27 Nov 2014

I am officially obsessed with all things Taylor Swift, and have not made any moves to hide it. Her new album is my jam (as Brittany Snow's character in Pitch Perfect would say - although, admittedly, it is not my 'lady jam') and I haven't stopped listening to it since it was released. My housemates, Sam and Thom, are also obsessed. We regularly sing along together, and that very poor quality photograph, above, is actually of us Shaking It Off in a private pod on the London Eye.

Naturally, when I saw this tag over on Mark's blog, I had to get involved. Get on board Swifties, let's share the Tay Tay love!

1. Welcome to New York // If you could live in any city, which would it be and why?
LONDON, BABY! Because I am a Londoner now, and Londoners never want to live anywhere but London. In fact, I'm so London that I made a show of looking at all of the empty seats in the carriage when someone sat next to me on the Northern Line recently. I'm not proud of that. But seriously, tube etiquette guys. Come on now.

2. Blank Space // What is something that everyone thinks is true about you but is actually false?
That I'm naive. I'm not naive. I'm fully aware of the mistakes I'm making. I just choose to make them anyway. Masochistic? Maybe. Naive? Definitely not.

3. Style // What is one item in your closet that makes you feel unstoppable?
... My pyjamas.

4. Out of the Woods // What is one thing that you're afraid of?
Dying alone and being found, three weeks later, half eaten by Alsatians. Oh hang on, that's Bridget Jones' fear... Yeah, still applies.

5. All You Had To Do Was Stay // Who is someone you wish was still in your life?
We don't talk about him.

6. Shake It Off // What is something you have had to shake off?
The bad behaviour of (straight) men. In fact, my housemates and I have taken to having regular Shake It Off dance sessions in the living room, accompanied by wine, and followed up with heartfelt renditions of such classics as 'No Air' and 'Unbreak My Heart.' Honestly though, there is a lot to shake off when you're single, confused, skint, and in your 20's. This song is nothing short of pure gold.

7. I Wish You Would // What is something you'd like to happen right now?
I'd like to meet a winter boyfriend. It's cold out there.

8. Bad Blood // Have you ever had someone stab you in the back?
Oh yes.

9. Wildest Dreams // What would you like to be remembered for?
For being kind. I try my best.

10. How You Get The Girl // What is your favourite pick-up line?

11. This Love // What is something you got back that you never thought you would?
My cat when she ran away for three days as a kitten. I can hand on heart say that hearing her annoying little voice in my garden  - after a weekend of dramatically crying on the sofa - was the best thing that has ever happened to me. LOVE YOU COLB!

12. I Know Places // Where is one place you always feel safe?
Home. Because they say home is where your heart is set in stone, it's where you go when you're alone etc. (song)

13. Clean // What is an important lesson you have learned in life, and how did you learn it?
Bros before hoes. Learned from endless hours spent with friends that have cured the loneliness and heartache caused by (potential and actual) loverrrs (said in a french accent.) There is nothing more important than friendship. Don't ever let anyone trick you into thinking otherwise.

Sam, Thom - your turn.

How To Survive, Pt. Three (The Quarter Life Crisis Edition)

24 Nov 2014

Disclaimer: I drink too much wine. I am not an alcoholic. Proceed.

If you're 25+ and a fan of Buzzfeed (and let's face it, who isn't a fan of Buzzfeed?) you've probably been inundated with links to 'articles' about the 'quarter life crisis' endemic that is taking out 99% of our fragile, social media obsessed generation. Said articles usually reference 'Girls' and 'Bridesmaids,' with the occasional random quote thrown in for inspo. They are usually pretty hilarious. And they're usually terrifyingly accurate.

I had my quarter life crisis this year. And I can tell you - without a hint of the irony these articles are laced with - that it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

From what I gather, this meltdown of epic proportions is triggered by different things for different people. For me, it was relocating to London, and turning 25. In October last year I was happily coupled up with my teenagehood sweetheart, saving for a mortgage, and mentally preparing myself for the idea of marriage and babies within a 5 year period. That month, we moved here, I got a new job, and everything I knew aside from him was left in the dust. I was content, if not always 100% happy. Everything seemed fine.

A few short months later, I panicked. I left him. And I watched as my whole world collapsed around me.

Suddenly - after a decision that was literally made in a day - I was sleeping alone, my bills had doubled, I had no-one to speak to, and I had sole custody of three very demanding pets. Add to this the stress of a job that was still relatively new to me, a city as huge as it was lonely, and - within a couple of months - a dramatic new love interest that would spin my head out of control, and we had a problem on our hands. A(n almost) drink problem, more specifically. I can't even begin to explain how much wine I've gotten through this year...

Silver lining, though, is I got through it. Not unscathed. Definitely not unscathed, but healthy and happy, and able to stand on my own two feet.

Now, after approximately seven months of self loathing, questionable dating choices, and bad, bad decisions, I am able to look back on what has just happened and say that yes, it has probably been the worst year of my life. But yes, it has probably also been the best. Because I have learned more about myself than I've ever learned before. I've formed some amazing friendships. I'm doing well at work. Things might have been very, very bad there for a while. But I've had the time of my life inbetween the down days. Life is good. It just took some time to see it.

And so, in true 'how to survive' fashion, I am here to hand hold you through getting past it too.

Let's begin at the beginning.

So you're headed for crisis? First of all can I just say I'M SO SORRY THIS IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN TO YOU YOU POOR THING. I'm going to follow this up with STEP AWAY FROM THAT MAN YOU WOULDN'T USUALLY LOOK TWICE AT, HE IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOUR VULNERABLE HOTNESS. And, finally, hey there, let's evaluate what the actual f is happening here, shall we?

If you have experienced any of the following, you are probably about to have some issues:
-  Someone asked you and your long term love if you were *WINK WINK* next down the aisle *WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE.* You had to excuse yourself to have a mild panic attack, having just laughed wildly and almost thrown up on yourself at the thought of already having found the person you will spend the rest of your life with. You then told your partner (and probably yourself) that everything was fine. And proceeded to drink ALL the wine.
- The career path questioning spiral. Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Why aren't I earning more money? Is it OK that I like my job even though it isn't what I had planned to do with my life? What if it's the wrong path for me, and it's too late to turn back and start all over again? Followed by ALL the wine.
- You have considered settling for that creepy guy that shouts obscenities at people in the street and drinks cider from a brown paper bag, because you're convinced that if you don't find someone soon you will 'OMG DIE ALONE AND UNLOVED AND WHY DOES NO-ONE WANT ME?' This thought is accompanied by streaky mascara. And ALL the wine.
- Any other line of thought that has left you feeling sad and confused and desperate for a hug. Especially when you remedy it with, you guessed it, ALL the wine.
- All of the above.

So this is what you need to do. First of all put down the wine. We will pick it back up again later. But for now, let's be a bit serious and have a cup of tea instead, yeah? Because tea solves all problems, so say the British (AKA, me.)
Here is what needs to happen.

You need to sit down and really think about your life, and about where these thoughts are stemming from. You need to let yourself cry about the tragic and ridiculous things that are making you feel as though your life is over, and as though you've ruined everything. You also need to allow this to happen, instead of numbing the pain - as I did for months and months and months - with alcohol.

The fact of the matter is, you probably haven't ruined anything. Truthfully, you're probably doing just fine. You just don't know it yet.

Do what you need to do to figure out the cause of your drama, and then tackle it head on. And once you've tackled it? Make like T Swift, and Shake It Off.

"I've figured out what's wrong, and I've made some changes, and things have gotten worse."
They haven't, you just need to get used to the change. Embrace the change. Love the change. Change is good. Change is your friend. Change change change.

"OK. So what do I do now?" Now, you do the following:
- Say yes to new experiences. Always wanted to go to an all night rave in a swimming pool, surrounded by people that don't speak your language, but that respond quite nicely when you stroke their hair and tell them you love them? Go. Fancy breaking into London Zoo after hours, stripping down to your underwear, and taking a selfie with a tiger for your Tinder profile? Do it, man! (Just don't blame me when you find yourself spending a night in a cell for that one, mmmkay?)
- Put yourself out there. Meet new people, make new friends, date. I mean, dating is a fiery hell of confusion and torment, and I hate it, but you've got to get your stories from somewhere.
- Go to lock ins at pubs that keep you up until 8am talking about everything and nothing, and end in you making out with a good friend and asking him if he thinks one day he'll marry you (don't ask.)
-  Allow yourself to feel it all. Even if it hurts sometimes.

For good measure, here is what not to do. Because a quarter life crisis can be a hella bitch, and things can get a little bit dramatic when you let it take over your days:
- Don't wake up still drunk from a heavy night out, get out of bed, and go and get exactly half of your hair removed on a whim, simply because you woke up next to a friend, and he was asleep on your hair, and in your drunken state you thought 'hey that's annoying, better not let that happen again!'
- Don't let a man treat you badly simply because you're sad, and he tells you he loves you. Remember actions speak louder than words. Don't be a fool.
- Don't spend every penny you have on ALL the wine. But feel free to spend the majority of it. As long as you can pay your rent and you don't wake up dead, you'll be fine...

And, last but not least, a quarter life crisis survival kit:
- Your best friend (you'll need her often)
- Waterproof mascara (because cry face)
- Wine (ALL of it)

Now, ladies and gentlemen (do any guys read this? I'm not so sure...) I am off to drink ALL the wine. Not because I need it, but because I want it. And because going through all of this has taught me many valuable life lessons, one of which is the value of quality time with people I love. And that usually involves wine.

Here's to survival. (And wine.)


Related: How to Survive, Pt. 1 (about being heartbroken) | How to Survive, Pt. 2 (about getting over it)
Not related: Cute pictures of animals to cheer you up, you soppy mess, you.

London Is Freezing, It Must Almost Be Christmas

10 Nov 2014

charlotte's web blog
And do you know what Christmas means? It means eating your own body weight in roast potatoes, that's what it means. It means dodgy Christmas jumpers and whole days spent on the sofa watching crap tele with your family. It means wearing layer over layer over layer over layer because if you think London is freezing, you really don't want to return home to the north. It also means presents. So many presents. And although I personally prefer to give gifts than to receive them, I do have a short wish list...

(Sam, if you could pass this on to my Mum, it would be much appreciated. Cheers beautiful.)

1. I have phoned home more than once already this year complaining about how cold I am whilst walking home from work. I feel something (faux) fur, from Joules, could remedy that. If nothing else, it would save me a few conversations about why I should be having soup for my tea - "It's very warming!" "Yes, Mum, but how does that help me right now?" #FirstDaughterProblems #MerryWishmas
2. My last purse recently gave up the ghost. This pixie pouch, from Such & Such, has been on my mind since I came across it at the brand's Brick Lane pop up last month. It's beautiful.
3. Berlin has bitten me with the travel bug. I want to plan more weekends away. Also from Such & Such.
4.  Because Kate Spade. And because 'for the fun of it' is basically my motto these days.
5. And last but not least, a Madame Tussaud's London snowglobe, not pictured. Because not only did I have an amazing time doing all of the Merlin attractions (Tussaud's, Sealife, London Dungeons and the eye - where we had our own capsule at night time, and took advantage of the privilege by enthusiastically shaking it off like absolute pros) with my two best friends this weekend, I also met a cute guy that looks like Harry Potter. These things need to be commemorated in snowglobe form. Don't judge me.

What's on your Christmas wish list?

My New Housemate Has An Awesome Voice, Let's All Listen To Him Sing

25 Oct 2014

I was going to try and write something meaningful to accompany this video of my housemate, Thom, covering a Gabrielle Aplin song at my request/demand - but I love it a little too much to put into words. So instead I'm just going to post it, and run. (By which I mean sleep off a truly horrific hangover, eat some pancakes, and go dance to McBusted and the Baywatch theme at Infernos, surrounded by hot hot rugby boys, and drunk drunk Australians.) Have a good weekend!

{Side note} Other Gabrielle Aplin favourites include: Panic Cord. Home. The Power of Love.
Other Thom favourites include: Absolutely everything he ever says and does (#HousemateLove)

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