Chapter.

It was like I was reading a really familiar book. One that was unequivocally certain in its narrative, and felt like a comfortable acquaintance. One that would guide me, and subtly and gently place that hand on the small of my back and nudge me where I needed to go.

I knew this book well…word for word in fact. I was able to prognosticate the next conjuncture, the next development and how it was going to be concluded. But I must have got complacent along the way. Assumed I knew how the author was going to tie the loose ends together, and I jumped ahead a few chapters. Skim reading here and there, and not truly paying attention because why should I? I know what’s going to happen.

But now I’m not sure where I am. I’m not sure where the protagonist is meant to go, and whether or not she should be where she is. I can’t skip ahead anymore because this book is nearly finished, and I can’t go back because the comfort that I used to get from the familiar only makes me unhappy now.

I’m confused, having missed pages and the change of character. I don’t recognize her at the moment. The plot is spiraling.

I can only hope that the sequel will rejuvenate and revivify that life inside the pages.

 

chapter
ˈtʃaptə/
noun
 
  1. 1.
    a main division of a book, typically with a number or title.
    “we will deal with this in chapter eleven”
    synonyms: section, division, part, portion, segment, component, bit;

    “the first chapter of ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’”
     
  2. 2.
    a distinctive period in history or in a person’s life.
    “the people are about to begin a new chapter in their history”
    synonyms: period, time, phase, page, stage, episode, epoch, era

    “it was the start of a new chapter in the country’s history”

10 things that surprised me about NYC.

1. People were fantastic and proud and incredibly helpful towards three bewildered and bowled over British girls.

2. The subway system was ridiculously hot (some guy shouted at us as we descended into a subway station “Don’t do it girls! You are entering Hell!”, and it definitely felt like we were being engulfed in flames when we were down there) 2.5 It was also ridiculously cheap…take note TFL.

3. Proposals were a daily occurrence, meaning that life in NYC really is a rom-com, and all my hopes and dreams were solidified as potential realities (Top of the Rock, Central Park, Statue of Liberty were just a few of the locations of love), and if I don’t get proposed to in NYC I’m can’t guarantee I’m going to say “yes” if I get asked anywhere else.

4. An NYPD officer slipped me his number and then I seriously felt like my life had peaked as I had lived a real life rom-com scenario and I’m certain that he was the ‘one’.

5. I bumped into someone I knew, as did the two people I was travelling with. THE WORLD IS SMALL! and it was also extremely comforting to be on the other side of the world, without parents, common sense (never actually having any health or travel insurance documents on us) and suncream, yet seeing someone from your prequel movie was there to provide you with a warmth that the subway and summer sun couldn’t.

6. Central Park is bloody massive. We had to get the subway from one end to about half-way through the park because we were too exhausted (and way way too sweaty) to walk the whole thing. Also I read the map wrong and we were on the completely wrong side of the park to our hostel and therefore had to do more walking anyway. karma!

7. We watched the sunset from different locations across the city every night and I’ll never be able to summarise how magical and special that was.

8. Falling in love with hostels.We probably stayed in the most well-to-do hostel, as it came with its own cinema room, herb garden, deli style canteen, chill out room and fab bathrooms. We got to meet so many cool and interesting people in the ten nights we had there, and every single person we encountered became part of our stories and played a part in our lives in the most subtle and sweet ways. Going out for dinner together, going to the hostel bbq, staying up late talking about the Beatles, waking up the 7 other girls in the room to announce that Kate Middleton was pregnant, everyone showing and sharing their purchases of the day and their tips and tricks discovered in the city. It was the best sleepover, despite it being with total strangers.

9. Feeling like I was home. The city was so welcoming and so suited to our needs that nothing ever felt like an effort. It was blissful. The never ending noise, the humidity, the grand overwhelming scale of it all are not usually associated with bliss, but it’s all part of the gorgeous concoction on offer, without it it wouldn’t feel complete. Like a cup of tea without a chocolate hob-knob.

10. Changing my whole entire life plan in order to find ways to go back. NYC is the most intoxicating drug, and I’m desperate for more.

How to Feel Like You’ve Got Your Life (sort of) Together.

I’m a far cry from being able to dish out help and advice. I can’t drive, I can’t cook (won’t cook), I’ve moved back into my family home, and still spend an unhealthy amount of time complaining about things online/looking at pictures of Zac Efron. Basically, it feels like I’m still fourteen (plus to make it seem like I’m in my early teen years even more I still sleep with my retainers in; so glamorous)

But through the power of pinterest and perfect filters I’ve found that a sense of stability can be brought into my doubtful mind. When I look at my tip of a bedroom, knowing my towels that have been thrown damp onto the floor are desperately in need of a wash; when I’m feeling sluggish and lazy (currently I am half lying/half sitting in bed, cup of tea balanced so stupidly and dangerously on my chest whilst I try and type on my laptop, knowing that I could knock hot burning liquid onto my hands and keys at any second, but am too apathetic to move it onto my bedside table…I clearly live life on the edge, and am a natural born thrill seeker) all I have to do is open my instagram account and stare wistfully and proudly, awe-stricken and impressed at the lives some people let us believe are a possibility.

Kate Spade’s instagram account is something I wish my dreams could conjure up. It’s warm, classy and loving, and so polished that every time I scroll down it I can only see my own poor life choices being reflected back at me. I can’t dress for brunch in the city, buy fresh flowers from independent florists (who have equally stunning and drool worthy accounts), wear outfits that can take me from day to night (unless it’s a pyjama day). Afternoon tea is not a daily occurrence and I’m too spiteful towards myself to live by the Kate Spade mantras (despite buying as much of their catalogue as I can) But against all this I still feel calmed by looking at how in control and composed life can seem through filters, natural lighting and a perfectly formed caption.

Sure, I’m just pining potential plans, and liking other people’s lives, but every picture or flatlay is a little piece of perfect to me. I appreciate the time and effort that went into the organisation and creation of making a pose seem like the natural everyday. I love to think of some magical land where life really can be a 24 hour bottomless brunch (but you forever swim between being tipsy and verging on the over-sharing, where little snippets of life and feelings run out of your mouth and into someones mind, but not enough to think “ah, I just told someone about my bowel movements and passionately argued the point that Tinder is the new progressive way to date”. Basically you won’t ever find yourself throwing up in the bath again) I love that it’s all pretend. I love that it’s all an image. I love how life can be devised and fabricated to inspire and to belittle in the same process. To show you what you don’t have, but what you could have. To know that some worldly otherness is dancing around in cities, with no restriction on resources provides a warm magical comfort to me. The possibility of ‘maybe’…’maybe’ I could have this one day.

I am more than happy with what I have in life, and am so lucky to be where I am and to be with who I am. But everything looks better with a higher contrast and a well chosen filter. But too sometimes still feel like I’m stuck in a limbo within my life, it’s a pleasurable thought to know that the darling scenes that I stare at are all thought about and planned and constructed. I love them for their visuals, but I love them even more for the fact that they are artificial. It reminds me that what I see isn’t spontaneity and it’s actually more of a craft.

Basically, instagram I love you. You make me feel like I can get my shit together, even when I have greasy hair and have run out of dry shampoo. You make me believe that I can wear high-heels to go boutique shopping in, and can drink champagne as freely as I do tea. Never change. (No but please, never change. That whole stunt a few weeks ago about having to turn notifications on was not cool…and I like the cool look, because a hudson filter is the best)

Lou x

 

 

 

 

 

Ride or Die

One of the only things that gets words scrambling to the front of my mind, and running hot down my finger tips, is the thought of my future. There’s something so terrifyingly exciting about the un-known, something so electrifying and spine-tingling (and sometimes mentally draining) about the fortune that fate will bestow upon you, because it’s filled with so many what if’s. When thinking about future possibilities, and certain wants and needs that I long to complete, I get the feeling that washes over you when you’re queuing up to board the biggest ride at the theme park; you know that you may shit your pants, but it’s going to be so exhilarating, and you’ll probably get some awful photo to commemorate the event.

Stained underwear probably isn’t the best imagery to use when thinking about the future, but it helps to add to the reality that there’s a chance that things in the future could get a bit messy, but the build up and the fact that you actually finally did the thing that you wanted to do -and it was a success- will be the most extraordinary rush you could experience. You survived, and people will be more concerned with the journey you had, rather than the outcome…and you’ll have some great bragging rights.

You couldn’t fast track this ride that you had so desperately longed for. You waited equals part patient and anxiously agitated. The wait was long enough for you to talk yourself in and out of your situation at least 8 times, you saw the exit signs and thought about ducking out, but knew that you had already committed and were in too deep. When it’s your chance to board the ride you see others who have just completed their journey ablaze with wide refreshed smiles, laughing (and maybe a little damp). You strap in, suddenly worried about your safety and if you’re sure you made the right choice, and just as you’re about to check your belongings are all secure you are catapulted into the full intensity of your decision with no chance to back out. Strangers next to you suddenly become your lifelines, and as you scream internally and externally “FUUUUUUCCCKKKKK” you are too focused on the force that you are currently being propelled at to be concerned about the fact you once had doubts. The rush is so indulgent and consuming and worth so much more than the sickening feeling of indecision.

When talking or writing about your future you become bolder and fuller, you are the active and the dominant creator, and you can control the outcome, and the element of uncertainty coupled with determination makes me feel like some renowned story-teller. I could sit here and say that I will do this, and I will do that, and something about putting words to paper (screen) gives me a sense of responsibility to complete and fulfil the adventure that I had set out for myself in the novel of my life.

I long for something I’ve never had. I long for places that I’ve never been too. I am so excited and challenged by the idea of throwing everything I own into a suitcase, giving my cats one last cuddle and jumping into a plane to go to the other side of the world (also: side note, I would love to one day actually jump out of a plane) but I know I have to be patient. I have to complete my current chapter, and if I skip pages, skim-read or miss out sections entirely then the rest of the book won’t make sense*.

Lou x

(*I learnt that lesson when I skipped to the last pages of The Deathly Hallows and was repulsed and confused by the name Albus Severus, and just rather unbalanced and shaken)

 

Lou v OJ.

I think the moment I realised I would have to be really comfortable in myself-and always pretend I was doing okay- was when sticky warm orange juice, that had been sitting on a table for far to long, got tipped all over me at a wedding when I was nine years old.

My new dress was ruined, I had had my first ever blow-dry for this occasion which was now sticky and crusty with pulp (a sign for my mistreatment and apathy  towards hair care for the years that have followed) and my cheeks were burning red with shame. The waiter was extremely apologetic, and I remember sitting there feeling drips of juice running off my nose and trickling down my neck, and thinking “don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry”. I held it together as strangers who were sat on the table with me handed me napkins and muttered words I couldn’t hear through my damp hair (thankfully the large family photos had already been taken, and digital cameras were not a massive deal 13 years ago, so there is no photo evidence of me sporting the “wet look”)

Despite wanting to sit under the table and pick up pieces of discarded confetti rather than have to show off my sticky shoulders to strangers, I carried on regardless. I know I’m making it sound like I completed a marathon in record time whilst on crutches and suffering from asthma, but I remember my mum and grandma telling me how proud they were of me, and how mature I was for not making a big show or song and dance out of the whole situation (however, at 22 I’d happily try and upstage anyone at their wedding out of jealousy for not having my own)…plus, I knew that the real song and dance was going to be coming later in the form of Dancing Queen, The Cha Cha Slide and The Macarena; which are all guaranteed wedding classics and ones I was buzzing to ‘bop’ to.

I can’t really remember much else from the wedding day of my distant cousins. I know that I effortlessly rocked a hat (see post here about my hesitation towards headgear as an adult) and that my dress was accidentally exactly the same colour as the bridesmaids. But really the standout moment was the entire jug of orange juice finding itself in my lap (for me obviously, not the bride and groom). As aforementioned I was horrendously embarrassed, and this vivid childhood memory (trauma in terms of haircare) has stayed with me. I’ve been thinking about this recently due to the fact that we have been discussing feelings and emotions with the class of children that I work with.

We have come across the feeling of “embarrassed” quite a lot in our discussions, and not one four year old has been able to think of a time when they have felt this way. They are quick to say when they have felt angry or cross (“When mummy wouldn’t let me eat my penguin chocolate bar in the bath”), lonely (“When I have to go to after-school club”), worried (When mummy has to use the map on her phone when I go to swimming lessons”) happy (usually something to do with toys or sweets) but not once, even after detailed explanations of what it feels like to be embarrassed, has a Reception child been able to understand that emotion. These little kids just warm my soul sometimes, and make me feel all fuzzy (not an emotion that we would find on our Feelings Word Mat in class) because they’re such fab little humans. They have got so much personality and seem so sorted with themselves and who they are, that they don’t have time to feel things such as embarrassment. If they get something wrong they simply go “oh” and move on. They don’t get upset that they didn’t know which coins you could use to make 25p, because they’re here at school to learn and they just didn’t quite get it. They aren’t afraid. And I think they would actually laugh if they were to get liquid poured over them at an event (it seems like the new thing at the moment is to hold your water bottle over your head and see if you’ve chewed enough holes in your lid to let the water come out), they’d maybe even feel special about it. So, somewhere between four and nine years old the feeling of embarrassment begins to become part of your feeling repertoire, and I am so curious to find out when. When do you suddenly not want to raise your hand in class for fear of getting it wrong? When do you suddenly blush when you realise your trousers are un-done etc etc.

I’ve had drinks spilt on me on nights out, or through my own clumsiness, and whenever it looks like I’ve wet myself and I have to still parade myself in public/kill it on the dance floor, I just think of how my little kids would handle it, and how I managed to rock the two tone stained dress and slicked back sticky hair when I was nine, I guess I can deal with it now…and plus, vodka doesn’t smell.

Lou x

 

Love When You Yeast Expect It

Today I found myself in a sweet section of Heaven…which also doubled as a fiery pit of never ending Hell for me.

This morning at work I was sent on a bakery run. The term “run” is obviously being used highly ironically here, as although I was mentally skipping with glee on my way to the bakery, there is no way any exercise could counteract the temptations that were throwing themselves all over me when I entered the warm sugary and buttery bakery…despite no gorgeously sinful eclairs or carrot cake wedges finding themselves in my mouth (I was on a mission to feed others, and heartbreakingly it was only my imagination-where I was calculating how many bread rolls I could eat in one sitting-that was being fed) I feel like I gained 5 lbs by just inhaling the air within this heavenly pocket of perfection within my local town.

As I was salivating over cream puffs, dense brownies, cheese melted onto pastry and smothering itself over fresh warm bread, I had to turn and look out of the window whilst I waited for my order, for fear of myself smashing the glass cabinets and shoving as much pastry in my mouth as I could. It was when I was in want of a distraction of any kind that I began to slowly smile to myself (partly out of pain as I was biting my tongue and trying to hold my breath in order to force my senses to stop working, as I could have happily let myself drown in the bakery’s perfume of warm rising dough) I found that I was smiling at the wonderful weirdness and cosy comfortability of the town that I call home that I was watching plod along and play out its daily and well rehearsed scenes in front of me.

From my view I could see the local butcher (who also doubles as the town mayor) chatting to local residents, I could see the 450 year old pub getting ready for the lunchtime regulars, the Church and its blooming gardens, the local DIY shop (called Nuts’n’Bolts..so trendy ‘n’ hip) the town green, the grocers…you think small town, and my home has got it. I could see people stopping in the middle of the street just to coo at babies in pushchairs, friends waving to each other through car windows…there was no rush, no need to be anywhere other than where you were in that moment. It was so calm and so passive, and it warmed my heart more than any sausage roll behind me could have done.

Although I dream of vast cities, with towering buildings and a never ending roar of sound, it’s so comforting to me to know that life in my home town -however slow it is- has this never-ending day to day dreamlike slothfulness to it. It’s a very small part of East Anglia, and an even smaller part of England, but it’s mine to call home, and despite how backwards, boring and monotonous it may same to others, I’m fiercely protective over it…and its homemade pies.

Lou x

Overheard whilst I was in the bakery

Child (talking to adult): She (looking at me) looks like she wants to buy a big cake.

Cry Me A River

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With hot tears running down my cheeks I am trying to write to distract myself. My neck is wet from my emotions, my voice thick and heavy, and the tip of my nose painful from constant sniffing.

My family and I are currently watching the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and I have been crying since the moment the film began. I feel exhausted by having felt sadness, anger and pain so forcefully in 90 minutes. Having felt emotions so strongly so quickly, I am now left feeling empty (and actually a little bit hungry…but that’s normal for me)

I have a want to write everyday-a need to prove to myself that I can- yet I can’t find the words inside me tonight. My emotions, inspiration and creativity have fallen away from me this evening, and I can’t conjure up the rise and fall of an anecdote, a rolling rant or review or an explanation on how my sister and I attempted a HIT workout today and couldn’t complete it due to our bodies aching with laughter (not aching from over exertion-we never work that hard)

Now it’s not a surprise that I’m crying at a film. I cry at adverts, at phone-in radio segments, when I see a cute cat or baby. I am a crier for other people. I can internalise someone else’s artificial pain when watching them on a screen, or when I see someone else cry when they’re re-telling or re-sharing, but I very rarely, -actually hardly ever- cry about my own problems.

Yet, it’s those horrible and unexpected bumps in the road, where someone decides to jump out of a moving car, despite you thinking that you were both headed to the same destination, and you’re left alone, unsure how you’re meant to drive the vehicle by yourself now that you have to take control, and suddenly you realise you read the map and all the signs wrong, that’s…that’s when I might cry.

If I am left to be alone, because someone realises they’ve got bored of the journey and that they no longer want me as a road trip companion, I will cry about them only once. I’ve cried four times in my life over being hurt by someone, and I’m still not ready to forgive those people for drawing those hot, disgusting, weak tears out of me. I don’t cry because I’ve been hurt a lot, but when I do I know I never want to feel like that again. I’d much rather cry over soldiers returning home to loved ones, families sharing pregnancy announcements or Noah wrapping Allie up in the red blanket when she chooses him, than I would due to someone disregarding me completely. I love happy tears. When your cheeks are aching from holding a smile you didn’t realise was there, and your hands are clasped together out of a want to hold this moment and your emotions in one place, when suddenly tears dance down your face, and you let yourself relax into the pure beauty of those magical minutes.

My eyes are now aching, and are in want of sleep and to dream of something other than the heartache of New York’s history. A deep cry has purged me of emotion and of my creativity. But I’m also glad of it. Sometimes you need a re-start, a cleanse, and a reason to try again tomorrow.

Lou x

Oskar Schell: Only humans can cry tears. Did you know that?