Twenty-something

the tear.

Lost in choices.

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Serving suggestion: This post is best read with “Eye of the Needle” by Sia playing in the background.

I should have known it was coming; it had been bubbling away under the surface throughout the day. Just a faint little scratch on my back where even my disproportionately long arms cannot reach.

It hit me as I was standing there surrounded by strangers. It had been a while since its last visit, but here it was again as the bleached white horizon melted into a majestic, luminous blue. What were once trees were now shadowy silhouettes in this twilight puppet show.

Here we all are – standing centimetres away from each other, whilst only paying our palms any regard. We wouldn’t be able to hear what our neighbour said even if they did say anything. Those white cords are so tangled up in everything now.

****

I have been drafting this blog post, on and off, for nine months.

Nine months.

It was nine months ago that this new reality suddenly clarified itself. And when it did, it all became rather petrifying.  

It began with the realisation that I am nearing the end of my current life stage. It is all fairly insignificant, but in this moment it feels so daunting. See, up until now there was such a limited range of choices:

You can choose to go to this school or that school. You can choose to be friends with this person or that person, this group or that group. You can choose to break the rules or toe the line. You can choose to go into a trade or stay at school. You can go on a gap year or work or go to university. You can choose to dress how you like. You can choose to study, basically, anything. You can choose to be friends with these people or those people. You can choose where you work part-time. You can choose where you want to live. You can choose to change jobs. You can choose what you consume, literally and metaphorically. 

But the next set of choices is bewildering.

You can choose what you want to do with the rest of your life. You can choose which industry you want to work in. You can choose to travel the world without a return ticket. You can choose to think about the future and save up for your first property. You can choose to move to the other side of the world. You can choose, well, anything.

It just feels like these decisions are going to have so many more repercussions, that they are going to be far more instrumental in determining the tone of the rest of my life than all of the decisions I have made prior to today.

****

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Ahh, kindergarten cliches.

I cannot clearly remember what I “wanted to be” as a kid. Although, I have a vague feeling that there was a stage when I wanted to be a marine biologist (mainly because it sounded exotic). Apart from that I can’t seem to remember, which for someone who often has a disturbingly detailed memory, is mildly disconcerting. I can vividly recall posters on our kindergarten walls, but I can’t remember what I wanted to grow up to be.

These days I have a better idea of what I want to be. And by “better idea” I mean “I have an answer to the “So, what are you going to do when you finish uni?” question”.
“Marketing,” I reply. That seems to satisfy all parties. And, look, it’s not like I don’t want to work in marketing. I do. I think I do, at least. I mean, it combines many of my skills and interests, plus it is a growing industry where, in relative terms, there are jobs available (the novelty!) I think I can see myself doing well in marketing and enjoying it to a greater or lesser extent.

To a greater or lesser extent.

Unfortunately, I am blessed and cursed with having learnt about the concept of fulfilling work. On the one hand, it is wonderful and inspiring. On the other, I am letting it paralyse me, because now, although I try to rationalise it, that is what I am seeking.

I am going to start working full-time in the near future – something which many of my peers have already been doing for multiple years – and I just want to know that I am making the right decision for me. I feel like I’ve wasted enough of my early twenties farting around as I struggled through uni (and life in general).

I guess I’ve allowed myself to think that my twenties are the only formative time of my life. Yes, I think they are very formative, but I’ve gotten this idea in my head that I have to get through a heck of a lot of stuff in the next seven years. Lord.

****

Where within the marketing industry should I work? Should I work in media or branding or PR or digital? Should I work agency or client side? Are all of the stereotypes about client and agency sides true? (My experience thus far says “yes”.) Will the work that I do actually make a positive contribution to the world? Will I enjoy it? Will it be fulfilling? Or will it govern my life? Will I chase after success and then realise that it doesn’t actually mean that much?

Or should I just take advantage of the fact that I am young and go and pursue my dream of living in Italy? Should I just ship my ass over to Italia and not look back? But what about buying my investment property? And getting started on my career? And doing sensible setting-myself-up-for-life things that I want to do? And what if I don’t ever come home?

That I have the audacity to complain is, in many ways, truly breathtaking. 

I am in the privileged, incredibly privileged position where I have choice. My pay, even if it’s seen as a “low” starting salary among my equally junior peers, will still place me amongst the most wealthy in the world. My work may not be as glamorous or interesting as that of others, but I’ll probably work in a safe, reasonably friendly workplace with my own computer, stationery galore, clean(ish) carpets, a swivel chair, bins which are emptied on a regular basis, flushing toilets, a kitchen, running water and air-conditioning. There may not be that many women in the boardroom – yet – but women are, on the whole, respected and treated as equals.

Yet, despite all of this, I look ahead and wonder whether I am going to be in the air-conditioned confines of an office for the rest of my foreseeable future with despair. And I wonder, if I choose to channel my ambitions and energy into this part of my life am I going to get to the end of my life – whether that be months, years or decades away – and be satisfied with how I spent the precious little time that I have on this Earth?

****

The buses, these great mammoths, weave through impossibly tight cracks in the traffic. The doors open and we, with our white cords dangling around our scarf-wrapped necks, silently file in. Will I come to know each of these faces, will I watch them silently age, but never know their names?

There are only remnants of burnt orange along the horizon now and what was a royal blue has been submerged in a midnight ink. Where did the sunshine go? I barely know what the weather was like today. Is this what being an adult is meant to be like?

****

The tear. It’s another one of those idiosyncrasies of the English language: it is both a noun (the water-like result of crying which comes from your eyes), a verb (to rip something) and yet another noun (the result of the ripping). 

This is the latter noun; this is my tear: I am unsure which direction to take my life in. I would really just like to be able to do it all. Or at least to do something and know that I was making the right decision for me, knowing that I wasn’t making a terrible mistake and wasting another irretreivable day.

And, ironically, this tear can sometimes result in another noun: the water-like droplets which carve out their path through my makeup. 

Alex x

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secret diary.

The confessions of an over-sharer…
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This bears far too much resemblance to my childhood diary for my liking. Yes, I was a 90s baby. (Image: Justice)

Confessional: I have very rarely been a dedicated diary-writer.

Whenever I did write in my Secret Diary as a kid (which was covered in blue sequin material, thank you very much) I was sure to make my entries original. “Ohmygosh, I like this boy!”, “Ohmygosh, it’s SO unfair!” and “Ohmygosh, she is so mean!” were the ideal complement to my ritual “padlocking” of the said diary so as to ward off the Sibling…who wouldn’t have been interested in reading its contents anyway, now that I come to think of it…

Anyway.

Now, it would be fairly safe to assume that this blog is the adult version of my sequin-spangled, flimsily-padlocked childhood diary, open for the interweb to read, right?

Not quite. (more…)

question nothing // question everything.

Belated lessons and new questions.

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Print by SillyRetroPrints.

Oh, hey there world. It’s nice to see you, too.

It’s been over ten days since I last wrote – which is, in relative terms, such a long time that I was starting to become mildly concerned. But you see, I was being hyper-aware of not forcing myself to write, particularly after having written this recent piece (skip to the second half). Instead I’ve been waiting until it… just happened.

Trust me, I tried to write over the past ten days. It’s not like nothing has happened. Lots has happened, actually. My drafts have ranged from Eleanor Roosevelt to lying, dating to racism, feminism to vegetarianism, career progression to ethical trade. Naturally. My mind has been teeming, but my fingers have been spilling all over the ivory keys of the piano, rather than onto this, their usual, keyboard.

So, here we are after ten days.

I haven’t actually got any idea where this post is going, by the way. Which is somewhat exciting. Living on the edge.

I’ve noticed a shift over the past few years, but most acutely over the past few months.

In many ways I personified the “goody two-shoes” stereotype as a kid and a teenager. Sure, I was sometimes a mean older sister who was selfish and threw temper tantrums, but on the whole I was a Good Girl. I was the kid who loved nothing more than receiving her teacher’s approval. The kid who didn’t ever receive a detention or bludge school. The 13 year old who actively chose to hang out with the lovely yet “less cool”, conservative girls. The teenager who didn’t go to dances at the local boys’ school – not from a lack of a desire, but due to paralysing fear. The teenager who preferred to go to youth group rather than pursue the older boys, Bicardi Breezer in hand. Trust me, I could go on, but I’m going to spare myself any more cringes.

Looking back, I guess I understood the (power) structures which bound my life and I only ever worked within them. I barely even contemplated rebelling – well, not in any traditional sense of “rebellion”.

And, look, there’s nothing wrong with that; it may not have been a crazy, wild teenage experience, but it was authentic for me at that stage of my life.

There is, however, one huge issue with my younger self: she accepted everything that those in authority told her was the truth.

I lapped it up. I believed everything. I guess I was incredibly trusting and, in relative terms, I had no independent thoughts. My thoughts were always someone else’s.

Is this normal? (NB: Not a rhetorical question. I actually have no idea. Was everyone else like this and I’m just sitting here thinking I’m vaguely unique, but actually we’ve all been through this?)

Either way, I guess it all started changing when I came to the realisation at 19 that, in some ways, I was living a lie.

See, up until that point I had always identified as a Christian – the type that, insensitively told my boyfriend at the time that, actually, he wasn’t a real Christian. God, I was charming. If that former boyfriend is reading this, I’m sorry; I was such a twat.

Anyway. I was a Christian. It was what I had grown up with; it was what I had been told from a very young age was the truth. And look, my parents’ intentions were and are good – of that I have no doubt.

But then I came to realise that I had never actually stopped and thought any of it through; I had always just taken what others had taught me to be the only truth and the only way of seeing the world.

I had never stopped to intellectually, methodically work through the belief system which I was meant to be trying sharing with others for myself. (Scary, I know.) I had never questioned it. I had never questioned anything.

And so began the peeling away of layers – not because I did or do have any issues with those things – including the Christian faith (well, actually I do have some issues with that) –  but because I realised that if I’m going to bother to believe in something then I want to do both myself and others the service of taking it seriously. And taking something like a belief system seriously, I would argue, requires thinking it through – thoroughly – and asking questions. Why invest your life in something which you’re not sure, at your core, that you understand or believe in?

I’ve become acutely aware of this again over the past few months. It all began with my psychology lecturer charging us to “question everything”. In many ways, it was just a throw away line in a junior lecture, fruitlessly hoping to resonate with hundreds of first year ears. Sitting in the second last row of the crowded lecture theatre sat this slightly jaded fifth year student. There was no grand initial impact, but something began to simmer under the surface.

A few weeks later I started noticing things – thoughts, to be more precise. Little additions at the end of a paragraph. Little post-it notes at the end of a sentence.

Why? 

Really?

How?

Why?

How?

Really?

Is that actually true?

How?

What evidence is there? 

Does this actually matter?

Why? 

Do you really think so? 

But how about…? 

Why?

Tell me more.

That which was never part of my nature has suddenly flooded my cerebral cortices (making up for the past two decades, no doubt).  What was absent has quickly become inherent. And I love it. I am finally getting to grips with those “critical thinking” and “analysis” things that my various teachers have been talking about for years. I think I am finally thinking about new things in new ways. Whatever it is, it’s surprisingly exciting and exhilarating.

You took your time, Alex. True.

I certainly don’t have the answers, but at least I have begun posing some questions… right?

Alex x

#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?)

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.

the worst type of first date.

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

Image

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.

Image
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.

double dip.

A post that has nothing to do with hummus (and a lot to do with men).

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Would you give him another shot? (Yes, obviously.) #dishy

What’s your stance on double dipping? Do you see it as the ultimate social faux-pas that is on par picking one’s nose or do you really not give a damn?

Well, for those of you who are interested, I just Googled “does double dipping really spread germs” and the Mythbusters came up with the answer. And their answer is basically “no”. And if the Mythbusters say it’s true, then it’s gospel.

Alex! You said this wasn’t going to have anything to do with hummus! You said this post was going to be about men!

Well remembered, you clever little cracker. Apologies for getting sidetracked.

It had been a considerable amount of time since I had contemplated the conundrum that is double dipping in great depth, but I found myself doing just that at the start of this year.

It all began with liking a photo on Facebook. The start of every great modern love story. 

It wasn’t just any photo – it was a photo posted by a business. And perhaps I happen to know one of the business’ co-founders. And perhaps I briefly dated this co-founder guy and perhaps we agreed that we liked each other and perhaps we didn’t continue seeing each other because the timing was crap. Perhaps.

And so one day I happened to like this photo of his – simply because it was a great photo (and, for once in my life, not as a ploy an excuse to re-initiate communication with him). However, he took it as an invitation to re-kindle things between us.

Well, that sounded arrogant. How on earth did you know that, Alex?  Well, after months and months of not talking to each other there was suddenly quite a bit of communication between us. All initiated by him. All with the suggestion of seeing each other. Oh, and he started liking my status updates on a regular basis.

I was unsure how to respond. It was like having to choose between salted caramel and chocolate fudge ice cream. i.e a tough choice. See, on the one hand, there was some potential that something could develop between us given our previously-established mutual attraction. I already knew that he was a really lovely, talented, interesting guy. Why the hell wouldn’t I go there?

Well, the other half of my brain quite eloquently reminded me that it hadn’t worked out between us the first time round. Yes, the timing wasn’t great – but you can always find an excuse. The reality was that there was a reason why things between us hadn’t progressed (including, but not limited to, some sub-optimal communication skillz), so why would it be realistic to think that things would be any different the second time round?

This was how I came to ponder a non-consumable version of double dipping. That being, is it ever a good idea to give a guy whom you’ve already been romantically involved with another shot? Is it ever ok to “double dip” when it comes to men?

This was what traversed my brain for a solid day (or three).

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I spent this time talking to myself. A lot. Certainly my most endearing quality. For those of you who are new to the gang you can click here or here or here or there to find out what I’m talking about. Basically, I over-think everything and this occasion was no exception.

Spoiler alert: After a fair bit of internal debating I consciously decided to not pursue anything with this guy – which, I have to say, I was so very proud of myself for doing.

Why? Because I realised that, despite the fact that he was and is rather wonderful, I wasn’t actually attracted to him in the way that I had previously been. So, I responded to his messages, but I didn’t actively fuel the conversation. I saw him once briefly in a social setting, but I didn’t take him up on his offer to retrace our romantic steps. Basically, I totally wanted to give myself a handful of brownie points.

The deep irony is that since making this decision, this guy has started seeing someone else (which I found out about courtesy of social media – but of course!) Upon making this discovery, my first instinct was to Facebook stalk the hell out of this new girl… ok, and Insta and LinkedIn stalk her too. Who is SHE? Wow – she is SO pretty. They’re on a weekend away? Man, it must be pretty serious.

I felt torn between being really happy for him (ohmygosh she looks like a gorgeous human who is supremely well-suited to you. Therefore, you should definitely marry her!)* and feeling an odd pang in my chest which manifested itself in the form of a slightly furrowed brow.

Huh? You were the one who said no to him, you idiot! Yes, I know. I know, ok?! But that didn’t stop me from feeling just slightly jealous. Firstly, she is, objectively, a babe. But more so, she is seeing a guy who is pretty great… whom I liked at a stage… and who liked me. Which, in a weird way, makes her my replacement of sorts. Not really, but kinda. Good god – get over yourself, woman!

Feeling these wisps of sadness and envy was quite bizarre considering I’m actually really happy that this now gives me permission, in my mind, to be friends with him (and like his photos) without worrying that he may read anything into it. I knew in my head that choosing to not date him again was definitely the right decision for me – and I hope it was the best thing for him too – but my heart was still half a step behind…

Perhaps it was just my way of processing the loss, of sorts, for what could’ve been.
Perhaps I should just have both the salted caramel and chocolate fudge ice cream, after all…
Yes, I think that’s a good idea.

On that note, Happy Easter, chickens.

Alex x

* I would love to tell you that this thought didn’t actually cross my mind, but lying has never been one of my strengths. Sigh. I’m a work-in-progress, ok?!

#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.

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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