chickened out.  I talked to my doctor, who gave me the run-down of what needed to happen if I wanted one. Some STD tests, a half-hour appointment with the doctor and nurse. A bit of pain during the procedure (though they could give me a local anaesthetic if I wanted).  A bit of spotting to be expected afterwards, longer, more painful periods, but otherwise a reasonable choice for a young woman looking for a long-term option. I did some googling, but I didn’t really know what questions I should be asking in regards to the contraption. What was it that I wanted to know? I messaged my step-mum. What did she think about the IUD? She thought the only way I would figure out if I liked it was if I just tried it. They could always take it out.

So, on Monday, I had my appointment. I really hadn’t thought it through. Sure, I kept telling people I was having ‘minor surgery’, but I didn’t take on board the full impact of that term until I was half-naked on the table with my lady bits being spread apart by a speculum (hey, it looks like the beak of a duck! What fun! Except, it’s inside you!) At this point, I was struggling to keep my nerves in check due to the unwanted contemplation of what it might mean to have my uterus perforated (something that happens in a very small number of cases). So, when the doctor offered me a local, I was like, yes. Yes, numb it all. Numb everything. I don’t want to feel anything below my bra line.

It was still possible to feel the IUD inserted, even with the local. It felt like someone had poked a stick into the bottom of my stomach, except from inside my body. It was weird. I did not like it. The doctor cleaned me up and I saw her throw out swabs soaked in blood. I did not like that either. She took out the speculum and then offered me a sanitary pad, as I should expect some spotting. I gingerly put my clothes back on and stood up. Immediately, I could feel pressure in my uterus. I felt dizzy and weird and I really did not like that. The doctor said, yes, that’s just your body trying to get rid of the IUD.

I had stupidly cycled my bike to the doctor’s surgery. No-one had told me, or at least, hadn’t told me in a way that had made any impact on me, that I should expect to be feeling unwell, in pain or uncomfortable straight after the insertion. So, I got back on my bike and cycled extremely slowly home, making sure I avoided the biggest potholes and the bumpiest parts of the road. I am lucky nothing out of the ordinary happened, as I was in no way concentrating on the traffic. Just the feeling of my uterus contracting and trying, desperately, to get rid of the foreign body that had taken up residence inside it.

That first night was hellish. I was supposed to host a writer’s group and had to cancel. There was no way I was getting back on my bike, there was no way I was moving. I couldn’t eat. I had a hot water bottle attached to my stomach and was taking the maximum dose of ibuprofen every few hours. It didn’t take the cramping away, but did make the cramping bearable, as opposed to cramping that made me cry hysterically. Usually, during a period, you can find positions that help your cramping – the foetal position, for example, or lying on your back with your knees bent. None of these positions did anything for my uterus. Every time I moved, I was certain I could feel the IUD sticking out of various parts of my body. In my mind, the IUD was now about as big and as pointy as a corkscrew. I kept expecting to see it pushing out against the skin of my abdomen.

And, spotting? Yeah, sounds adorable and non-threatening, doesn’t it? Like, that song you sang as a kid, ‘there’s a spot over there’ and you’d put a tiny little spot in the air with your tiny little finger. No, it’s more like, unexpected and terrifying gushing. Not all the time, of course (that would definitely require a trip to the doctor), but just, occasionally. When you shift in your chair. Or stand up. And, it’s just this reminder that there is something in your body that is not meant to be there and that your body DOES NOT LIKE IT and is constantly trying to flush it out. Every time it happens and I have to clean myself up, I get all weak and jittery. Which is not because of the amount of blood that I’m losing, but definitely is because losing blood unexpectedly, from that area, is scary. It doesn’t seem right. My instant reaction is… oh, god, I’m breaking. I’m breaking apart.

I’ve been hobbling around the house, not able to do anything too fast (like run) or anything too bumpy (like ride my bike, or get on a bus), first of all, because I’m worried that I’ll dislodge the IUD (unlikely) and second of all, because I still feel totally weird and weak. I keep getting worried that I have a pelvic inflammatory disease (very small chance, considering I had no STD’s) and occasionally freak out that because I am feeling weird, I must be dying. I realised yesterday that I kept attributing things that often happen to me in my normal life because of stress or, you know, anxiety (dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, overheating) to the IUD, so what with the cramping and then the extra list of anxiety-based symptoms, it really did seem like I must be desperately unwell. I also keep getting weird urges to just rip the IUD out of my body. I think it’s due to the fact that the only thing my brain can compare this to is a tampon, and there’s a time limit on those things – you have to get them out at some point or you’ll get sick. So part of my brain keeps bringing this up in regards to the IUD – oh, quick, you’ve forgotten to take it out, get it out now before you get sick.

You may be thinking that I’m building up to some kind of, ‘And then, I had enough of all this shit and insisted the doctor take the foreign body out of me before things started getting worse.’ But, no. That is not what has happened. Because, all of these side effects that I am experiencing are normal. NORMAL. They are expected. They are also (slowly) getting better. I haven’t cried due to cramping since Monday night. I’ve started talking to others who have the IUD and the stories they tell are kind of terrifying (I’m getting off easy). A colleague was bedridden for a week. She threw up immediately after the insertion and then fainted. She still has hers and loves it. Loves it! Of course,  just to keep things in perspective, I’m also reading terrifying stories from the internet like, ‘My IUD almost killed me’. Good! The doctor warned me on Monday that if I came back after a week and asked to have the IUD removed, she’d probably ask me to keep trying with it for a bit longer. Usually, doctors say you need 3 – 6 months before your body is properly used to it. That could mean, 3 – 6 MONTHS MORE OF THIS SHIT.

There are lots of questions I have now, after the insertion. Suddenly, having gone through the process, I’m quite aware of the things that I’m worried about. I’m vegetarian, what are the chances I become anaemic with all this extra bleeding? If I’m only intending to keep my IUD for about 3 years and it takes a maximum of 6 months to get used to the thing, is it actually worth it? What is the difference between cramping and the ‘lower abdomen pain’ that signals a pelvic inflammatory disease? (seriously, uterus cramping is all in the lower abdomen, that is not a good description of what to look out for) How much spotting/gushing is too much spotting/gushing?

I’m not angry. I’m not demanding that the IUD get taken out immediately, that it’s a hazard, that it’s unnatural and unhealthy (but I can certainly understand why people feel like that after having it inserted, this shit is SCARY). But I am absolutely gobsmacked about what women have to go through to reliably avoid becoming pregnant. All this, just for worry-free sex! (Believe me, after the insertion, I am in no mood for sexy times. Perhaps this is the real contraceptive benefit?) In sex ed, teachers were all, ‘you have so many options! Look at all your lovely contraceptive options!’ Whereas, in reality, every single one has some kind of down-side. And, the most reliable forms definitely involve the woman enduring some sort of invasive, uncomfortable, mind or body altering thing.

If everything works out and my symptoms improve, I’m sure I’ll get used to having something alien in my uterus. But, in the meantime, the whole thing is totally weird and completely f***ed up.

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Reading Deprivation

To fill up my spare hours and to save me from going crazy with the organisation of yet another country move (this is the 4th country move I’ve done in 6 years. Or the 6th city move in 6 years. I think I might need help), I am currently working my way through a book called ‘The Artist’s Way.’ It’s a book that’s meant to help ‘blocked creatives’ (I really, really, really have to work hard at not sneering at that phrase) get past whatever is getting in the way of them making work. There’s all sorts of activities that you do, but the most important are the ‘morning pages’ and the weekly artist’s date. The morning pages are three full pages of writing that you do in the morning time – you get out whatever crap is in your head, or stressing you out and write it down and try to work through it. It’s like a free-form, flow of consciousness diary, I guess. The artist’s date is just doing something every week that is just for you, whatever takes your fancy. So far, I have had an excursion to a falling-down 19th century sanatorium, bought silly stamps at the craft stall, painted ceramics and… this week’s has not yet happened.

I bought the book in Bandon, Ireland (5 moves ago) and started it then, but never made any headway. I think I read the first chapter. This time, I’m being really diligent. It helps that I’m not employed, I guess. Every Wednesday, I read my chapter and then I copy the weekly activities into a little exercise book that I decorated. And when I do my activity, I get a little owl stamp that says ‘Sehr Schön’ on it. I figured it would appeal to the obsessive compulsive child that I am, deep down in my heart. So far, it’s worked very well.

Anyway. The big activity for this week is called ‘Reading Deprivation’. When I first read the phrase, I thought it meant it was going to address the fact that I had been depriving myself of reading and we were going to fix it and I was going to read all the things.

read-all-the-things

ALL THE THINGS! Found here

Of course, it’s the opposite. You’re supposed to deprive yourself of reading all the things. In fact, you are banned, BANNED, from reading anything. ANYTHING.

As I read (ha!) through what I was supposed to do, a genuine feeling of dread crept up on me. How exactly was I supposed to do this? How was I supposed to get all the things done that I needed to get done without reading? The first thing I do every morning (and this is… sad, I grant you) is reach for my computer and check email and check Facebook. I’d like to blame the habit on being in a different country from my family and many friends, but, let’s be honest here. I’d probably do it if I’d never left Australia too.

I had lots of questions about the reading deprivation. Was I allowed to read signs? Recipes? Information on the back of drug packets? Every time I needed to look something up, did I need to get Alex to read it on my behalf and then tell me the salient points? What if he read it wrong? Could I read things that I, myself, had written? Or was I only allowed to write texts and emails and send them into the world with whatever predictive text had decided I wanted to say? Is everyone who ever sent an amusingly suggestive text with a strange predictive text word substitution all doing this reading deprivation activity?? The book did not answer these, or really any, of my questions. In fact, the book is quite vague on most of the details. The author tells us that she’s often called crazy for this particular exercise, there’s always someone who says they can’t do what she’s told them to do. And then they all end up doing it. But, but, but… HOW do they end up doing it? Not everyone is unemployed! How do teachers get away with not reading things for an entire work? Are you allowed to read things if you’re being paid to read them? Where does the ‘no reading’ ban end? What happens if I briefly glance over the toiletries in the shower and my brain accidentally comprehends the word ‘shampoo’? Did I read it? Is the exercise over then? Do I have to start again? Should I just walk through the world with my eyes closed for a week?

I’m beginning to think she left it deliberately vague so that you can make your own mind up about what really is essential reading and what you can do without. That’s my decision, anyway. So, I’ve come up with a few of my own rules. For example, the book was originally written in 1992 and the version I have was re-printed in 2002. So, well before communications were radically altered through social media and text message. So, in the end, I decided that I was allowed to continue reading basic communication texts – things that might have been, back in the day, a phone call – because otherwise life would get really difficult. I’ve also allowed myself to read things online for basic information. For example, Alex and I want to go kayaking tomorrow. I had to research where the kayak rental was. That involved reading websites and I decided that was ok.

You may have also noticed that I’m still updating Facebook. Well, I’m allowed to write. So, I figure, posting on Facebook is ok and responding to people commenting on my post is ok, but scrolling mindlessly through my News Feed is a definite no-no.

Even with these, fairly generous, rules in place, the no reading thing has been difficult and frustrating. It’s also been eye-opening. The amount of hours I spend on the computer just waiting for something to distract me, not even entertain me, just distract me, is kind of terrifying. I’ve gotten into a habit of having the computer open at all times, so that whenever I’m reading or watching something and there’s a reference I don’t get, or there’s a song that I recognise but can’t remember why, I immediately get on the computer to look it up. Sure, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal. But, stopping doing it as made me realise how easily distracted I actually am. Sitting down and really focusing on something and committing to not being distracted is actually hard work. That’s why I love reading on the UBahn, or going to the cinema – it’s easier to not be distracted from a movie or a book when I’m not at home, with easy access to the internet. Somewhere down the line, I turned into those dogs from Up and didn’t even notice and also willingly participated in the transformation.

squirrel

Squirrel found here

It’s made me think about lots of things. And not all of them are anti-internet. Like, how did I get information before the internet? I was still a kid, so a lot of the time I just asked my Dad and he knew. I looked up things in our massive Oxford English Dictionary, which was fine for words and things, but not so much for people. I looked things up in my Dad’s old high school Encyclopaedia, but as it was from the 60s, most of the time I did it for laughs and to see people still referring to Russia as the U.S.S.R. There was a reference section of our high school library, where some librarian had carefully cut out newspaper or magazine articles and arranged them alphabetically by subject in horizontal files: Peron, Eva; Peron, Juan. I wonder what happened to all those files. That I now have access to the answer to almost any question I could possibly have is pretty amazing. That I mostly use it to find out what others films a familiar looking actor was in is possibly a waste. That I look up the information and then immediately forget it is probably unsurprising. That not being able to look up the answer to every random question that goes through my brain over the past few days hasn’t resulted in my brain exploding or the end of the world is also telling.

I’ve also discovered I have SO MUCH free time. I know I am currently unemployed, which certainly helps the free time. But, seriously. I can’t think of enough things to do during the day. I’ve actually written myself a list called, ‘Things I Like Doing’ so that if I get bored, I don’t panic and decide there is nothing else to do ever, ever, I’ll be bored forever. I’ve been saying a lot over the past few months that I ‘don’t know what I like anymore’. But part of it was that I just wasn’t bothering to think of things that I liked anymore. I’d come home from work tired and instead of going to the effort of thinking of something I might like to do, I would immediately open the computer and ‘zone out’ for an hour. Hour and a half. Two hours. It was boring. It was frustrating. It was numbing. But as long as things kept changing online there was at least distraction. There was at least something to do. I didn’t have to think too hard and come up with something I might actually like to spend my time doing.

My anxiety levels have also been through the roof over the past two years. I mean, I know, I’ve always been an anxious person. But, there’s been a steady increase over the last little while. And I think part of it has been this underlying feeling that I should always be ‘doing something.’ And, again, online, it is actually possible to always be doing ‘something’. It may or may not be worthwhile ‘something’, but it is, at least, a ‘something’. It might be watching a cat push a dog into a pool (that would be awesome, though, wouldn’t it?) or it might be an 8 page profile of Angela Merkel. But there’s always ‘something’ to do. I find myself going, ‘I’ll just read this and then I’m finished.’ ‘I’ll just watch this and then I’m finished.’ But it never ends, there’s always more clicks, there’s always more suggestions. What exactly did the cat video add to my life? It gave me a cheap laugh, I suppose and we do sometimes need cheap laughs. But if it ends in an hour long cycle of cheap laughs, it’s probably gone on too long. In the last two days, I have, twice, made myself a cup of tea, opened the doors of my balcony and stared at the sky for a good 45 minutes to an hour. I used to love doing things like that. But, I just kind of forgot about it. Because it seemed boring. Because it wasn’t ‘something’. Because it wasn’t as quickly diverting as jumping online.

The whole point of the ‘reading deprivation’ exercise is to stop filling yourself up with things that other people have written or created and start making space to write your own things. I didn’t think it would work. I didn’t think it would work that quickly. But, seriously. When you’ve suddenly got an entire empty afternoon stretching out in front of you and no ability to spend it staring at other people’s lives on Facebook, or even, getting out a new novel and devouring it hour after hour – why not write something? It doesn’t even have to be a good something. It just has to be a something. Because, no matter how relaxing it is to stare at the clouds for an hour, eventually you’re going to get bored. You’re going to get lonely. You’re going to start feeling some things and you’re going to want to deal with those things.

I do hate people who get all ‘holier than thou’, especially when it comes to the internet and mobile phones (ah, the irony of a video, telling you to look up from your mobile, packaged as clickbait), but the last few days have been a goddamn revelation. I knew I spent too much time online and I knew I hated it. But suddenly banning myself from being unproductively online has made me realise just how much time I spend there, how much I don’t enjoy it and all the things I could possibly be doing if I wasn’t on the goddamn internet. I’m not saying I want to go back to the days when I wasn’t able to find out what ‘AIDS’ was by looking in my dad’s 1960s schoolboy encyclopaedia. But, I’m also saying that I want to make sure that the things I do online are done with purpose, have an end point and are an asset to my broader life, instead of an endless cycle of sponsored clicks.

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Filed under Introspection, learning, Random, Theatre, Unemployment

The Dress

If you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, you’ll know that A. and I recently made a pretty big life decision, one which involves at least one ring, but does not concern the fate of Middle Earth.

(As a side note, FB friends probably also know A.’s real name and realise how boring a moniker I’ve given him (you may notice it’s boringness even without being a FB friend). He’s actually demanded a new one, something along the lines of Lord-High-and-Mighty-the-Intelligent- Handsome-and-Great, but it’s too late now, I didn’t know at the time (sometime last year) how potentially important he might be in the story of this blog, and he has his boring moniker and I’m sticking to it.)

Anyways, getting back to the point, as a consequence of this major life decision, which we will refrain from naming by name (and not because we are scared of it – though we are scared of the targeted advertising, which is somehow yet to find us), I have been searching for a dress. No, wait, not just, ‘a’ dress.

THE Dress. The Dress of My Lifetime. The Dress of My Dreams. The Only Dress That Ever Was and Will Ever Be.

See, I thought I was just buying a nice dress to wear on a nice day of my life. But that is WRONG. There is a ‘Cult of The Dress’ out there, and they have RULES. RULES THAT MUST BE OBEYED. Perhaps even more disturbingly is how many of these rules I have internalised and am sub-consciously attempting to fulfil when looking for my own dress. GET OUT OF MY BRAIN, HIVE MIND!

1) THE RULE OF TEARS

When you put on ‘The Dress’ you will start to cry. Your friends and family (who you have, of course, brought along for this momentous moment) will start to cry. The sales assistants in the shop will start to cry. EVERYONE THAT CATCHES THE SMALLEST GLIMPSE OF YOU IN ‘THE DRESS’ , INCLUDING STRANGERS AND STRAY CITY PIGEONS PECKING AT LEFTOVER CHICKEN OUTSIDE THE SHOP WINDOW, MUST IMMEDIATELY START TO CRY, OR IT IS NOT ‘THE DRESS’. Look, basically, if everyone in the world isn’t being swept away on a sea of tears, brought into existence simply by the beauty of you in your dress, then you can take off the gown comfortable in the knowledge that whatever boring, everyday taffeta nightmare you just tried on was not ‘THE DRESS’. If the bridal store doesn’t look like that water scene from Alice in Wonderland, then take off the dress. It’s not for you. Maybe it’s for someone else. But not for you.

How your bridal store should look. Found at: https://happeningsonchaosranch.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/postcards-to-share/

How your bridal store should look. Less animals, possibly. Found at: https://happeningsonchaosranch.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/postcards-to-share/

2) THE RULE OF WHITE

Wedding dresses are white. Or creme. Or pearl. Or beige, biscuit, sand, mushroom, eggshell, taupe, off-white, fawn, neutral or whatever other synonym you can come up with that means ‘sort of white’. Otherwise, how does anyone know you are getting married? How do YOU know you are getting married? What if you turned up to the church/temple/mosque/town hall and SUDDENLY FORGOT what you were there for and went home again without getting married??? HOW DREADFUL WOULD THAT BE???? Best get a shade of white just to make sure everyone, most of all you, knows what is happening.

3) THE RULE OF SPECIAL

Wedding dresses are special. It’s a special day. You’ll know it’s a wedding dress because the price tag will incorporate it’s specialness. The size of the dress should also indicate it’s specialness and the bizarre shape, practical for no useful activity (such as breathing, eating or walking) should indicate it’s specialness and, of course, the number of diamantes you’ve managed to squish on the bodice will indicate it’s specialness. It should be so special that you’ll never, ever be able to wear it ever again without having interactions that start: ‘Hey, isn’t that a wedding dress? Oh, no, I’m not judging, it’s just, well…. it’s nice and all, but why exactly did you decide to wear it for a mountain bike ride?’ This dress SHOULD be the most expensive and most impractical dress you have ever, and will ever buy, and if that way of thinking ends up with you, on your special day looking like one of those dolls that sat on top of your grandmother’s toilet rolls, then SO BE IT. REVEL in your specialness! REVEL in your obscene amounts of taffeta! REVEL!

4) THE RULE OF YOU

Who are you? What would you say your personality is? Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Romantic? Modern-Woman? Girl Next Door? I’ll wait here while you go do some Buzzfeed personality quizzes, if you like. Worked it out? Great. Now, I want you to describe that personality to me AS A DRESS. Do you have a tea-length personality? Or are you more of a ‘dramatic train’ kinda gal? If you don’t know what your personality is, was, and always will be, then I can’t help you buy a dress. Don’t forget. There’s only ever ONE dress for ONE woman and if you can’t sum up your entire life history, personality, likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams into that one, single dress, then nobody is going to cry, or even really care, when you say ‘I do’. I guarantee it (don’t think you’ll get out of this question by having a reception dress as well as a ceremony dress – that’s just cheating and everyone knows you’re a weird fence-sitter and possibly sociopath who can’t make up their mind about their own personality. MAKE UP YOUR MIND)

5) THE RULE OF PHOTOS

Will it look good in the photos? Will you look thin in the photos? Will you have a nice bum in the photos? Will you have good cleavage in the photos whilst also still looking thin? Will you look both sexy and demure in the photos? Will you like the photos when you look back at them in a year’s time? 5 year’s time? 60 year’s time? WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE PHOTOS??

6) THE RULE OF THE THEME

Don’t get married out of context. If you’re getting married on a beach, you can’t ALSO have a ball gown. Like, obviously. I mean, you wear pink on Wednesdays but you can only wear track pants on Friday. Don’t confuse people! If you were wearing pink tracksuits on a Tuesday, people would be like, ‘Oh, god, wait! What day is it? What’s happening? Who am I? I seem to be in some sort of extended Mean Girls metaphor! Quick, get me out!’ That’s how people will feel at your wedding if you get married in a ball gown on the beach. The space-time continuum will collapse and life as we know it will disappear. It’s pretty simple: you work out your personality and then you work out your theme and then you work out your dress. Otherwise you’ll be like that girl I saw on the second-hand dress website who had to sell her unworn, $6000 wedding dress because it ‘no longer fit the theme of her wedding.’ Amateur.

Oh, pink! It’s Wednesday then. Phew. Now I understand. Found at: http://allmyroads.com/tag/we-wear-pink-gifs/

7) THE RULE OF PRINCESSES

All women on their special day must feel like and/or be treated like and/or be a princess. Never wanted to be a princess? Too bad. Should have thought of that before you decided to get married. Whilst this is definitely a rule, it seems a little amorphous, to be honest. Maybe I’ll understand it more after my big day. Should everyone stop referring to you by your first name and only address you as ‘Your Highness’ for the duration of the ceremony? Does everyone need to curtesy whenever they see you? Should you develop a sudden and passionate interest in polo matches and ridiculous hats just for your wedding? Perhaps you have to incorporate some kind of coronation for your mother and father during your wedding ceremony just to ensure the legalities of being a princess are all in order and up to scratch?

CONCLUSION

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m coping really well with the search for the dress and am in no way stressed or overreacting or hyperbolising. And I most definitely did not go into a Vintage Store on Monday, hide my engagement ring in my wallet, and then tell the woman in the store that I was looking for a dress to wear to my friend’s wedding just because I couldn’t handle her possibly bringing up all rules of the dress and force me out of the store wearing this:

With that facial expression, also.

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Filed under Berlin, Random, Wedding

10 Things Miss Marple Has Taught Me

1. Just because you didn’t get married or have children doesn’t mean you have to have a boring spinsterhood. Miss Marple is a bad-ass feminist and also, she is alive. See, falling in love usually ends in murder. DON’T GET MARRIED OR HAVE CHILDREN, ONE OF THEM WILL END UP MURDERING YOU.

2. If someone mysteriously invites you to a retreat in a mansion with a bunch of other people you don’t know, don’t go. This also goes for package tours. Inevitably, you’ll all end up being strangely and dramatically connected and one of you will end up dead or accused of murder, or both. It’s not worth it. Buy your own holidays and sleep soundly at night.

3. Don’t trust the nanny. Or the charming man. Or the prettiest woman. Definitely don’t trust the nun. DON’T TRUST THE PEOPLE YOU WANT TO TRUST, THEY’RE ALWAYS THE MURDERER.

4. Knitting is an excellent activity that stimulates ideas. It’s not boring women’s work, it’s CRIME-SOLVING work.

5. There’s nothing stopping a poor orphaned girl from becoming a success in life. All the girl need do is to spend some time as a maid in Miss Marple’s household and learn that it isn’t done to read other people’s letters or to break the china whilst dusting. Also, she must learn that one shouldn’t gossip too loudly in public about THINGS ONE KNOWS in case a murderer is listening and gets anxious. An anxious murderer is an active murderer. The girl who gossips too loudly is the one who gets her neck snapped. DON’T GOSSIP, IT WILL KILL YOU.

Miss Marple. The awesomest old lady in the whole wide world.

Miss Marple. The awesomest old lady in the whole wide world.

6. On the other hand, gossip is, confusingly, essential to solving all murder cases. As is eavesdropping. As is forcing yourself on to people that don’t really want to hang out with you.

7. Circumstantial evidence is pretty much always faked. The only satisfying ending is one that involves a full and emotional confession from the murderer in the company of everyone still lucky enough to be alive.

8. Policemen are universally doofuses. It’s because they’re men and they don’t knit. One must help them through their inconvenient idiocy, and only listen to them when they are saying the same thing as you.

9. Things might seem supernatural to begin with, but that’s just because you’re an emotional hysteric and not a clear-eyed, steady-handed logic like Miss Marple. Alive humans are ALWAYS the murderer. (Unless they’ve been killed since they committed the murder, which is usually not the case, because it would interfere with the full & emotional confession demanded by No. 7)

10. If someone’s reading/listening/watching ‘Macbeth’, someone connected to them is going to be murdered. Or, maybe has already been murdered. Also applies to other classic tragedies, such as ‘The Duchess of Malfi’. DON’T WATCH TRAGIC VERSE DRAMAS, IT LEADS TO MURDER.

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Alex told me…

That my clothes

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.48

weren’t so much

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.40

‘clothes’

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.38 #2

as ‘costumes’.

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.33 #2

……

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.31 #3

I have *literally*

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.29

no idea

Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.24 #2

what
Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.18 #2

he is talking about
Photo on 2014-02-11 at 14.51 #3

??????

(I should be writing)

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The Thing

Also, I found this on my hard drive last night and I enjoyed it. SO NOW YOU WILL ENJOY IT ALSO.

 

Here is a thing.

Not much. It’s just a thing.

It has bright colours and if you hold it against your face, that feels nice.

It looks pretty and your friends will like it.

It might not be strictly necessary, but it is vitally important.

This thing may not look like much, but that is the amazingness of the thing.

The thing keeps the world revolving. The thing keeps the sun in the sky and the water in the ocean and the birds singing their little songs in the trees.

That is the secret of the thing.

Other things it can do, is sit on your shelf. Or on your floor, or tucked away in your cupboard. It’s really up to you, is what I’m trying to say. Once the thing belongs to you, then you can do what you like with it.

The thing is interesting and unique. It will tell other people you are interesting and unique. At least as interesting and unique as the other people who have the thing. And, in the big scheme of things, that is pretty interesting and unique.

The thing has magic powers. It will cause you to lose weight and have a nicer nose and get better hair. It will show you how to dress properly and how to flirt with that attractive person you have your eye on.

The simple fact of the matter is that your whole life will get better if you have the thing. That’s a guarantee.

And the good news is that you too can have the thing. The thing is for everybody. Not just anybody, you understand, but if you want it enough, if you work for it and save for it and dream for it, the thing can be yours as well.

The other good news is that it really is a bargain for the price. When you think about value for money, about what this thing can do, what it has the potential to do, then I know that what we’re asking will seem reasonable. It costs a little bit of money. And a bit of self-esteem. Perhaps some hopes and dreams and part of your children’s future and their children’s future.

But, really look at the thing. Really consider it and it’s potential. I know you’ll come to the same conclusion I came to.

The thing really is the most necessary thing in the world.

 

 

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Filed under Introspection, Random

Soho as a Person

I had to write this for an application. And, look, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty pleased with it. Who knows if that means the application will go well or not, but in the meantime, you lucky people get to read it.

Also, you might have noticed I’m struggling to write things at the moment (ANY of the things), so I figured I should share WHATEVER THE HELL I HAD.

So, anyways, here it is. Soho as a person.

 

In her younger years,

Her voice was like a knife that cut through the darkness,

Because she only woke in darkness

And she didn’t talk, she screamed.

 

Even now,

When those around her are nestled in floral pastels,

Sagged in softly collapsed settees,

Their wrinkled fingers wrapped around waning cups of tea,

She has a penchant for sharp lights and sharper sounds:

Seeks them out and lets them cut her.

She likes the prettiness of glitter,

Not for its delicacy,

But for the hard edges of the sparkles and

The hidden pricks of corners that catch under your fingernails.

 

She has had a hundred lovers,

A thousand,

So many that it would take a lifetime to think back and speak their names aloud,

One after the other,

With the significance that each deserves.

(She takes a quiet pride in not favouring a ‘type’,

Because,

‘Oh, how boring,’ she’d sigh on perfumed breath,

Chin sinking towards her flattened palm and eyes rolling heavenwards).

She coaxes them still:

men, women, young, old,

The endearingly hopeful and the quietly crushed,

Her alternating faces the siren’s call making

Each new devotee feel at home.

And each new one thinks they know her

Deeply and completely

Intimately and concretely

But each is wrong

Because what one person could see

All of her at once and not be consumed by confusion?

 

Her single constant is the

Blood red still clinging to her lips,

Which on other women might cause mutters of,

‘Mutton’ and ‘lamb’,

But on her looks correct,

‘Proper’

As if she was dragged into this world so garish and so gory

(and she probably was, if anyone was left that could remember back that far)

 

But, careful.

She is not just the aging party girl,

The one whose diamonds are cut glass,

And whose bronze and blonde colourings are stored in bottles.

Yes, she knows all the people you see in the magazines,

The shiny-teethed smilers from the telly.

The gods and goddesses of the silver screen,

Are regular guests, pressing their cold hands into her warm one.

But this old bird has seen things and done things,

Felt thing and said things

You wouldn’t dare face in your nightmares:

Heaving, disintegrating green-grey houses,

Sunken-eyed and leaking corpses,

A pregnant woman pierced with nails,

Are all images she tries daily to forget.

So if she spends her time now

Winking at the young and the witty,

Flattering the powerful and the beautiful,

Seeking out the rich and the stylish

Well, then, who can blame her?

She’s had her fair share of broken hearts and broken limbs.

 

Sometimes she thinks she’ll move to the country,

To search life’s meaning

In the silent significance of slow nature.

But the screech of hot rubber on tarmac

And the smell of a thousand bodies twisting through

Frenetically jumping lights,

Pull her up each time.

And she thinks,

What could be more meaningful than this great mess of humanity,

Bumping along,

Trying desperately to fit together?

 

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Things I Have Discovered in 2 Months

So the blogging has gone down the tube recently and its far too late to catch you up on everything that I have been doing, thinking and feeling (and I do know how you like those feels), so instead, please be satisfied with this list of things that last December I did not know and now I do.

1) Owning a dog is the only life goal I have can actually hold on to day-to-day. Everything else (what country should I go to next, what should I do for work, should I go and study something and if so, what should it be, should I become some kind of nomad or buy a house and settle down, am I city person or country person, should I keep dying my hair or not) is ripe for change on a daily basis (sometimes hourly! Sometimes minute-by-minute!) but having a happy fluff ball that loves me unconditionally (as long as I keep feeding it) is a no-brainer. I WANT ONE.

2) There used to be a place called Bophuthatswana. My friend used to live there. For reals.

3) There is an animal called a capybara, which is essentially a giant hamster. And it is also real:

OH MY GOD, LOOK AT IT, ITS HUGGING A CAT AND THE CAT LOVES IT from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/capybara-hugs-cat_n_3475268.html

OH MY GOD, LOOK AT IT, IT’S HUGGING A CAT AND THE CAT IS TOTALLY INTO IT  from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/capybara-hugs-cat_n_3475268.html

4) I have developed a strange desire to be invisible, which I can’t say I ever remember feeling before (I’m an actor – it would kind of be a hinderance). I don’t know what this entails, or why this feeling has come over me, but it seems to have prevented me from blogging things and also meant that I was that terrified bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding whose shoulders are up near her ears and who is gripping so hard to her bouquet that her knuckles have gone white.

5) You can sell your eggs for 750 pounds in the UK.

6) There are far far far FAR more white shirts and ‘distressed’ jeans on sale at GAP than you would have ever imagined. They have confusing numbers of differences in finish and material so you suddenly find yourself passionate about white yarn as opposed to bue yarn, which is something you can’t ever remember worrying about before.  Also, ‘distressed’ jeans is a supremely funny image. I mean, think about it.

7) There are Masters that you can do in Germany and Austria FOR FREE. And they are TAUGHT IN ENGLISH. HOW HAS THIS NOT BECOME A BIGGER LOOPHOLE IN THE INTERNATIONAL HIGHER EDUCATION MARKET??

8) Hampstead Heath is the best place on earth. I already knew this, but then I found out many other reasons why it was even better than I ever thought. Including the fact that you can actually LIVE IN THE HEATH. Not around it, not with a view of it, but IN it, surrounded by mud and trees and ponds and ducks and dog-walkers. The collection of houses in the Heath is called ‘The Vale of Health’, which is also amazing and adds further evidence to my ‘best place in the world theory’ and why aren’t you all now going to buy houses there immediately (oh is it because of the certain-to-be terrifying astronomical prices of the properties, yes, well, I guess that makes sense).

9) In Tottenham in the 1950s, the smogs were so bad, children had to walk to school with their hands trailing along a brick wall, as there was no other way of telling where they were going.

10) London plane trees were planted to soak up the pollution from the air into their bark – which would then peel off the trees

11) In the 10th century there was an English King named Alfred and he burnt some cakes, apparently.

12) Parakeets come from the foothills of the Himalayas and that is why their flocks have done so well in the UK, as the weather is not really all that different.

13) The problem with so many people not telling the truth in the theatre industry is that even when people assure me they are telling the truth, I don’t believe them and have no way of telling whether or not they are actually telling the truth because most of them are: a) so practiced at lying in theatre bars that its second nature b) actors c) my friends and are therefore really nice people who don’t like to criticise anything (especially nothing a friend would do).

14) British people have no idea who ‘The Nanny’ is

15) A 3 years Bachelor’s Degree from Australia is in NO WAY EQUIVALENT to a 4 years Bachelor’s Degree from the USA. Furthermore, History is in NO WAY RELEVANT to the field of creative writing (hope you’re listening, Hilary Mantel) (oh, #snap)

16) Smartphones are bloody expensive creatures to keep on a UK pay-as-you-go plan. They eat up data the way locusts swarms eat up crops.

There’s probably more, but I can’t think of anything else right now.

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Filed under Random, UK

The Terminal: Favourite Poems

Oslo, 21 

With the last of our kroner

We buy milk and biscuits

To eat cross-legged on the floor,

Like children.

Swigging from the carton

Because we have no cups.

Giggling in the half-light

Worried someone will catch us.

Because don’t you know?

Children aren’t allowed

To drink straight from the carton

To have milk AND biscuits

For dinner AND breakfast.

Children aren’t allowed

To be alone in airports

At 3m on a Tuesday:

They have school the next day

And should be in bed.

Tromsø, 18

It is already night

And an unearthly glow

Shoots skywards from

The buildings.

Capitalism

And Electricity

Have replaced The Sun,

Lighting the Heavens the

Wrong Way Round.

Tromsø, 28

Early morning light

At midday

Turns the snowy mountains

Into soft pastel piles of

Ice-cream.

The peaks and troughs

No more menacing

Or impressive

Than the gouged-out buckets

Of Haagen-Daaz

In Leicester Square.

Buoyed by artificial warmth

And a barrier of glass

I know I could

‘Tame the Ancient Mountain Trolls!’

“Bend the Northern Wind to My Will!’

And

‘STEAL THOR’S THUNDER!’

But the Quiet Norwegians

In their sensible wool

Pay no attention.

Calling me instead

To my gate

and Home.

Heathrow, 21

On our first big trip

Together

As Adults

Chocolate bars were more important

Than a night’s accommodation.

We fold ourselves

Into plastic chairs

Make our bodies tight envelopes

For our valuables.

All Around us,

Human-luggage-bundles

Do the same.

Sighing and snoring and shuffling

Objects and people

Breathing as one.

Guards pace slowly,

Stare with red eyes

Stopping occasionally

Where clothes look like rags

Skin looks like coffee

Or heads are covered.

‘Oi. You.

Where’s your ticket?’

Santiago, 24

The British Man

Thinks Steve is:

‘An Old Soul’.
I think:

The British Man is

‘An Old Twit.’

But Steve is

Good and Kind

To Everyone.

The Canadian Girl

And I

Plot together

At the back of the pack.

Shoot death stares at Britain.

Talk telepathically

About his short-shorts

And his stretches

(And the combination of the two).

‘Who stretches in an Airport?’

We scream silently

Eyes tearing up with the effort.

Cork, 29 

There is nothing

More beautiful

Than my friend’s children,

Running through

Cork Airport together.
They give me

Sticky chocolate kisses

Press flushed round cheeks

Into my cool, pale hands

Throw their voices

Carelessly in the air.

Mathematically,

They are less than 0.05%

Of the space

Of this airport.

But when they leave

The building is suddenly

Empty.

Stansted, 27

I am uncertain

How cold I am.

I start

Wrapped in layers,

Each piece of skin

Coyly concealed

Each limb restrained,

Neatly tucked

Into each other

Like complex origami.

Hour by hour

I strip silently, sleepily

Releasing colour and cloth

To gently fall

In haphazard patterns

Beneath my flopping limbs.

I wake to curious stares

Not for my skin,

Suddenly exposed,

But because I’ve built

A Nest

In a place people are

In a Hurry to Leave.

Hobart, 23

The summer air is cleaner here

Cooler here

Emptier here

Here you breathe oxygen

Not smoke

Or smog

Or sweat

Or stress

Here you breathe air,

Actual air,

Which is light,

Just like the people always said.

‘As light as air.’

Florence, 27

The airport is white-hot

Concrete

And the air-conditioning is

Broken.

I am hung-over

(Friend’s wedding the night before)

I buy a bottle of water

As tall as my chest.

I see

An old man doubled up

On a plastic chair

And then notice more and more

A field of people

Wilting in the heat.

Cairns, 20

I think:

‘I have never felt humidity before,’

Which is silly,

Because I am 20

And live in Australia

And of course I have.

But I am 20

And prone to flights of fancy

And dramatic statements.

So, ‘I have never felt humidity before.’

The heat here is different.

Is heavy.

Is pushing against the glass that surrounds us

Using its terrible weight

To crack

And warp

And menace.

It is thick

Filling all available space

Outside you see it

Settling on people’s foreheads,

Their cheeks

Their armpits

The back of their knees

That soft spot just behind their ear lobe

And turning to moisture.

Inside,

It is a temperate climate,

And I think again,

‘I have never felt humidity before.’

Minneapolis, 29

I always forget

When the Customs Officials

Ask Questions.

They are not genuinely interested

In the answers.

No.

That’s not right.

They ARE genuinely interested

In ‘The Answers’

As Answers.

They are not genuinely interested

In Me.

As a person.

A person made up of ‘The Answers’.

Separate to ‘The Answers’.

For whom ‘The Answers’

Are not statistics,

Clues,

Warning Signs,

But History,

Memory

Identity,

And Life.

I can’t help feeling

In Another Time

In Another Place

This blonde boy would offer

Tea and Biscuits

A floral seat on his mother’s couch

And Some Answers of his own.

Newcastle, 14

We are a gaggle of girls

My cousin and aunts and I.

Newcastle Airport

Is one large room

And we fill it with chatter

With girly plans

Of shopping

And swimming

And more shopping

And eating

And even more shopping

And lying in the sun.

I have grown up with boys

And I’m worried.

Will I be girly enough?

Am I somehow defective?

Maybe

In one store

I will choose something

And they will know instantly:

‘She’s not a real girl.’

Seattle, 28

I am hiding from people

I know

But don’t know

Around corners

Behind columns

Under books

And in music

Call my flight!

Please!

I’m no good at invisibility.

Albuquerque, 12

My Dad likes deserts.

We have come to stare at

Deserts.

To drive through

Endless plains of Red and Gold

Flat and unchanging.

I like the thrust of Mountain Ranges

The crispness of snow

The colour blue.

‘Dad why did we come

To stare at Deserts?

We have deserts at home.

All of home is a desert.’

‘There are deserts

And there are Deserts,’

Dad replies

His eyes bluer

Than I have ever seen them.

LA, 21

I am so thin

I am L.A. thin

I am Kate Moss thin

I am pants falling off thin

I am ‘turn to the side and I disappear’ thin

I am ‘breathe too hard and I blow away’ thin

I am ‘oh God how did you lose all that weight???!!’ thin

I am ‘didn’t have enough money to eat 3 meals a day’ thin

I have never been so thin

I have never been so happy

I have never been so worried

About putting it all back on again.

Adelaide, 14

When they last saw me,

I was 8

And my mother had died.

I am scared because Lisa is crying.
Then she explains

She isn’t really crying

Her tear duct is fault

And sometimes it fills with water

For no reason at all.

And I realise,

I wasn’t scared.

I was touched.

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Filed under London, Random

Low-Level Frustration

I heard life was a Low-Level Panic.

It’s not.

Life is an endless trickling stream of frustration.

Life is a chinese water-torture.

Life is the quiet rumblings of an oncoming earthquake that never hits (but never ends).

Life is a long list of things you can’t do and you can’t change and you will always regret.

 

You’re lucky though.

The modern world has developed ways to cope.

Fake remedies (the beauty industry)

Mindless distractions (the internet, social media)

False hopes (self-help books)

Pretend power (democracy, petitions, peaceful protest)

 

The culture that hurts you pretends it can heal you.

The world that separates you thinks it can connect you.

 

They’ll tell you:

The most useful emotion in this life is not bravery or love or anger. 

It is nothing so noble or romantic.

The most useful emotion is acceptance.

A cool, suburban, comfortable acceptance.

Dull, utilitarian acceptance.

 

Don’t ask too many questions.

Don’t try and find out how the world really works.

Don’t ask to see the man behind the screen.

This only leads to revulsion.

And revulsion leads to anger.

And anger can be terrifying.

 

Low-level frustration is easy to accept.

To ignore.

For you.

And for them.

 

 

 

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Filed under Politics, Random