Adult Fun

The most fun I have had in ages was an alcohol free romp (my choice, no one else was sober) in a children’s playground, allowing my gyrations to get completely out of control and potentially running the risk of getting kicked in the head when I unfurled myself during a ‘popcorn’ session (It’s when you’re a little ball and other people trampoline around you so you go…well you get the picture). It made me remember that I love this kind of fun and what’s more it’s free so why I’m not constantly running around screaming loudly whilst being chased by my adult friends I don’t know. Ever since then I have been embracing my inner child, much to the concern of my flatmate who just stares at me and leaves the room. I have started skipping again, it’s healthy and great fun. Not necessarily childish at all. When my boyfriend and I have Skype conversations, I have taken to skipping when there is a lull in conversation, just to mix things up. I am trying to convince him to buy a yoyo so we can virtually play together. I mean we’ve known each other since we were 16, that’s some kind of green flag to be able to bounce up and down on beds together and have PG fun right?

It’s a shame that maintaining contact with your inner child is something that is generally an indicator of waning mental health, or a warning sign that you are some kind of sexual predator- no self respecting or upstanding adult with no kids would own a bouncy castle unless he was Tom Hanks in Big or Michael Jackson. I often think where MJ went wrong was his insistence that his playmates be thirty years younger than him, had he called me to Never Never Land, we could have torn that shit up; I’m talking skipping, super soakers, sack race, roller coasters, candy floss…He will never know what we could have had. But back to reality, these situations would either never take place in society outside the progressive/regressive vision of Penny Marshall, or would be met with a string of character damaging law suits and headshaking from all sides. Unless there was a place adults could go for fun that wasn’t a brothel or a bar. On many a sunny afternoon, whilst hogging a swing from a sour faced child, I have looked to the skies and pictured a playground, just like a child’s, only capable of sustaining heavier body weight, with more rubber flooring for the adult who likes to drink and where being childless and wanting to join in on the fun didn’t put you on a sex offenders list. I mean these children games still exist for adults, the swings, the pogo sticks, the running; only now they are more dating metaphors or have been turned into sex toys, so we can all relive the joy of being a child with the adult bonus of bouncing up and down on each other’s private parts with the help of swings and a jump rope. Actually it is quite unnerving that something like a swing can be turned into a sex contraption, there is something Brave New World about the parallel. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong and my love of swings was in fact erotic play. In which case, the dream is alive people.

I suppose that’s one thing I have to be grateful to teaching for; according to a survey of the worlds happiest jobs, teaching ranks in category #1 because it keeps you young. I sometimes wonder which cronies they get to complete these surveys, and definitely need to question why they always looks strangely like Stepford wives, smiling so hard their eyes are nothing more but crescent slits, preventing the misguided reader from seeing into the pitch black, soulless darkness that has been left by successive years of teaching. Keeping me young is the last thing teaching seems to be doing, if anything it’s what other teachers seem to be doing, as we all run out of school at the first ring of the bell, wind in our hair, tongues lolling to one side, heading to the nearest swing set, like a pack of dogs with advanced motor skills. This is not the ‘fun’ I am having with my students. I sure ain’t bouncing around a trampoline with my 17 year old students; more out of fear of what they may try and grab if my popcorn unfurled, and most probably because of the MJ bouncy castle scenario depicted above. Teaching keeps me young? I can safely say that since beginning teaching I have aged considerably, have more white hairs and have said the most ‘adult’ lifeless phrases that younger me swore to older me, we would never say. Phrases like “You need to learn to manage your time better.” Or my classic “ You have to accept the consequences of your actions.” Second only to “Well life isn’t fair.” I feel that sharing the misery that is life through an array of clichéd expressions is one of my unspoken responsibilities as a teacher. If anything my job is to mentally age these teens to punish them for ruining my life with their hormonal inconsiderate nature. I also think being a teacher forces you into a position of hypocrisy. There is no way I can tell students that I am ridiculously disorganised, write memos all over my hands in sharpie, while simultaneously mourning the consequences of my hedonistic actions that are all symptoms of the unfair life I live. I think some of them may have picked up on this when I read notices out in monotone, roll my eyes or burst out laughing at some solid generic advice I have given to them. No, teaching is not bouncy castle fun, but if fucking with their forming minds can be taken as sport, then I suppose not all is lost. However, the mind fuck is a two way street, as I learned when I had to instruct a 15 year old to pull his trousers back up because, no matter how hot he was, it wouldn’t be acceptable in public. His response: “Rules.” Maybe he was onto something, maybe the rules are stupid and the first steps towards strangling our inner child. However, as ready as I am to jump onto a trampoline, I don’t think I’ll be pulling my trousers off on the metro anytime soon. I must have a ways to go.

Tea and no sympathy

So it’s coming up to two weeks since I upped sticks and made a definitive move back to the UK. Tears were shed, a fond farewell said to Mexico, my second home,  and I promised myself to remain positive and not have a panic attack at the impending prospect of unemployment, a full on relationship and living in my mum and dad’s spare room: a tribute to all the free crap you can get with a weekly supplement, or if you actually sent away the 100 coupons you’d collected. It’s now 5.30am and I can’t sleep. I can never sleep. Not unless I have exhausted my body to the point where I can’t walk anymore and have no other option other than to lie down and pass out. I got a gym membership because I read online that if your brain doesn’t get enough sleep it basically dies and it’s a sad time in a woman’s life when she has to rely on her brain to get her out of the idealistic hole she has dug for herself. But now I worry. I catch myself thinking, “It’s all up to you now brain, don’t fail me now,” only to be swiftly distracted by a 9GAG article, or some philosophical reflection Tyrese has posted. After an hour has passed and I realise I’ve done nothing but catch up on the world’s Facebook, that’s normally when I realise I’m screwed. My dad must see it on my face. It’s normally when he offers me a cuppa. He doesn’t have to say it, I can see it on his face, “Well, this was what you wanted…”

See I couldn’t just be a teacher. No, no, no. It’s not that I thought I was too good for it, or not good enough at it, nor was it so much to do with my whining about today’s kids, although it was a lot more to do with how the government determined what made a decent education and how to measure it. If I were to be honest, it was mainly because I hate being scared of things. I don’t like to be ruled by fear, and throughout my life I have always taken massive leaps towards the things that scare me with the intention of overcoming that fear. Not necessarily becoming successful or dominating the thing I fear (I still jump when I see a massive spider) but able to move past that initial reaction. With what end in mind? Well, I don’t really know. The spiders was an innocent thing, I had read Charlotte’s Web and it had touched me how Charlotte had been so caring and giving. I thought spiders can’t be that bad, and forced myself to see beyond a prejudice. Thinking about it now, the personification of animals may have educated me incorrectly and could lead to my untimely death at the hands of a lion who just can’t wait to be king. My point being that I don’t like to be held back by my fears. One thing I have always wanted to try to do more of has been to write. I wanted to try and focus and write a book, but on the way towards doing that writing anything, blogging, also seemed to be a good idea.  When the move back home seemed certain, I thought, why not change it all up? Forget another year of teaching and incessant complaining. What’s the worst that could happen? No one reads it, or reads it and thinks it’s shit, or trolls me to the point of stalker like obsession leading me to file a report with the police in fear of my life. Ok, I read something about that in the Standard the other day and it struck a nerve and added to my Reasons Not to Write Today list. There has been a lot of reading taking place, also a lot of reposting and liking, not as much writing seems to be happening, but I seem to effectively justify that through mumbled excuses about jet lag, depression and not being able to sleep for fear that the Britain’s Animals posters may spring to life and I may all at once be surrounded by Britain’s loveable ,yet ugly small mammals, birds and reptiles. So here I am at 6 am, wondering what the hell I was thinking.

I don’t feel as comfortable with the whole idea now as I did when faced with piles of exams to mark and a bunch of belligerent teenagers to reprimand. Then I felt the same as I did when I was gathering up spiders in the garden to let live in the house so we could peacefully coexist: filled with confidence and pride at the fact I was facing my fears and thus becoming a better person. Maybe the subsequent screams of my mother and arachnid massacre that followed them should have resonated louder in my mind. Yeah, they did not come out of that well. But my intentions were good. As are my intentions here. I mean, what is the point of life right? Or at least that has been my response to the concerned faces that kept staring back at me when I told them I was going to try writing stuff, you know I can be funny, maybe I can do that, write funny stuff, because you only get one life and what’s the point of life if you’re not trying new things and pushing yourself right? It’s hard not to come across as a douche when you say anything other than, Yes! What is the point of a safe and comfortable existence that you spent two years and ten grand that you don’t have, trying to secure, when you can do something that has no security and could ruin you financially? Reading that back to myself I can detect the underlying sarcasm that I chose to hear as unwavering support. My friends and family have been generally supportive of the change. I was smart enough to get my teaching qualification- that wasn’t going anywhere and was always something that I could fall back on. Not unsupportive, just realistic. Put yourself on the supply teaching list, maybe tutor. The only constant voice of concern has been my mother’s. As I work my way through an interminable pile of ironing, that is pointless, (I have no where to hang the clothes when I am done and end up heaping them on the suitcases I am living out of and ironing everything again) but a respite from the writing I haven’t been doing, my mother keeps giving me job suggestions. Secretary. Civil Servant. Accountant. Cashier at Sainsbury’s. This is when I get on my high horse and tell her I need to focus on my writing, I do not want to be a bloody teller at the Santander. “But what writing?” She’s right. Cue me storming off and eating four mini rolls while I make another cup of tea and stare at a screen for 10 minutes before clicking on a link to the worlds cutest dachshunds.

I don’t like it when I get angry at my mum and dad. I don’t think anyone likes getting into arguments with their parents, but it’s that teenage mentality that you revert to when forced to move back into your parental home. I think the only way to circumvent it is to either never leave or never move back. Nothing they have said is wrong or out of turn, they’re from a different generation, one where being safe, secure and having a steady income trumped the intrinsic values of a job. You didn’t have to love it as long as it put food on the table, kept you clothed and allowed you to start a family. Bloody GCSE Sociology. I wish I never learned the word intrinsic. Fat lot of good it’s done me. I only got a B on the exam and now I yearn for a job that I can feel good about, one that makes me happy. Teaching used to do that, but two years of teaching in the UK killed it. I’d like to think that leaving teaching to write and work in the production of literature isn’t simply a capricious move. That I am getting out of teaching before I become bitter and start taking it out on the kids, because that’s where I could feel it was heading. This change was meant to make me happier, restore some of the value to my work, the pleasure in what I was doing. Now I’m back at home and as moody as I was when I was doing my GCSEs. Great success.

The only reason my mum and dad haven’t kicked me out for being a pain in the arse is the fact I am in what they deem to be, a steady relationship. My moody teenage presence seems to be balanced by the good asian boyfriend I have finally procured after 20 years, a beacon of hope in my parent’s childless vision of my future, where I end up a lesbian, driving them to their graves in shame, or I end up getting fat, acquire a trolly full of cats and living with them forever. There was a point when I was living in Mexico where I did gain some weight and two cats. They had given up all hope of grandchildren, luckily my sister got knocked up and they overlooked the unorthodox method that brought my nephew into their world, and I was able to have another five cat filled years without a concerned phone call. So after steeling themselves for years, imagine their joy when I started dating a lovely man, an Indian man who understands our culture and has been talking about a future together and kids. I thought my dad would pass out. All of a sudden my dad has started ignoring my rants and just smiling at me, as if the only thing he can hear when I open my mouth is Ode to Joy. Any complaint I make is swiftly followed by a question about the well being of my boyfriend, almost as if they are trying to remind themselves of why they are putting up with this. However, the idea that I found someone who would tolerate my big mouth may have been a bit premature. It’s only been two weeks. Give me a proper chance to balls it up. Not to say I haven’t given it the old college try, becoming even more intolerable to my boyfriend now that I have even more time to think about my stupid relationship fears and share them with him drunkenly, than when I was contemplating them over a six hour time difference over Skype. It’s a miracle our relationship survived. I argue that we’re together because of stubbornness. In my opinion, our long distance relationship should have been documented and televised for teens, warning them of the dangers much in the same way we taught them about talking to strangers, unprotected sex and drug use. My boyfriend’s sunny disposition allowed him to forget every little fight we had, much in the way a mother forgets the pain of child birth in order to have more kids. I don’t know how he does it. I get exhausted thinking about the plethora of things we argued about and, to be honest, I find the way with which he can just move on from a fight eerie. Who can just forget it? Are all men like this? It’s been so long since I dated someone I honestly can’t remember. Anyway when things were looking bleak he always found a reason to make it work, to stick it out until the end. The distance was always to blame. The common enemy. Not incompatibility, or differing personalities or irreconcilable differences. Things would be better once we were closer. I made promises to myself. I needed to invest myself more, come back home, try harder and things would be okay. What we weren’t banking on was it being worse, or me being more of a idiot in person. Unemployment, alcohol, the burgeoning weight of my insecurities, over my career, my relationship, moving out and the prospect of moving in with my boyfriend when I’ve maybe got enough money in the bank to maybe last me another month, is terrifying and makes me a complete and utter fucktard. My boyfriend found this out last night when I ruined dinner with my inane list of insecurities and negativity. Well, in all fairness he seems to have been finding this out over the past year, but it culminated at dinner when I decided to keep talking out of my arse, which lead to a very uncomfortable evening at the cinema, where we sat in silence and he fell asleep (he actually has a job and gets a bit tired when I unload all this bullshit on him) before going home without saying goodbye. On the journey back home alone, I did wonder once again, what the hell was I thinking. I seemed to be ruining everything. Nothing was working out the way I wanted it to.  It was so much easier whiling the time away as a teacher abroad. Ignorance was a sun-kissed, beach paradise, where drinks were dirt cheap and renting wasn’t as stupid a long term option as it seemed in the UK. I could have slapped myself when the thought popped into my head. Always running away. Wanting to give up. Expecting too much. Talking myself out of my decisions. Scrutinising them into oblivion. It was clear the fear had not been erased. I had merely spread spiders all over the dining room table again and was looking on in horror, just as I did when my mother annihilated them all with a newspaper. Only it wasn’t her this time, it was me: Fucktard.

There has been a lot of change taking place, maybe I made this more challenging than it needed to be; living with my parents, trying to start a new career at 35, with little to no savings and the prospect of moving in with my relatively new boyfriend, who I spent the last year, and the last two weeks fighting like cat and dog with and expecting myself to be ok with all these changes straight away. Maybe I’ve been expecting too much from it all. I’ve never been patient. I couldn’t gradually get over my fear of spiders, or heights, or water. I had to throw myself into the midst of all of it, gather them up by the bucket full, climb a mountain, throw myself into the ocean. They all worked to give the impression of not being scared, but the fear still resides there. My heartbeat still races when I plunge into the sea, or when I am half way up a mountain face. I still find it hard to breathe every time I becomes us, or we in a conversation, and whenever I think that I have to be able to do this, write, all the time and be interesting, or witty or engaging, my heart stops. So is it really worth it? Taking so many risks, staring into the face of your fears and trying to overcome them? Maybe my parents are right, playing it safe never gave anyone a heart attack, or had you living out of suitcases, or considering sex line work for pub money. I’m too tired right now to know for sure, it’s 9am and the builders have arrived. So I will make another cup of tea and stop feeling sorry for myself. It’s my bed whether I choose to sleep in it or not.

Why didn’t I just show her the video of the sneezing panda?

  I have been promising my mum that I will show her how to use the internet for over a year now, well, I say promising, I mean threatening. She is happy to only listen to Capital Gold, which is now playing music from the 90s I hear, and likes to give anything you plug in (with the exception of the iron and microwave) a wide berth. A few years back she finally came around to the idea of owning a mobile phone, which was a huge leap for her. Sadly, she still seems to think it will switch itself on when messages arrive and keeps it in a handbag in her wardrobe for safe keeping. I would just give up, but after years of sporadic contact through Skype (her looking frightened, then slowly and awkwardly over enunciating questions about my eating habits) or the occasional letter reminding me to be demure and quiet if I wanted to trick a man into marrying me, I decided something had to be done. So, as one of various summer projects, I have decided to be her spiritual guide on her journey towards dominating the web. Worst. Idea. Ever.

Why I decided to start with Youtube I don’t know. Maybe because I thought I could show her some videos to make her laugh, move her from radio to moving image. She’d been looking through wedding pictures from a mate’s wedding on my dad’s iPad and seemed to be feeling comfortable with the new technology. Suddenly she remarked ‘This isn’t what a South Indian wedding is like.“ Seizing upon this opportunity to get her online, I suggested that she show me what a traditional wedding looked like and talked her through how to find videos on youtube. Big Mistake. What ensued was a self-inflicted hour of my mother sharing her disappointment at not having a daughter who was married yet through pictures and video. I managed to ‘accidentally’ close the Youtube window of the wonderful obedient girls who had married when my dad got involve. All of a sudden I was being held hostage and shown poorly videoed footage of my cousin’s wedding, while my mum explained each stage and my dad explained why the flute player was excellent marriage material (‘He played at the opening ceremony of the Olympics. What do you think of that?” Strangely enough dad, not much.)

My mum has tolerated my ‘special friends’ for years in the vain hope that I would eventually stay still and quiet long enough to trick one into marriage; for some reason she equates finding a man to marry with killing gazelles when I am concerned. My recent break-up seems to have spiraled both my parents into a panic which forces them to remind me that I won’t be attractive forever and that my eggs have an expiry date, facts that aren’t welcome at the best of times, let alone when you’ve broken up with someone you love. When we finally got to the last photo my mother exploded “These are your people! This is what we do! So just look happy and accept it.” This outburst was promptly followed by her trademark narcolepsy, robbing me of the opportunity to say anything in my defence. It was like a ‘You-should-be-married-by-now’ drive-by. In retrospect, not being in touch when I’m out of the country may not be the worst thing that could happen.

One man’s 7 is another man’s 10

About ten years ago, after yet another afternoon of boyfriend show and tell, a friend remarked that my taste in men was ‘eclectic’. A more honest male friend suggested she was being too kind. There was no taste. I was attracted to the bizarre and quirky. The only unifying quality was that they were recognisable as men.
He may have been onto something.
As someone who always considered herself a woman with personality, rather than a looker, I tried to look for those long lasting attributes in a partner. Someone who reads. A gifted conversationalist. A good sense of humour. Perhaps a collector of rocks that look like celebrities. You know, the important stuff that outlasts great teeth and hair.
These were my people. This was my dating level.

As I have gotten older, the men I date have definitely become more objectively attractive. This is at least what common consensus indicates. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve levelled up dating wise. Perhaps finding my push up bra and contact lenses opened the door to the world of more beautiful people. Perhaps as we’d grown older, my friends and I reached a similar standard, they gained some perspective, and suddenly the quirks that I loved had become attractive to all.

Yeah right.

I was dating prettier, because I was feeling prettier.

In my younger years I was a hoodies and baggy jeans kind of girl. PS3 and beer. I was never a fan of my face or my body shape, so why would anyone else be? I’d always pulled through a comfortability factor.

As I have aged, I’ve become a lot happier with the way I look. Living in Mexico contributed to that. There is a real focus on beauty and appearance for women. Women are very well groomed, dolled up to the nines and curling their eyelashes with a spoon whenever they hit a red light. As amusing as I would find this, I started dressing to get into the clubs and bars I liked and almost immediately I started getting a lot of compliments and attention. I would be lying if I said I didn’t like it.

I stopped wearing hoodies and vests all the time. The skirts, dresses and heels came out. Then all the lookers dropped their cloaking devices and I was dating a much more attractive category of man.

There has been a steady increase of female acquaintances cooing over my love interests over the last five years, and a general confusion as to how I’d managed to get them. Past relationships with good looking men have met with similar responses to the one below:

Looking at a picture of my boyfriend “ Where did you cut this out from?”

“Nowhere, he’s my boyfriend.”

“You’re going out with him!?!!”

30rock_fey_hamm1

Too hot to function

“ Err yeah.”

“Yeah right, he’s bloody gorgeous.”

“Wow thanks.”

“What I mean is, well, look at him. No offence. What I meant to say was well done! How did you net him?’

“Roofies. Lots of roofies.”

Yes, it was unbelievable that I’d managed to date a man found unanimously attractive. I mean I was attractive, but way too covered in food and obsessed with finger puppets for this level of dating.

Now these friends liked me. They enjoyed my company. Thought I was smart. Funny. Attractive. But for some reason they also seemed to believe there was an attractiveness threshold that needed to be met to date someone of this aesthetic calibre.

The man in the picture was undeniably handsome. As I would find out a few months later, he was also an undeniable cock, who had a problem with gay people, and the disabled.

But pretty, so no one seemed to take that part too seriously.

This was not something that horrified or surprised people. If anything I was frowned upon for mentioning it and tainting the poor guy’s pretty. If you’re good looking people naturally assume you’re amazing in all departments. Even if you’re not.

It’s the halo effect.

Comments that would normally sound self absorbed, stupid or superficial in the mouth of a regular human, must be witticisms, ironies and a black sense of humour. He didn’t mean to say ‘escape goats’ he was being funny. Err, no he wasn’t.

Some lookers will buy into their own hype, John Hamm style. Of course you can put Gatorade on salmon, it was culinary genius. Yes you should be a public speaker, because I would listen to you talk for hours. You are a far superior specimen of humanity who can do no wrong.

A friend of mine couldn’t believe his luck when he got a beautiful girl to date him for nearly four years. It was the most tumultuous, abusive and disrespectful relationship I had ever been witness to. She once threw his laptop out of a window because he had been rude to her. She got him kicked out of his apartment complex by bursting into tears, saying that he had mistreated her, after physically attacking him.

It culminated in him having to leave the country because she had destroyed his passport, stolen his credit cards and used her looks to ensure if he came near her to try and get them back, he would be the bad guy. Because, well look at him, and look at her.

Now this girl clearly had a problem. But wouldn’t it have been nice if people had listened to both sides of the story, and paid attention to the scratch marks on his face, rather than immediately assuming she was the victim in all of this because she was so fragile and beautiful?

It would have been even better if he had stopped putting her beauty on a pedestal and actually paid attention to how she was treating him.

Why would you make excuses for the poor behaviour of someone purely because they were physically attractive? Why was their seal of approval, relationship, friendship, or opinion so important?

It’s easy to be charmed by someone ‘incredibly good looking’. A scientific study in China showed, more men were likely to be conned out of money by an attractive woman than a less attractive one. We don’t trust the less attractive. People that are less attractive are actually more likely to be attributed negative qualities, and considered to be ‘inherently bad‘.

More circles open up to people that have the right look, in the same way doors are opened if you have money or social standing. It’s no wonder that with this kind of beauty bias, people struggle to take the perfect selfie or to present themselves as more attractive to gain the approbation of others and the perks that come with it.

Looking for this kind of validation would make anyone unhappy. Who wants to be judged on their appearances alone? What happens when they fade? What about all the other qualities you possess?

On a date with another stunner, I was told that I was like a 7 or 8 on a scale of hotness. A 10 personality, but you know… Naturally I was slightly offended. Also unimpressed by his shallowness. He could see this, so he quickly added I could be a 10. I just needed to get that beach body, wear a little make up and ‘take more pride’ in how I looked.

I ordered the cheese sticks and mentally noted there would be no second date. Not that he would have a problem getting another date with someone else, as long as he kept his mouth shut, and the cheese sticks flowing.

Surely if we all saw ourselves as amazing, none of this would even matter.

If we treated people based on what they were like as human beings, rather than favouring a certain look above another, maybe people wouldn’t be so obsessed about making themselves fit a generic mould of beauty.

I rarely get preferential treatment based on how I look. I don’t know how I’d feel if that’s how I lived my whole life and then that treatment faded, or disappeared because I was getting older, I was pregnant, or married and unavailable. Would I even be willing to give it up? It’s nice to be treated specially.

I’m reluctant to comb the Cheetos out of my hair to be treated on a par with someone who lucked out on the gene pool front. Personally, I think we should all hold out for the guy or girl who likes us Cheetos and all.

I’d probably be a 10 to that guy.

Hello world!

Back to the occasional rant, reflection and occasional creative piece that normally gets me stopped in public places by acquaintances keen to console me on the tragic state of affairs of my personal life, only to be told “It’s fiction.” No one ever believes me. Now that I have quit my job and am living off my tax rebate (Yay) it’s more frequent.

Welcome to my life: a festering mass of urban decay, inter spliced with the occasional uncomfortable romance, modern girl rant and hungover reflection. Enjoy, respond, sympathise or criticise.  Let’s go to hell in a hand basket together.