Month: February 2014

twenty-something.

Reflecting on the past year with some assistance from T. Swizzle. 

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This is not me. I have not walked on any train tracks over the past year.

This is my last week of being 22.

Birthdays always seem to dawn on me somewhat unexpectedly, which is awkward seeing as they are an annual thing… the occurring-on-the-same-day-every-year kind of annual.

Anyway.

I have to start by saying that I was really honoured that a song was written just for me to coincide with my twenty second year of existence. #soblessed #thankstaylor #omgitsallaboutme

Taylor, where would I have been without your words to guide me through the past year? Where, Taylor? Where?!

I guess being on the cusp of 23 means that I’m definitely a twenty-something now – my ‘early twenties’ are slipping away. Brace yourself, the ‘early-mid twenties’ are coming… Yes, I talk to myself like I live in Westeros. Oh, Alex.

After nearly three whole years of being in my twenties, here’s my limited understanding of what being a twenty-something is about:

  • Being either fairly or very broke.
  • Being somewhat discontent with life as an adult (thanks for filling me with optimism, pop culture).
  • Alcohol (consumption).
  • One part youthful optimism to one part growing cynicism.
  • Being a bit lost.
  • Flitting back and forth between living in and out of your family home.
  • Travel. As much travel as possible.
  • Change – both as a person and in the paths that you choose.
  • Self-doubt.
  • Questions.
  • Identity carving and creating.
  • Doing stupid things that you can only really get away with in your twenties.
  • Real adult relationships.
  • Real adult problems.
  • Relishing every moment before you have major life-long commitments (see: spouse, children).
  • Desperately trying to get your shit together… and in the meantime, maintaining the facade that you do…

So, if that’s what being in your twenties is about, then I guess I’m giving it a fair crack… well, I’m attempting to give it a fair crack… which has to count for something, right?

In writing this post I’ve studied the lyrics of Taylor’s poptastic hit in closer detail. And I’m genuinely surprised to report back that I think she actually knows more about being 22 than I previously thought. That sounded mean and as though Taylor is an airhead with no life experience – which was not intended – I just feel that her life is quite different to mine, seeing as I didn’t win a Grammy when I was 22… Ahh and moving on.

Upon a tad more reflection on my part, to say that my experience of being 22 was of being “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” wouldn’t actually be too far off. Well, in the sense that it was a year of contrasting elements.

My year was…
Challenging
Successful
Crazy
Stressful
Fun
A struggle
Full of “face palm” moments
Rough
Uneventful
Quotidien
Exciting
Adventurous
Littered with unhealthy habits

It was filled with both yearning and contentment. It had some pretty terrible patches, paired with some pretty great moments, too. Despite it all, I find it comforting that I feel that I’m growing as a person and that I know myself better with every passing year. Hopefully I’m also becoming a better version of myself. This is debatable. My parents would argue that I am not. #thedisappointingchild

Honestly, I would’ve liked more out of my year; to be able to say that 22 was a BIG YEAR – a turning point (to who knows what), a time I could look back on and say that that was when something brilliant/awesome/life-changing began. However, it just felt like another year. And I have to say that that mentality scares me. I’m meant to be treasuring my twenties, not just letting them fly by flippantly. 

Ugh. I think I’m doing my twenties wrong.

Well, that sentence was really poorly structured, Alex, so yes, I would agree with your sentiments. 

See what I said about contrasts? The way I feel about something can change in the time it takes me to write a blog post.

Well, despite there being a fair chunk of change on my horizon, at least I feel much more peaceful than I did a year ago. My guess is that “the future” is going to be a significant theme in this coming year seeing as it’s my penultimate year at uni and I’m about to throw myself out into the big kid world. So, it’s also a year of preparation, exploring options, creating opportunities and deciphering dreams.

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But did I?? Am I?? Thanks. Now I’m stressing myself out again. Just what I needed.

 

It’s miserable and magical
Oh yeahhhhh
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the heartbreaks
It’s time…

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22
Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you
You don’t know about me but I’ll bet you want to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22

It feels like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights

We won’t be sleeping
It feels like one of those nights
You look like bad news, I gotta have you

****

Now I just have to figure out what “dancing like we’re 22” looks like.

Wish me luck.

Alex x

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#socialmediafails: part one

Realising that I’ve let social media warp simple things like saying “please” and “thank you”.

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I’m going to take what I think is a fairly safe bet and guess that you, my darling reader, are pretty good with that whole social media thing. Right? And thus, I’m going to assume that you know a fair bit about social media and its continual impact upon communication and so many other related spheres of our 21st century lives. Blah blah blah. For the love of peanuts, tell me something new!

Well, despite having read plenty of articles on the subject and having spent many hours doing utterly arduous first-hand research in the field, there have still been times when I’ve been surprised by just how much social media had affected my relationships.

An example?

Well, I can think back to a time during the age of social media when I went out of my way to make my friend’s day. Good lord, I busted a gut. I spent quite a bit of cash. Hours were spent planning it. There were tears just getting my arse there. And I’m glad to say that I think I made her pretty happy.

And do you know what I wanted (and expected) in return? A social media shout out. Yes, that’s right: I wanted her to thank me publicly by posting a photo, tweeting or writing an update about what I’d done – which is f-ed up on so many levels that it is giving me mild brain damage. How the hell did I get to the stage where I not only wanted, yet also expected social media glorification in return for what I’ve done? How did it get to the stage where this would be my first response if a friend had done the same for me?

One source of influence which pops to mind are the handful of fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram. Perhaps you follow some too? If so, you’ll notice that when they are gifted another gorgeous skincare collection/bunch of flowers/handbag they make sure to post beautiful images of said gift whilst ensuring to tag the gift-giver, thus directing their followers to the company’s activities, as a way of thanking them.

A particular example of someone who does this on a regular basis is Margaret Zhang: a chick who goes to the same uni and me… and, whom at the ripe old age of 20, also happens to be a prominent fashion blogger (the type that gets to attend New York and London fashion weeks). And yes, I do sometimes feel like a bit of an underachiever when I see what she’s just posted. 

An aside in regards to Miss Zhang: in some ways I find it funny that I enjoy her work so much, seeing as my taste is so very different to hers – but I always enjoy seeing how she pairs really interesting pieces and I guess observing someone else’s style develop from a distance has a beauty of its own… In addition to this, I love the way she writes – it’s always a beautiful combination of irreverence, substance, depth and a sort of lyricism.

Ok. Margaret tangent over. We were talking about social media shout outs.

Here are some photos she has posted over the past couple of weeks:

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You’re smart enough to figure out which Insta and description correspond with each other:
A belated Valentine’s Day shout out to her bf. #cupcakes.
A shout out to Tommy Hilfiger for her pre-show flowers and trench coat. #asyoudo
A shout out to her friend who sent her roses.
A shout out to the hotel booking site (and subsequent hotel) used during her stay in London. #LFW

Firstly, how come I don’t get showered with flowers and cupcakes and trench coats?? Hmm?? Answers, people!

Secondly, perhaps seeing posts like these from various sources multiple times a week could help explain my shockingly entitled mindset. See, I’ve allowed this to become my normal…

But the thing is that for Margaret, this is part of her work as a fashion blogger as every time she gives a company or brand a shout out it’s generating them the positive publicity they desire. What’s more, my guess is that some of these brands pay her to post these shout outs as part of their PR strategy and if not, it’s her way of her reimbursing them for their free products.

Except, Alex, you are not a fashion blogger who is being showered in free shoes. Although I obviously wouldn’t complain if that was the case. Duh. No, instead I am me. The thank yous I give and receive are not driving a potential 124,000+ people to my website with a single post.

Fashion blogging aside, most importantly I’ve realised that in this process I lost all perspective. Rather than making my friend’s day, what I was doing for her became an opportunity for me to look good in the eyes of others. If I remember correctly, that’s the opposite of what gift-giving is about – it should be about the other person and not myself and what I can gain from it.

What’s more, now that I’ve thought more about this particular instance, it has become increasingly clear to me that, it was I who should’ve been thanking her, not her thanking me.

So, to my lovely friend, it may be belated, but I hope you had a great day. Thank you for letting me share it with you and, in doing so, for making my day. Thank you for making my soul blossom.

Alex x

PDAs: the single promises and the loved-up amnesia.

A love-hate relationship with PDAs and how they highlight my double standards.

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How was your Valentine’s Day? It has a special way of bringing out the best and worst in us, wouldn’t you agree?

We make someone feel special (or atone for our mistakes) with sugar, red-petaled plants and new lingerie. We hurl profanities at anyone who reminds you of your distaste for the day. We buy expensive cards. We crave what we want, but don’t have. We remember that we are pretty damn lucky. We sulk at our desks when seemingly every other colleagues receives a ribbon-tied delivery. We do stupidly cheesy things which we wouldn’t dare do any other day of the year.

Yeah, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, isn’t it?

Personally, what I was most confronted by this Valentine’s Day was my Facebook newsfeed.

Now, as many of you may know I am a self-confessed cheese. Quite simply, I love all things cheesy and cute. Yes, it’s fairly terrible – I’m well aware. Despite this, the amount of love-themed paraphernalia plastered all over Facebook over Valentine’s Day was beyond my limits. Seemingly every man, woman, guinea-pig and brand I had ever liked had to chip in their pink coloured five cents. My eyes felt violated by the sheer amount of hearts and roses on my screen to the point where I actually found it repulsive.

Yes, that’s right: the girl who loves all things cheesy became the Grinch of Valentine’s Day simply from scanning social media. That, darlings, is what we call “the power of love”. 

Well, unfortunately for me I realised earlier this year that this isn’t the only area where I have some fairly prominent double standards…

See, whenever I’m even vaguely loved up I am not only into the guy, I’m also seriously into the PDAs. All of that dopamine released into my system means that I totally forget about the fact that I am even in public… let alone the fact that my fellow civilians didn’t ask to witness my public displays of affection… but I forget all of this because I’m far too intoxicated. Or “Drunk in Love” as Bey and Jay-Z would say.

Bus? Boat? Plane? Train? The bus stop? The traffic lights? The park? The communal table at that bar?

Nothing is sacred, cherubs. And for that I apologise. Sincerely. I really do… but when I’m in the moment, I feel like I’m in a rom com or an iconic moment like this…

doisneau_kiss (1) Robert Doisneau, 1950, Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville, 1950.

But when it’s someone else’s PDA I turn into a combination of two Manhattan brunettes: Marnie and Blair…

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Uhh… Yeah… So… somewhat hypocritical. Look, I’m sorry. I really am. And to the passersby that I have inflicted my own PDAs upon in the past? Yeah, I’m sorry to you all, too… but the thing is, is that I only remember to say sorry when I’m single and I see a couple making out from the corner of my eye.

Look, I’m not that bitter. I would actually deny being bitter at all. I am very happy for people that are madly into each other to the extent that the world feels off balance and as though it’s melting. Evidently, I kind of adore PDAs – but only on the condition that I am a participant. PDAs are not a spectator sport.

As I said, double standards.

I’ve been trying to understand what it is about (other peoples’) PDAs which bothers me and I think I have reduced it down to this: I feel a twinge of jealousy. No, not the coolest thing to admit, is it? There are two people who are both really attracted to each other. Two people who probably still have that nervousness and anxiety of the beginning of a relationship. Everything’s new and fresh, brimming with a whirlwind of lust and potential.

Or perhaps I’m reading too much into things and they’re just two drunk strangers.

Either way, who am I to resent someone else getting a taste of that intoxicating dopamine?

Alex x

after all this time.

I hate to admit it, but there is still a tiny part of me which still isn’t over you.
(Yeah, I know.)

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“Just because I finally got over you, doesn’t mean there are days when it all just comes rushing back” – a quote I found on Pinterest. 

After all this time I still think about you and what we could’ve been. It’s not like you were The One That Got Away (and I don’t think that I was that person for you either), which is a good thing as it’d be quite depressing you were.

What I mean, is that, despite knowing rationally that there were very good reasons why things didn’t work out between us, there is a little part of my brain which likes to create these narratives about you and I. Yes, that’s right, rascals – I have too much free brain space and I am a sad human being. Don’t worry – my sibling already reminds me of these things regularly. 

It can be as simple as a song which reminds me of you and only you. Or seeing you post something on Facebook. Or hanging out in areas where I know I could bump into you (I’d just like to clarify for if we do bump into each other, that I just like hanging out there and I was in those bars before there was something between us… but let’s not lie: I secretly want to bump into you.) Or it could be doing things which remind me of you cos they’re things that you love doing, too. Or it could be someone who looks like you – with the same kind of build and facial hair. Or an accent which is just like yours and which makes me melt in exactly the same way as yours did.

All of these little things remind me of you. I can’t help it. I just can’t seem to shake the memory of you.

Does it mean that I’m not over you? Or that I want someone or something new in my life? Or something else altogether? It means you have a hankering for brie, girl. Obvs.

Am I crazy for letting you roam around in my imagination? Uhh. How is that even a question, Alex?  Ok. So evidently I am. It is not a helpful thing. I get that.

But, wait. What if we had stronger feelings for each other a second time round? What if the timing was better? What if you were more emotionally available? What if I was a better version of me? What if…

Do you know what the most annoying thing about all of this is? I got over you. I did cleanse you from my system. I didn’t Facebook stalk you and I was actually very happy that things didn’t continue between us. And then? Then I have these moments where I let my mind wander…

I know that, objectively, thinking about all of the things that could have been with gents from a long time ago is genuinely stupid – even for me. Why on earth am I torturing myself like this? And how did you get so far under my skin? How can I deep cleanse you from my system once again?

I guess this is the part of the blog post where the ‘resolution’ of sorts belongs: where we find a solution to my mild ‘thinking about men from my past’ addiction. But, honestly? I don’t know. It’s not like I can predict when you’re going to appear in my thoughts and its not like I want you there in my mind. Perhaps I need to put some preventative strategies in place. Yes, that could be a good start.

But how do you stop an over-thinker from over-thinking?

Something for this chick with too much spare brain space to ponder, I guess. Perhaps that’s it – perhaps I need to overload my brain with other stuff that has nothing to do with my love life. You could actually be onto something, Alex. In the meantime, suggestions would actually be great. I’ll thank you for your help by showering you with brownies. (And I make great brownies, if I do say so myself.)

In the meantime, at least Snape and Bon Iver get me. That’s a comfort.

Alex x

****

I have buried you
Every place I’ve been
You keep ending up
In my shaking hands

You keep ending up
Every place I’ve been
In my shaking hands
Every place I am

“A Song For a Lover of Long Ago”, Bon Iver

****
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the dictionary according to Alex.

My friend eliminated one word from my vocabulary and it changed my love life. Completely.

Raspberry-MochatiniI can’t exactly remember what that cocktail looked like. All I know is that it tasted good.

This post comes typed to you from Downtown Vancouver to the sound of my favourite ear-gasm: London Grammar.

I recently spent quite a bit of time one-on-one with a close friend  (and by ‘quite a bit of time’ I’m referring to the ‘together 24/7′ variety). It was a bit more than we’re used to, but it was great – especially as we didn’t end up at each others’ throats. Always a bonus. 

Anyway. During our time together she laughed and noted that I use quite a lot of bizarre expressions on a regular basis. Of course she already knew this about me, but she commented that she hadn’t realised quite how often I used these Alex-isms.

Yes, it’s true. I use lots of weird phrases. Regularly. ‘All the time’ kind of regularly.

Let’s see. We have:
“Ready spaghetti!”
“Cool beans”
“Cool bananas” (feeling the food vibe yet?)
“Amigo” (or “amiga” depending on the person’s gender)
“For the love of peanuts”
“Honey bee” (for my darling canine, anyone under the age of seven or a close girlfriend)
“Boom!”
“Fandango”
“Shebang”
“Negatory, ghost rider”
“Roger that”
“Non-sober”
“B!#chcake”
“Zing!”
“Dingus”

I’m fairly oblivious as to how often I use these words. Put it this way: apparently I wasn’t paying much attention in primary school and I subsequently left some gaping holes in my vocabulary where some more eloquent phrases should reside. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.

Now, a few months ago I was sipping on a cocktail with my good friend. In fact, he had kindly let me have his cocktail and he took mine cos mine was kinda gross and his tasted like chocolate, but he liked my weird one. Whatever! I was unpacking my most recent quandaries (gentleman-related quandaries, obviously) to him. Suddenly, mid-conversation he turned to look at me and said, “Alex. Can I give you my unsolicited advice?”
“Of course”, I nodded eagerly. I’ll take any good advice I can get my grubby mitts on.
“Firstly, for the love of god, never use the word ‘singledom’ ever again,” he gasped. “You’re not… you’re… your being single is not who you are,” he reasoned. He paused, exhaling with exasperation. “Secondly, that guy?… Meh,” he said as he gave me the biggest, most non-committal, truly ambivalent shrug I’ve ever witnessed.
“Huh?”
“Put it this way: if he’s not being emotionally honest now, how can you ever expect him to be emotionally honest with you in the future?”
(He’s got a good brain upon his shoulders, this one.)

And you know what? He had been far more insightful in those few minutes that I had been in a long, long while. I couldn’t see that I was letting my relationship status govern how I saw everything else in my life and how I saw myself. And hearing that from him did, in fact, change my perspective. For if I was indeed defining myself by my (long-term) lack of a long-term romantic relationship, then who was I without this identifier? ‘Hi! I’m Alex and I specialise in singledom’ had to become, ‘Hi! I’m Alex’. And that had to become enough.

What my friend reminded me in those few words was that I am a whole entity just as I am, rather than a four fifths hoping and waiting to be made whole.

Oh, and what he said about that emotionally dishonest guy? Hit the nail on the head there, too. Yep. Twice within two minutes.

So, since then I have been quite conscious as to the words which tumble out of my mouth. Specifically, I’ve been correcting myself as I get out of my subconscious habit of using the word ‘singledom’. Initially, it was a little hard (and it was surprising when I realised just how often I was using the S word), but now it’s fine.

Anyway. I’ve added a new word to my jargon to fill the void which ‘singledom’ left: “Babetown” – a word reserved for the description of the most physically delectable of the human species and a word which I’m using with fervour.

Mmmm. Babetown. Mmm chocolate cocktails.

Alex x