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#socialmediafails: Like me! Follow me! (Love me.)

Awkward social media realisations and what motivates me to write.

ImageWhat is more fictitious, rainbow-coloured unicorns or what I post on social media?

“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Theodore Roosevelt.

Last year I read an article which fundamentally shifted my perspective of my twenty-something life. The article, entitled “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy”, struck so many chords in me that I still have the tab open in my phone web browser. The article explains the relationship between the discontentment many Gen Ys feel and our use of social media.

Can I highly recommend that you go and read it? I can? Good. If you have not read it please, PLEASE STOP READING THIS and go there RIGHT NOW! Come back to this tomorrow. Just go. Go!! Yes, it is quite long, but yes, it is that good. Have you gone yet? There are unicorns spewing rainbows. Now have I convinced you? Good. Finally.

After having read the Wait But Why* article everything suddenly made so much more sense. The comparative inadequacy I felt, which I had let social media fuel, was able to be rationalised down to a competition where, unbeknownst to me, everyone else is cheating just as much as I am. (For anyone who spews rainbows must be a master of illusions.) I found this clarity and the realisation that no one actually has their sh!t together really quite comforting.

Since having these mini unicorn-illustrated revelations you would think that I would try and do my little bit to stop this really awful, toxic cycle, right? Right. Wrong. 

Despite gaining this new perspective I have not demonstrated the maturity or security in myself to stop posting self-promoting status updates, tweets and photos. Posting on social media to (strategically) garner as many likes and follows as possible is Just. So. Addictive.

I’m guilty of it. I still am. It can range from the successful (“I got a full scholarship! I got a new job!”) to the vain (“Oh, did I just accidentally post a selfie? #notthataccidental”) to the envy-eliciting (“Casual check-in at a 5 star restaurant, darlings!”).

I am completely guilty of this. Yet, why do I still do this? Because it feeds my ego.

It makes me feel special.
It makes me feel important.
It makes me feel valued.
It makes me feel loved.
(And if that’s not f-ed up, then I don’t know what is.)

Is posting really inane, “real” details about our lives the solution? It’s a nice thought, but I don’t think so as that could be:
a) just as attention-seeking as the aforementioned types of posts. I’m sure you’ve encountered them, too – the vague, wallowing, woe-sharing without any explanation (think “Life is the worst!”) which often receive an outpouring of social media sympathy and “care”. (Perhaps that’s part of the issue – maybe we have conditioned ourselves to feel better by sharing our negative experiences on social media. Are we really that disconnected in real life?? If so, then that’s depressing.)
b) bloody boring (Posts of the “I just popped a really big pimple” variety. Too much reality. We do not need that much detail, thanks.)

Who the hell are we kidding? We all know rationally that real life does not have a vintage filter which enhances the colour of our days. Life can be wonderful, but life can be shit. This is nothing new. So, how come we are all buying into this big con, when we probably know that what we see on social media is only a fraction of someone else’s life – and it’s a fabricated fraction at that?

Perhaps the way to counter this isn’t by changing how and what we post, but by weaning ourselves off it altogether. Perhaps it’s time to migrate away from this behemoth that we incessantly feed. Perhaps it’s time to de-friend the fake friend that is social media.

(I mean, how has “de-friend” been allowed to become part of our vernacular?)

****

Personally, I’ve been challenged by my relationship with social media through this blog.

“How?” you inquisitively inquire?

Well, over time it has become apparent that certain types of posts garner more likes, follows and hits than others, which makes it tempting to only write pieces of that ilk. From working in marketing I also know that ensuring that there is new content posted on a regular basis is beneficial for organic search engine optimisation (which we marketing folk call “SEO” – sorry for the jargon) where, basically, you’re aiming to be the first result in a Google search of certain terms which are relevant to your business/website/blog. You can aid your SEO by using key terms relevant to the searches you want to appear in throughout your site and by adding new content on a regular basis.

So, I’ve gotten into the habit of coordinating my posts on certain days of the week not only for SEO, but to correspond with when I know I’ll get the most traffic. An example? I do not post on Saturday night because:
a) most people are engaged in other activities on Saturday night and thus are less likely to see that I have posted something new and
b) it has become Very Important to pretend that you are having an Awesome Time doing something Awesome on Saturday night (even if you’re at home studying or sitting on Facebook when you’re meant to be studying). No one wants to commit social (media) suicide. Duh. 

But here’s the thing, I enjoy writing most when it is done out of a creative and emotional impulse. I need to express myself and it needs to happen now! And that means writing about things which are more or less sexy, controversial and happy-go-lucky than that which constitutes a popular post. Recently, I’ve been making myself post a new piece on certain nights each week which I fear is shifting my writing away from “impulse and expression” to “obligation”. The latter of which is the antithesis of what I want for this to be, because doing so would change the nature of this blog entirely.

See, I do not write for you; I write for us.

The “us” is imperative.

This blog would not be what it is if I didn’t write, firstly, for myself. See, if I was only writing to satisfy an external audience then I would find it less meaningful and fulfilling and the end product would reflect my being less emotionally invested in it.

Of course I write knowing that I have an audience and I greatly appreciate your readership, you gorgeous little bandicoots. It fills me with immense pleasure when you share that you have enjoyed reading a post or that it touched you. I love that. That really makes me so glad and it makes me feel pretty honoured, too. It is also, more often that not, comforting to hear that I am not the only one who is absolutely failing at life on a regular basis.

But of course not everyone likes this blog. And that’s perfectly ok – I am all for everyone having their own opinion. Furthermore, I am not under the illusion that this blog would appeal to everyone.

I have friends whom I respect and admire who have indicated that they do not like reading this blog. I let their unintentionally-hurtful, throwaway comments sting. Comments like, “I have another friend who has a blog. He’s a fantastic writer”. (I get what you’re implying. Cheers!) Look, I know they don’t approve of my sometimes less than G-rated vocabulary, content and cynicism. But that’s ok. I am not, after all, forcing them to read or specifically aiming to appeal to them.

But that isn’t going to stop me from writing.

I am not, after all, writing for any accolades or record-breaking number of website hits. I am not writing because I have to. I am not writing thinking that I am changing the world. I am not writing to please everyone. I am not writing to cast judgement on others (and if I do – please pull me up on it). I am not writing to perpetuate the life that I portray on Instagram.

I am writing because I find it therapeutic. I am writing because it allows me to unravel my thoughts and to learn from my experiences. I am writing because I love it.

And for the moment that is enough.

Alex x

* A name so desperately lacking in punctuation that it hurts my eyes. (Would it be so hard to add a comma and question mark?)

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four little words and a lesson in self-belief.

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Ughh. Yuck. Thanks, but no thanks, Weight Watchers.

If you are a female over the age of 12 I think I could safely guess that you have read a magazine interview with a pretty, successful celebrity (most likely an actress or popstar). The interview will conclude with the starlet sharing their advice for anyone wanting to emulate their success. They finish by imparting their Words of Wisdom with their teenage audience, “Just believe in yourself!”

Just believe in yourself.

Please excuse me whilst I go and ease my nausea.

Believe in yourself?!

Please, kindly, piss off. I don’t need your cheesy, meaningless, insincere drivel in my life. Particularly because I have quite literally just eaten some delicious cheese and I am not in need of any more at the moment, but thanks anyway.

It is mildly infuriating, isn’t it? “Just believe in yourself” reduces success down to something as flighty and intangible as self-belief. I find it frustrating that it glamourises and minimises all of the gruelling work which goes into achieving goals and dreams. It trivialises something which is probably really amazing and turns it into another throwaway catchphrase.

And this is a shame because it means that we miss out on appreciating all of the effort and dedication which does go into achieving great things.

Perhaps some more useful advice would be to say, “Be prepared for really difficult times, but know that they will be invaluable to the person you will become”. I dunno. Just an idea.

In one of my business subjects at university this semester we have learnt about what is known as the Locus of Control. It is essentially a measure of whether an individual feels that what happens in their life is determined by internal forces – their own actions – or external forces – by chance and figures of power and authority. The former of the two is known as an internal locus of control, whereas to be of the latter is to have an external locus of control.

It was an interesting exercise despite some diabolically dry compulsory readings and from it I have realised that I have a strong internal locus of control i.e. I believe that I predominantly determine the course and outcome of events in my life. Since then it has caused me to think about how my own internal locus has impacts upon my life, as well as the effect of our collective loci upon wider society.

And so what does my locus of control mean for “Just believe in yourself”? Well, my perception of control over my life suggests, due to its focus on the individual’s ability as the source of power, that “Just believe in yourself!” is, in fact, the perfect catchphrase for me.

Oh, lord.

How can this wishy-washy bullsh!t be relevant to me?!

I’m not sure. But let’s hang in together for a few more sentences, ok?

Despite only developing my cynical streak within recent years, reading “Just believe in yourself!” was one of the first instances which elicited a cynical response from me as a young(er) chipmunk. Believing in yourself just seemed like a whole load of glittery crap.

But over the past few months my slightly cynical 23-year-old self has begun questioning my dismissal of this oft-repeated tidbit of advice.

It all began with a surprising and exciting opportunity presenting itself.

For some context fun: I left high-school as a bona fide over-achiever who, with the help of some mental illness, has since learnt to be an average (or under) achiever, among other things. I’ve talked about how much non-fun depression can be in previous posts, and something which I’ve experienced on a regular basis is being stuck in a rut. Ruts feel endless and awful and hopeless and it’s all rather miserable. Everything – even the simple things – feels like a strain. It’s somewhat the opposite to the plastic fantastic, perky optimism of “Just believe in yourself!”

And I may not have believed in myself a few months ago, but someone else did. And it was both disconcertingly foreign and incredibly powerful.

Someone thinks that I can do THIS?! Someone thinks that I am up to this challenge? You’ve got to be kidding me!

I hadn’t realised how long it had been since I had so consciously felt the encouraging push of someone else’s belief in my ability and my potential.

And it was mesmerising and surreal.

I continue to stumble along my way, but I now have that little reminder that someone believes in me which encourages me as a muddle my way through the day.

I would be lying to say to you that I’m not scared. I am scared. I am officially very scared. This opportunity is exciting, but it is also petrifying.

I am scared of how I am going to cope in certain circumstances. And I am scared of re-triggering sources of pain. And I am scared that I won’t be ok.

But someone believes in me.

I would be lying to say to you that this opportunity came about easily. It didn’t. It’s the result of many years of slogging through tough times. There has been a surplus of slogging.

But other people believe in me.

And from their belief I have noticed a change within myself:

Someone else believes in me… and that someone is me.

Being the cheesy critter that I am, this has manifested itself in a mantra of sorts:

“I believe in you.”

Four little words.

They are neither revolutionary, nor original, nor exceedingly elegant words. But they are words which are accessing a long-neglected source of internal willpower and which are helping to lift me up out of those ruts.

Perhaps these four little words are an essential I have long lacked, for I am delighting in the hope and comfort they bring.

Perhaps they can help me smother the heavy fear on the horizon.

Perhaps they can help me to achieve all of my goals and dreams.

Perhaps I should dull my cynicism and listen to celebrity drivel more often.

Mmm. Perhaps.

Alex x

the numbers game: when someone asks for your digits.

That Moment when someone asks for your number.

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Old-school is underrated.

“Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here’s my number
So, call me maybe?”
– C. R. Jepson, 21st Century philosopher.

Oh, 2012. That unassuming little year will always bear the scars of one too many parodies of Miss Jepson’s one-hit wonder. Poor little 2012 – it wasn’t its fault.

Do you remember the video clip? The one with the super ripped guy mowing the lawn and then cleaning his car (see: Stereotypical Masculinity) and then, despite Carly flinging herself all over him, giving his number to one of her (male) band members? Yep, that one.

Well, I have something to say about it: I have never, in all of my 23 years, had anyone write their number down on a piece of paper and hand it to me.

And I feel like I’m missing out on so much. (Has anyone ever received a number on a piece of paper? Am I missing out??)

Inhale, Alex.

I guess I’ve always been someone who has given their number (when asked), rather than asking for someone else’s number or just randomly receiving a number from a stranger…

****

There were stripes and red lips and wine and conversation.

He coordinated his movements so that we would walk the wind-whipped 200 metres to the bus stop together.

We turned to part ways and I guess I knew what was about to happen. And it was exciting, because for the very first time in my life someone was going to ask for my number.

“Hey, Alex,” he said looking up at me from his winter coat. “Umm, could I have your number?”

OMYGOD!! YAY!! EEEEEEEEE!! IT’S HAPPENED, PEOPLE!! IT’S HAPPENED!!

The fact that I wasn’t attracted to him was beside the point. Obviously.

It’s not that he wasn’t lovely… or smart or interesting or quite good looking, but I just didn’t feel drawn to him.

But I didn’t feel like I was in the position to be fussy. Anyway, this was validity that a) someone was attracted to me and b) that my secret weapon – the red lips – worked.

And, look, it’s not like my self-worth was hinging on someone asking me out on a date, but it’s always a nice little ego boost, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, I had to break the news to him after a few dates that I wasn’t actually interested in him. That day had far too many bathroom freak outs and heart palpitations for my liking.

****

We’re fighting against the elements; we know that some very important people in our lives Do Not Approve. Which is a shame considering the fact that our chemistry is through the Richter scale…

We haven’t had The Moment yet. The one where he asks.

And I hold my breath hoping, willing him to do so.

Pretend to be busy doing other stuff, Alex. Where did that beverage of mine get to?

He lingers as his mates drag themselves through the front door. He lingers and I silently exhale.

He takes a step forward.

“Hey,” he smiles. Good god, he’s hot. “Can I have your number?”

YES!!!!!!!!!! Wait! Play it cool, Alex. 

“Umm… Uhh, yeah, ok,” I shrug.

He raises a wry eyebrow as he tries to gauge my sudden nonchalance before I recite the little poem of numbers to him.

Then he leans forward to say goodbye.

In some ways it was a shame that nothing came of it. Perhaps it was all social nicety. Perhaps he never intended to put words into actions. Perhaps the other players intervened (likely). Perhaps he saw it as too much of a risk. And perhaps he didn’t think I was worth that risk.

And that’s ok, because in many ways it was a very good thing that nothing came of it. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who won’t take risks every now and again.

****

Our noses register the distinctive combination of butter and salt. There’s popcorn somewhere at this party! 

We follow the trail to a tall, dark, handsome gent who is holding, eating and sharing the moreish goodness around.

We chat. Very briefly. And then he has to go.

“Hey. Do you want to see each other later on?” he asks.
“Tonight?” (Context: they were continuing on to another venue)
“No, I mean like going out for drinks sometime,” he smiles.
“Oh. Sure. Yes,” I smile in return.

And he tries and fails to coordinate getting drinks together about five times. You would think that after multiple weeks of him doing so that he would figure out that I’m quite busy and that subsequently he will have to put something in my diary more than 72 hours before the actual date.

He’s a slow learner who is keeping his options open. Delete and move on.

****

I always enjoy meeting new people at parties. Tonight is no exception.

There is conversation and there is wine.

Later that night he draws me away. “Hey, Alex. Can I have a moment of your time?” he nervously asks. He leads me inside where he turns to face me.

“Alex, I think I like you and I think we would have lots of interesting conversations together and I was wondering whether I could have your number and whether, if I called you and asked you out to dinner, you would say yes?” he stammers.

I smile and nod and tell him that there is indeed a very high chance that I would say yes.

“Oh! Ok. That’s great. I’ll wait three days to call you and everything.”
“God, I love how excruciating that is,” I jest.

Our chemistry may not be through the Richter scale, but he has the courage to put his words into actions. And there’s certainly something attractive about that…

Alex x

 Also. Fun fact: I’ve updated my About section. Because it’s all about me. Duh.

words, actions and the vast chasm in between.

Dissecting a state of paralysis.

ImagePhoto courtesy of Jeen Na.

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”
– Simone de Beauvoir

“Live the life that you want to live today.”
– Just some words I wrote on a piece of paper which I then stuck on my wall

****

Funnily enough, writing this post has me thinking about this one time when I was squished in the backseat of a stranger’s car with three other people in the middle of the night driving along empty streets. As you do. 

At the party we had just left my friend and I had – unbeknownst to each other – both been eyeing off umm flirting with politely chatting to the most attractive guy there. At the conclusion of the evening he kissed one of us while the other was collecting their stuff. Then, in the car on the way home, someone else in the car shared that he had told her that he was interested in one of the Sydney girls… the one he didn’t kiss.

Oh, and at this point in time I was more or less sitting on top of this friend (seeing as we were still doing the sardine-in-the-backseat-without-seat-belts-oh-my-god-such-rebels thing).

Awkward.

“Words and actions,” I said loud enough for her to hear, looking straight ahead.

****

I am not wise; I pretend to be wise. I can rattle off things which certainly sound wise, much to my father’s annoyance. Why does this irritate him? Because wisdom without discipline is futile. And I epitomise wisdom without discipline.

See, I may know what’s good for me, but do I actually employ any of these tidbits of awesome into my own life?

Ahh no. I can definitely vouch for the fact that it’s a no. Ok, no need to be overly enthusiastic, Alex. A simple “no” was sufficient.

Want some examples?

Do I know that ice-cream is not a “health food”? Yes.
And so what did your diet consist of over your recent break? Umm. Ice cream. Maybe. Perhaps. Definitely. Yeah, so mainly ice cream.

Do you know that exercising on a more regular basis would improve your fitness, energy levels, skin, mood and overall health? Yes, I do know that.
And how many times have you exercised this week, Alex? Ahh minus twice. (I didn’t even know that was possible.)

Do you know how to make more financially responsible decisions so that you can save money for travel? Yes, it’s called not going on Asos.
And did you receive yet another parcel from Asos yesterday? Ahh yes. Yes, I did.

Do you know that going to bed earlier is immeasurably good for your health and wellbeing? Yeah, I feel ah-mazing after getting an early night.
And how often do you do this? Twice a year… max.

Do you know that you gain very little from sitting at your laptop? (Well, apart from testing the strength of your self-esteem by playing peer-comparison games on Facebook and knowing every detail of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe.) I’m sure that my stalker-esque knowledge of Kate’s wardrobe will come in handy one day. It will, I swear.

My saving grace is that I do drink water and I floss my teeth on a semi-regular basis (which is better than “never”, right?)

****

I am full of words. My words create blog posts, but they do not generate actions. I talk a good game. I’ve read hundreds of articles about a) fitness b) health c) getting what you want out of life d) being a better person e) blah blah blah.

I don’t need any more knowledge (seeing as nearly all of the articles can be reduced to the same thesis). I have all of the major building blocks I need. Perhaps lots of life stuff isn’t that complicated, but that we make it complicated so that we don’t have to can postpone tackling our issues… (Please note that that was an inadvertent “I am Alex and I am so wise” comment. See what I’m talking about?!)

Yet I prefer to read articles similar to previous articles about “Living Your Best Life”, rather than actually making changes so that I do live my best life. I have all of the tools already sitting in my handbag (or head). It’s just that I choose to not use them.

Why the hell not, Alex?!

I don’t know. That’s exactly what I’m trying to work out.

Insert literal thinking time here. 

(Disclaimer: I am about to sound like an arrogant twat.) I know that I can do it. I know what I’m capable of and I have a firm belief in my capabilities. I can put my words into actions. I have the drive, willpower and discipline to achieve my goals. I know this because I’ve already proven it to myself. I took all of those traits to the th degree. Which was only very detrimental.

Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps I’m afraid of what my life will become if I fully exercise the full force of my willpower again. I’m afraid that allowing the tidbits of wisdom I have amassed to be transformed into action will turn me into the obsessive person I was. And that scares me and if that’s what would happen I’d much prefer to stay being the unhealthy, hypocritical, arrogant person that I am, thank you very much.

If I put into action the things that I want to be a part of my life my life would be an Instagram feed of green smoothies, early morning runs, national park walks, camping trips, quinoa salads, piles of books I’d (metaphorically) devoured, sunshine, a chic yet rustic apartment, fresh morning air, travel, limbering limbs, laughter, healthy/#clean/gourmet meals, fresh flowers, lunch break walks, re-established evening rituals, organic protein balls, a vintage bike and seeing the stars out in the countryside.

It sounds glorious. And pretty damn healthy and happy. And sickeningly virtuous.

The only thing is that I’m not very skilled in virtue.

I hope I’ll get there. No, I will get there in time, but it’s going to take time. Seeing as I’ve written this post I can’t feasibly get away with doing nothing now (it’s harder to be a hypocrite when you have an audience) I’ll just have to keep taking some very small steps in the meantime.

But until I get past my fear I’ll just have to content myself with watching other people project the beautiful, organic life they (want all of their followers to think they) live on my Instagram feed.

#sigh

Alex x

PS: And happy Mean Girls anniversary, bitches. #tenyears #sofetch

the worst type of first date.

Why coffee dates are terrible plus an inadvertent ode to brunch (and wine).

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It could be love… (Photo taken at Kava Cafe.)

Q: “Hey. Well, if Wednesday night doesn’t suit you we could just go for coffee?”
A: “Hmm. Let me take a moment to think about this… Umm. No. HELL NO!!!!”

I’m sorry to say it, but the thought of going for coffee on a first date makes me feel mildly nauseated. I would go so far as to say that it would be my least favourite first date activity imaginable. Coffee date first dates are The. Worst.

Am I over-reacting? Definitely. But let me explain why, my caffeine loving friend.

Now, those of you who know me In Real Life will probably already be looking a bit confused. Perhaps those of you who don’t know me In Real Life should be looking confused too. See, there are some things you should know about me:

  1. I love coffee (I think it’s in my veins.)
  2. I love cafés.
  3. I love going to new, interesting cafés.
  4. I love spending lots of time in said cafés.
  5. I can’t whistle for sh!t.

So, you’d forgive any gent for thinking, “Great! Let’s go get coffee!”
But to which I’ll be thinking, “No! Please, no!”
(Cue: that confused face I was talking about.)

Here’s the issue with going for coffee on a first date:

1. The intensity!
Not of the coffee, per se, but that there is nothing to hide any awkward, nervous silence with. Picture this: you and I go out for coffee. We meet at a café at 11am. A waiter takes our order at 11.05am and we have our coffees by 11.15am. So far, so good. However! I like to drink my coffee whilst it’s hot – tepid just won’t cut it. Thus, by 11.18am my coffee’s gone and if our coffee date lasts for an average of 1.5 hours then I have… 72 minutes by myself! 72 minutes!! I may be lucky and have a glass of water to occupy me, but there is really nothing to use as a prop or filler for those inevitable first date awkward moments. Look, basically I’m nervous and I want something to (literally) hold on to that isn’t an empty latte glass.

It’s different if it’s not the first date because you already know the other person a bit and there are generally fewer nerves involved seeing as you’ve already been able to ascertain that they are not a serial killer and that they do, indeed, like cheese. All of the essentials. 

2. The blatant lack of alcohol.
I enjoy alcohol (especially if it’s in the form of a whisky sour or glass of cab sav) and coffee dates don’t typically involve alcohol. Here’s why that’s a problem: I can guarantee that our date will be more enjoyable if there is alcohol involved because alcohol makes me happy and calms my first date nerves. (Ok, at least I’ll find it more enjoyable!) And yes, I know that I am sounding like a self-centred alcoholic in the making, but just trust me: on a first date with a girl named Alex beverages of the alcoholic variety are a very wise idea.

3. The lack of originality.
I apologise if I sound like I’m high maintenance, but, seeing as it’s our first date, aren’t we trying to impress each other a little? Well, if so then, quite frankly, a latte isn’t probably the best way to going about doing so. Unless we went on some amazing little cafe scavenger hunt – that would be fun! Except…

4 …I’m only going to drink one coffee.
Therefore, the dilemma is not going to be solved by just ordering another coffee every ten minutes. Whereas, if we were getting (alcoholic) beverages then I wouldn’t have any qualms about ordering another glass of wine… (See: Point 2 and Alex’s Appreciation of Alcohol, 2014).

Thankfully, there is a very simple solution to this conundrum: Food. And not just any food:

Brunch. Brunch is the answer, bunnies.

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I’m pretty sure that no date has ever suffered from the addition of French toast… Just saying.
(Photo taken at the Belaroma Coffee Centre.)

Why? Well, not only do have some time fillers with menu deliberation and chewing, but you also get to devour something which is hopefully delicious. Because frankly, if the date isn’t that great at least you can come away with a happy stomach. Priorities, people. Which is why I would like to suggest that brunch is the answer to our collective quandary. Poached eggs with smoked salmon and avocado on toast to fill those conversation gaps? Hey – why not turn that into conversation itself! You could, for example, discuss whether you’re a classicist (bacon and eggs) or an avant-garde (quinoa porridge) bruncher.

Now, those of you who are rational and measured may be thinking, ”But brunch costs more than just coffee. What if I’m not rolling in it? What if I don’t want to potentially pay for my date too?” Good questions, buddy. This is one of the reasons why brunch is good! Yes, it will cost more than a $3.5* flat white, but brunch is generally quite a bit cheaper than going out for lunch or dinner, with plenty of options between $7.5-15. I’d suggest viewing it, regardless of the date, as an investment in your own happiness.

And when it comes to who pays? Personally, I’m more than happy to pay for myself and I’ll always offer to do so. If any of you darlings encounter someone who assumes that you’re going to pay for them then perhaps you should send them my way and I’ll be happy to inform them that he or she is being a bit of a twat.

And, on that note, I am going to go and indulge my love of wild mushroom bruschetta.

Happy brunching.

Alex x

* All prices in AUD, lovers.

An editorial aside: Please note that this is most definitely a sponsored post because I am a Really Big Deal who is being showered in endorsement opportunities. Duh.

a grey anatomy.

Break glass in case of emergency.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that actually, sometimes life isn’t happy go-lucky. Sometimes it is terrible. Sometimes it is hard and harrowing and just horrendous.

This is a post for and from those times.

****

It was meant to be a normal afternoon.

It certainly looked like one; sporadic clouds lined the sky – insignificant dabs of whitewash, powerless to the spectrum of blue.

But when I turned the corner everything changed.

What? What is happening? 

No. But this doesn’t happen in real life. Not mine, at least.

I desperately seek tears. Where? Where are they? 

I’m sure we’ll find them somewhere. But I shouldn’t have to search for them in the first place…

I can’t find them. I can’t find them anywhere. The adrenalin envelops my emotions and freezes my tear ducts.

And now I am composed of equal parts steel and lambswool and filigree lace and broken glass.

But I do not have the time to analyse my new composition; I have to make sure that everyone reaches the life raft before time runs out.

It is easier to pretend that nothing has happened, but it just causes more ruptures. But if I’m to acknowledge what has happened then it is going to be real. And I don’t know if I can deal with “real” just yet.

Linoleum floors. Fluorescent lighting. Under other circumstances I would recoil at the thought of the number of bacteria colonies on this plastic chair.

An attractive emergency worker walks towards us, setting a series of waves in motion. The guilt pummels me, taking me crashing onto the sandbank with it. I am left clutching my pressed powder and various lip products in a pathetic attempt at normality.

I think my facial muscles have been paralysed. There is no movement. They can’t lift up out of their darkness. Why can’t they find any strength?

I play scenarios through my head to fill the minutes with something, whilst desperately gasping for air. It hurts.

Everything hurts.

Hours have passed and I realise I need to be at work. Now.

The taxi driver politely turns his face away from his rear-vision mirror and the girl who has finally found them – she finally found where the tears were hiding.

Wiping mascara off inky, watercoloured cheeks doesn’t really equate to a “daytime smokey eye”, but I pretend that this was the look I was going for this morning. This morning was so long ago.

The regular route, the regular turns, the regular streets descend into a blur and a fight against the sting in my eyes. My lips tremble, quivering in an attempt to suppress this for just one more minute. Just one more minute of pretending and then I can be alone.

Eventually I find my way back home. The keys and chords tear through me; the raw cuts and grazes that are stinging so badly ooze onto the monochrome notes.

I do not know.

I do not know how to act. I don’t think I’d know how to behave normally even if I tried.

I’m just trying to make sure that this life boat stays afloat for each of us.

So much has changed and we’re pretending that there has just been a slight rearrangement of the furniture; whereas, in fact, we’ve moved house, state and country in the space of minutes.

Chocolate. I need something real and normal and safe and sweet.

I can’t remember the last time I cried myself to sleep. I think the shock is wearing off and the reality is beginning to settle in.

It’s 3am.

I wake up to bleary, puffy eyes and hugs; drifting in and out of sleep.

My dear friend is a welcome comfort, thawing these frozen rooms.

I’m still trying to process it all. I still don’t know which words could possibly describe how I’m feeling.

We sit in the sunshine in our pyjamas without sunblock.

It’s 2pm and I clumsily go through the motions; the motions of normal people on normal days in normal supermarkets.

Elton John accompanies me on the bus that evening. Blue jean tears are sewn down my cheeks and waltz over my lips. The elderly couple diagonally across from me look on at that twenty-something girl who is crying on a packed bus headed towards the city. And the makeup I’ve just done becomes redundant.

The helplessness envelops me. I just don’t know how to support everyone else in their pain. I just have no idea what to do.

And I still don’t know how to express how I’m feeling.

It’s 3am.

My body responds to the torture with a sore throat and blocked nose. Evidently I was not having enough fun before this.

I have the idea to do Stuff – all of the mundane stuff that needs doing in an attempt to help everyone else and to try and stop my mind from remembering.

We’re eating our favourite comfort food and the Elephant is dining with us, too.

I’m empty.

I have no air; I can’t breathe.

Everything’s spinning whilst remaining still and I’m swaying back and forwards in synchronisation with the shock, not knowing what has hit me.

All I can register is this foreign, yet familiar pain seeping through me – stretching from inside, searing and reverberating into nothingness.

It’s 12.26am.

I go to bed in the hope that there will be many hours between now and dawn.

 

Alex x

An editorial aside: I am not presently in “crisis mode” – this happened a while ago.

#socialmediafails: part two

Facebook “friends” and friends on Facebook.

ImageI think Ed and I could be friends.

Sometimes the strangest things happen on buses. Whether that be entire wardrobe changes, the disintegration of relationships played out in front of 60 relative strangers or procreation*, Sydney’s public transport certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to… colourful moments.

I had another one of those moments recently – except everyone remained fully clothed and no one shouted at their relatives. Yeah, a little less sexy and scandalous.

I was on my way to uni (truly groundbreaking stuff). As I walked up the back of the bus I spotted a girl whom I’m Facebook friends with sitting just in front of the seat I had my sights on.

Insert the part where we may eye-contact and say hi to each other and briefly catch up.  Insert the part where we don’t make eye-contact and don’t say hi to each other – even though we are now sitting 40cm away from each other.

Sorry. Let’s pause and recap. My “friend” is sitting in the seat in front of me and I am not going to say hi to her. Huh?

Just quietly, WHY THE HELL ARE WE EVEN FACEBOOK FRIENDS?!

Calm down, Alex. 

See, you could be deceived into thinking that we are actually friends. I mean, I know what she is studying, whom our mutual friends are, whom her family members are, whom her boyfriend is, what her boyfriend’s job is, her favourite authors and her pet’s name – all courtesy of our Facebook “friendship”. Well, except for the fact that we’re “friends” who have barely ever had a conversation with each other. But conversation is so passé, darling.

I’m still unsure whether I didn’t say hi because of the social conformity and norms which dictate that we don’t speak to people in certain settings or because the word “friend” has been diluted and no longer carries the value it once had. Either way, I have no idea how this girl and I even became to be Facebook friends in the first place.

****
Since then I ended up hanging out with another vague “friend” of sorts. Yep, another one. She’s a lovely person, but we’ve spent very little time together over the ten years that we’ve known each other. Anyway, we’ve kept abreast of what’s happening in each others’ lives by reading one another’s blogs, Insta-stalking travel photos and having the odd two minute catch up whenever we bump into each other, which counts for something. Right?

Ahhh. Hmm. Perhaps not, Alex.

See, spending some time with her the other week allowed us to go past the superficial “how-are-you-what-are-you-up-to-at-the-moment-oh-that’s-nice-bye!” And it was a pleasure to have done so, because I learnt so much more about her and her life that I could have ever done by Facebook-stalking her. We talked about the future, family dynamics, AFL-honed muscles and unexpectedly enchanting cities.I think social media only allows us glimpses into each others lives, and we orchestrate the glimpses we let others see – myself very much included.

I was reminded of this when I was catching up with a friend over coffee. (An actual friend this time.) Look, it was nice, but I was acutely aware of the fact that the main way in which we’ve kept abreast of each others’ lives recently has been by liking one another’s Instagram photos, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates. We’ve been friends for years, but honestly, I think that our social media friendship has been a contributing factor to the deterioration of our (actual) relationship. We ask each other about things which we’ve seen the other post about – no longer bothering to feign surprise after waiting for them to bring it up themselves.

It makes catching up somewhat redundant, doesn’t it?

So, with that in mind, I’m trying my best to not write various status updates about my life at the moment. Yes, I think that the Likes would be well into the double digits and gosh, I’d feel sooo totes loved and #blessed. But who am I kidding? My Facebook friends are all nice people, but I’m only close friends with a solid 4% of them and I want to share my news with this 4% in person because they are the people who really matter to me. They’ll be genuinely happy for me because they’ll understand the significance of the things I’m sharing with them.

I guess that’s why I didn’t say hi to that girl on the bus. She’s just a “friend” and not a friend. And those speech marks, small as they are, seem to make a difference.

Alex x

 

* I wish I could say that I hadn’t witnessed that last one in particular, but I kid you not – I did. #stillmildlytraumatised

lessons in lingering.

Image

The moments are melting away and I am trying to catch them between my fingers. But they slip into oblivion because my hands are like two colanders – great for draining pasta, not so great for trying to stop the passing of time.

And it’s passing, and my attempts to hold these seconds and minutes are futile.

So, I turn back to you and inhale, knowing that all I can do is relish this while it is still here.

And we are still here, and the surreal sparkle between us is still here, too; the only welcomed third wheel I’ve ever known.

My hand is upon your chest, simultaneously growing accustomed to the rhythmic rise and fall, whilst reminding myself that this will not last. Why is there so little middle ground?

It’s somewhat like a fine wine: as soon as it is opened it begins to deteriorate. You cannot save it – all you can do is drink and enjoy it before oxidisation reduces it to a stale red liquid.

But what is better? To leave the wine there on the shelf – forever looking forward to it, forever longing to taste it – but never opening it? Or uncorking the wine and, for one short night, enjoying its taste, body and warmth – a truly remarkable vintage – but never tasting it again?

Tasting is the better option, I guess. But then there is the undeniable pain of knowing that you’ll never taste the same vintage again, for that year only yielded one bottle of wine.

I lift the glass to my lips and savour the intoxicating flavour on my tongue – willing it to linger a little longer.

Breathe, Alex. Breathe and enjoy it.

The minutes are passing.

Cymbals clash and roar, tearing through the silence beside us, but we remain unmoved.

 ****

“Off limits”.

Of course I understand it in theory when distance allows me to be rational. But theory and practice are two very different things…

They are the person whom you are under no circumstances allowed to be romantically involved with.

The teacher with the sardonic smile, the tutor with olive skin and more sass than Beyonce, the boss whom you find inexplicably attractive, your best friend’s ex, your brother’s ex, your best friend’s brother, your sister’s boyfriend’s brother, your best friend’s boyfriend’s ex, your best friend’s mum.

All off limits. There are principles and limits. Society says there is right and wrong and that this? This is simply impermissible.

It’s unfair. It is decidedly unfair. Why can’t this last? Why can’t you stay? Why won’t they let us?

Because there are principles to uphold.

But what if there is something there – something with the potential to become something real and brilliant?

There are principles and there is the collateral. What about all of the people who would get hurt in the process? How about all of the relationships you’d damage? Are they worth it? You know it is selfish to say “yes” when doing so will upset someone else.

But what about my own happiness? What if saying “no” means missing out on something rather wonderful?

Damn principles.

****

Then reality comes hurtling in like a car roaring up to the front door.

And before I know it, this is over.

There are niceties to fill in the final seconds.

And then we turn back to our mundane days.

****

I can remember the contours of your face,  but your scent has become blurred in my mind. I can only recall that I liked it – and that it wasn’t Lynx.

I can’t remember your voice. I didn’t have time to burn it into my memory.

And I’m still unsure whether I would have preferred to have ever uncorked that wine or not.

Either way, we made our choice and now we’ve finished the bottle.

And I’ll never taste it again.

 

Alex x

 

to my sweet peach.

d14b902c766711e2bd6322000a1fa42a_7

 

Fun fact: the literal translation of au revoir is “until we next see each other”.

 

The week ahead is going to be a big one. Really big. Sad big.

See, I’m leaving a job I adore – out of choice – because I want to pursue a job which is more career-oriented. I have been nannying my little girl for close to two years and my lord have they been brilliant. I’ll still see her family on a regular basis, but I feel heartbroken knowing that this is our last week together.

Being a nanny can, in some ways, be mildly petrifying. Not only because you have the responsibility of looking after a little life, but because whether or not you want to, you know that you will be influencing and shaping that little life. And frankly, I don’t always have my sh!t together. Frightening stuff.

So, I want to write an open letter to my little girl… my sweet peach, darling girl, bubble, rascal, honey bear, roo roo.

****

My darling Roo,

This is our last week together, bubble, and I don’t want Friday to come. 

I know we’ll still see each other often (minimum once a fortnight as promised), but I know that my new job will not bring me the immense joy which I receive when I’m with you. I won’t be paid to laugh, to go on adventures, give you hugs, to sing in the car or do weird science experiments together – but you know I’d do all of that for free. Anyway, I won’t be paid to do your washing anymore either – so I guess there are one or two perks.

I don’t think that I am necessarily an exemplary or well-qualified role-model, honey bear, but I’d be ignorant to think that all of the time we’ve had together hasn’t left an imprint upon both of us. Some of those things I hope you haven’t picked up from me (we won’t go into them now), but I do hope that you have learnt some helpful things from our time together…

  • I know you bemoan the fact that I am constantly onto you about a) chewing with your mouth closed and b) not using your fingers to eat instead of cutlery, but there may be a time when you are about fifteen when you’ll go out for dinner with your friends for the first time. Very grown up. During dinner you may observe that some of your peers are talking whilst eating and have their elbows on the table and you may feel a tad awkward watching them. Look, it’s not life or death, but basic table manners are an important social skill – and that’s why we bother to correct yours now.
  • It’s good to do things which aren’t on screens. I know you love playing on your iPod and iPad, but there are lots of things which are as, if not more, engaging, stimulating and fun which are not made of pixels  – like your hula-hooping, drawing and singing. You may even find that life is more fun when you lift your eyes from the screen. (And yes, I need to do more of this myself).
  • There have been times when you’ve encountered mean people. It sucks to be hurt and rejected by others, sweetheart. I hope it helps you to remember something that we’ve discussed together: we can’t change that person, but what we can do is to ask ourselves “what can I learn from them?” And what we can learn is to not be like them. To quote one of my favourite books, The Bike Lesson, “This is what you should not do, so let that be a lesson to you.”
  •  It doesn’t matter whom you love, darling. It’s fine to love girls or boys or no-one. If you do end up married or in a long-term relationship later on in life, that’s lovely – but having a partner does not make you any more or less valuable a person. You will always be loved immensely by mummy, daddy, your friends, family and I.
  • I know you can be cautious about trying new things, peach, but if you don’t try new things how will you ever find out whether you like something? When you do try something new remember to be kind to yourself – it’s unlikely that you’re going to ace it straight away. You need to practice and persevere. In saying that, it’s important to know your limitations.  I know you’ll smash the green monkey bars and be ready for the pirate ship ride at Luna Park one day, honey.
  • Something which I’ve learnt over the past six years is that perfection, in my opinion, is not truly attainable… and if something is “perfect” it’s probably not going to be much fun. Perfection’s pretty boring. My advice? Don’t chase after perfection – it will leave you disappointed.
  • You are wonderful just the way you are, my love. There will probably be times in the future when you wish you were shorter or you didn’t have glasses. You may wish that you were more popular or smarter than someone else in your class. Everyone has different strengths, Roo, and we each have our own character – that’s part of what makes life interesting. Imagine how boring it’d be if we were all the same! You have been blessed with a wonderful sense of humour and a kind, generous heart and they are things which I didn’t and couldn’t ever teach you – this is innately who you are and I hope it never changes.

I’m sorry for all of the times when I’ve been impatient or self-centred. (See: the list of things which I hope you don’t pick up from me). You are probably unaware of it, but you often bring out the best in me. When I’ve had down days I’ve been able to drive over to your place knowing that just being with you would lift me out of my rut. That’s the kind of person that you are. And I’ve spent the past year and nine months thinking that I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have you in my life. 

See you on Tuesday morning, peach. I love you very much.

Your Alexie x

it’s a date.

Is it really?

Image

Image courtesy of We Heart It.

“One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what?
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.” 

― Baudelaire. 

I’m trying to decipher this and, well, I’m just not sure. Perhaps you’d be so kind as to help me?

If so, let me recreate the scene for you…

****

We’re friends. Just friends. Vague friends with some mutual friends.

And we decide to go out one night because I owe him a drink. Inconsequential, n’est-ce pas?

My tutorial finishes in the early evening and I bring some extra makeup with me in a vain attempt to freshen up the foundation that’s starting to slip down my cheeks. I have no idea why I ever bought a pinky-burgundy-brown eye-shadow palette. Pink on your eyes, Alex? Good lord.

untitledIs it a coincidence that it’s called “Blushed Wines”?

I get the off the bus and walk the last 200 metres. This is the time for multi-tasking as I reach to unravel my bun whilst crossing the road. I glance a figure I recognise out of the corner of my eye, but I am trying to play it cool so I pretend to not notice. But he notices me and we greet each other in the middle of the road, whilst still striding towards our meeting point.

We cross the road and descend into a bar that is rimmed with impersonal opulence with a dash of Pre-Raphaelite charm on the side. Cocktails. We order cocktails under the dim lighting and we discuss the world. The minute mingle smoothly and I find myself laughing and enjoying this more than I anticipated.

One drink turns into two. Two drinks turns into three. Three drinks turns into dinner.

Our brisk heels tap their way down George Street. Darling George has seen a fair bit of my antics life over the years. We turn down a lifeless alleyway, cos that’s where all the cool bars can be found.

Now we’re drinking wine. We share a bottle at our table for two, because it’s economical and because tomorrow can wait.

I’m too busy enjoying my dinner and the company to notice that we may look like a couple. Anyway, we’re just friends.

****

The following week something is niggling in the back of my mind, but I Can’t. Put. My. Finger. On. It.

So, I keep on mulling.

Mulling. Mull. Mulled wine. Wine. Wine!

A + B = C, right?

Therefore, someone who is a lovely person + great company + intelligent + amusing + rather good looking = unexpected attraction.

Wait. What?!? Are you serious?!

****

Let’s do a quick recap: two friends go out for a drink… which turns into multiple drinks and dinner. They have a good time. And then one of them wonders whether they are attracted to the other. But they’re friends.

Now, as I said, I needed your help. See, I have a conundrum:

Was that a date?

Alex x