Life is fucking weird. I've been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of self-discovery, definitely not willingly nor intentionally, nd its a bit bleurgh.
I read this blogpost and she talked about the "figuring it out" stage of your life and fuck am I going through that except I'm not figuring anything out. Everything is just one massive "what am I doing? Is this right? Help! I don't wanna grow up!"and I think my brain is going to explode.
Figuring out. Figuring out what? How to exist as an independent human? How to not ring my mum crying or need to fill every breathing second of my day just so my mind doesnt combust? How to not skip lunch or eat only cereal or spend all my money or panic irrationally? How to claim back tax or how I set up a bank account???

(i live in a very beautiful place. one day ill take some pics to document it for when im away from home)

Anyway. One of these uncomfortable realisations was exposed in the car with my mum when, after I'd proposed a topic about trauma and its impacts, she announced:
"you are a very closed person" and I thought shit. I am.

I am terrified of exposing any vulnerability that could lead to pain. I am terrified of openness, of wearing my heart on my sleeve, of expressing how I feel, of letting someone get close.
I have this permanent shield of armour. It is impenetrable.
Maybe its a fear of trust, but my trust has never been betrayed.
But as soon as anyone has an opportunity to get close or show vulnerability my brain thinks "fuck" and shuts down.
For real.
Some part of my brain always tells me: their story is more important. You don't have a voice. You're words are worthless. So I don't say them.

Back in my Sherlock obsessed days (lol) I vividly memorised this quote:
"Alone is what I have. Alone protects me"
and I totally get that.
Its kind of like "okay. We exist as this sole unit. We can survive this because no one else can hurt us". Its weird man. Its also very shit. Because, apart from a very select few (we are talking 3 people, and even they only know bits), I never tell anyone anything. Which means it builds up and up and up in my brain nd then the emotional crisis of last week occurs. But its like I have all this stuff in my head where do I EVEN begin.  It also creates a sort of invisible boundary between me and those I love (esp. my friends) because they know so little? Not what's going on or how I am feeling or what I need which perpetuates the problem because it then can't be solved.

This has then made me think a lot about relationships and love and why I've never really experienced either. Because the idea of emotional intimacy = vulnerability = potential to be hurt. I feel safest alone because only I have to deal with it all but also obvs don't want to be alone because love???? I have a lot of emotional unpacking that needs to be done surrounding this topic. Why its something I crave but am also terrified of. Why I am repelled by commitment. Why the idea of 'settling down' makes me feel sick. I NEED TO TALK ABOUT these things to understand them but then I can't because of the above???? Sometimes thoughts are so much easier to understand when they're written down. But that topic requires too much vulnerability and we've established I'm not good at that.

wow. Who knew. This might come as a surprise because I relentlessly existentialise on here but ask me to say this in person and I'd burst into tears. Although, I don't cry in public. Because vulnerability. 

In other news, I have: passed my driving test (woo!), cried 5 days out of 7 (something I haven't done for months), felt weird that a whole year has passed since I left school, got very very worked up about a totally irrational event, felt totally humiliated by my drunken antics and wanted to die in a hole of embarrassment (oh fuck), spent an extortionate amount on a night out, worked a lot, felt very excited for my friends to be home, a bit sad that this year is drawing to a close (complicated emotions) and got very stressed about the 'could have beens'. AH well.
I now really, really need to go to sleep. I got in at 4 this morning then went to work for 10. Nice.
please PLEASE tell me any advice you have for challenging my closed-ness because its gonna make relationships actually quite fucking difficult nd I don't want that.
thanks for everything u guys.

(the sound track to this writing was Bach Cello suite. No.1– if u want a quiet few minutes to yourself just listen to it and it'll melt everything away)

sexism: the everyday, intersectionality and some questions

(dis is long)

This post began as a project to document the recognisable moments of casual sexism I came across in a week. As I began to think about the actions, their effect and my response, my brain started to hurt with conflicting questions and ideas about feminism. So, instead of slating (perhaps harmful, perhaps not) cases of daily sexism this is just some of the thoughts and questions I came up with.
I have had so many arguments about whether gender inequality still exists and have been accused, so many times, of ignoring the real problems in society. I did silence this one voice when I retorted that just the night before I had been groped by a stranger in a club as I was leaving. I suppose this isn't casual sexism, but its neither a surprise nor an irregular occurrence. Feminist remains an insult ("ugh, you're a feminist") and patriarchal values do remain engrained into our society.

In my original 'project', these were the cases of everyday sexism I came across (which initially angered me profusely)

1. Strength. Being told "not to lift heavy boxes", "tell" other male volunteers "what  I need", that I "can't carry that" and having my hands forcibly prised off heavy items and pushed away whilst being told "you shouldn't", despite managing with ease for the 8 months before they joined. Its embarrassing, especially when you try and confront it, and makes me eel inferior, incapable and weak (adjectives that can be synonymous with femininity)

2. Royal Wedding coverage. The BBC obsessing over the lime green silk of the Queen's dress or the suspense surrounding Meghan's or who each woman was wearing, with no similar reference to any of the men. As if they were worth no more than their appearance, despite immense achievement of both key women. Perhaps fundamentally harmless but also reinforces the importance of female appearance, places aesthetic on a pedestal above intelligence/character and differentiates between male and female and the values associated.

3. Royal Wedding 'giving away'. In fact, 'giving away' as a whole concept.
Perhaps an opportunity to break the mould??? But no. Also, in my opinion, 'giving away' kind of reinforces the engrained and archaic belief that women belong to their male relatives and that, through this ownership, the men of the household have to agree to and initiate their 'release'. Yes its tradition but its (imo) outdated and reinforces subordination.

4. Royal Wedding 'feminism'
I saw this tweet and it pissed me off
"I do sincerely hope the #RoyalWedding encourages girls to strive for more than dickheads who won't text them back, or who think it's okay to play games. You can have your prince, too, when you stop wasting your time on guys like that"
I do sincerely hope that we can teach girls that marrying a prince is not the pinnacle of their achievement, that they are so much more than their partners, that they can achieve without anyone by their side and that life is worth so much more. Its also heteronormative.

5. Clothing
The recent sun has ensued both swarms of men walking around topless, blissfully unaware and confident and comments about girls in shorts. "That's too much", "oh dear", "she shouldn't be wearing that".
These double standards reinforce objectification and sexualisation.

6. What's sexism?
I had this exact conversation in a pub last week. I was drunk and preaching about the inequalities inherent in our society (I'm so fun to be drunk with!) when I was faced with the question "eh, what's sexism?". Fuck. Okay, this isn't actually sexist but its very shocking.

From these examples, I concluded:
  • sexism remains prevalent in 2018, no matter how 'covert' and 'subtle
  • women remain objectified in mainstream media
  • we are still perceived as weak and innocent, despite proving otherwise
  • we are often considered entirely in terms of our sexuality 
  • symbolically we remain under the ownership of our male relatives
  • even those who seek empowerment still see our key role as marriage 
  • people (educated, millennial, liberal) still don't know what sexism is 
So I drafted those ideas and thought about the consequences and thought some more then re-wrote and then I was like "fuck". Do these, on a grand scale of global society, matter, when some women have nothing, when some women are experiencing sexism tied up with wider discrimination (for their race, ethnicity, ability, class etc.)? do I have much voice or reason to complain that someone won't let me carry a box? It feels like a sickening display of my privilege, because the above are the only problems I (thankfully) ever face. But,  these also still remain issues. Its problematic that women and girls are judged sexually on their clothing, its an issue that there is a subtext that we are only whole as a duo (and that that duo is most likely male+female), that we are still told we can't do things that we can, that we have to be ceremonially given away by our fathers to our husbands.
But maybe they aren't the most important issues (there's no maybe lol, they aren't).

There are societies far more divided, far more patriarchal, with far fewer legal regulations and protections. Where women are not granted even the most basic human rights.
Globally, in 2017 the average Gender Gap (which measures economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment) was at 68% and its going to take 217 years to close this gap. That is fundamentally wrong. But it also highlights that there are issues SO much worse than the ones I noticed. E.g. in Mauritiana it is not required that women and men are paid the same for comparable work and they do not have the same divorce and marriage rights. In June this year, Saudi Arabia only just lifts its ban on women driving. Globally, 19% of all girls are out of school and 15 million girls will never enter a classroom.

Shocking stuff, eh?

SO then I was like shit. The marginal disadvantages or underminings I've experienced/become aware of this week are nothing compared to the global (or even national) struggle.
I come from a position of (pretty much) ultimate privilege. I am white, (relatively) wealthy, educated, middle-class, cis-gendered, non-disabled etc. and therefore haven't really experienced shit.
I started reading about intersectionality (this article) that really made my think about my voice and the issues I complain about/advocate for. It said that the feminist argument is "overly white, middle-class, cis-gendered and able-bodied" and fails to recognise the multi-faceted issues experienced by other women (e.g. race, class, ability, ethnicity) and that they have a layered battle to fight. It also said the 'white feminism' movement (e.g. Women's Hour (*vom*)) "tokenises" others and "usurps" their voice. Which, upon reflection, I understand and can totally see in (some strands) of the movement. I suppose intersectionality is the recognition that the campaign for gender equality is so multi-layered and people experience difference battles for different reasons.

Idk. This post is just a ramble about my thoughts about feminism, sexism, the realisations I've had and some questions about the campaign and way forward.
I did find it interesting how many times I felt undermined or weak or objectified (subtly or not) because of my gender. It made me think about how people who face challenges because of other factors must feel, when its on a larger and far more destructive scale.

So idkkk. I don't want to perpetuate the non-intersectionality present in forms of western feminism by complaining about my (arguably minor–apart from having my vagina groped in a club, thats not minor) experiences but then also want to raise awareness that gender equality still remains a problem.

So tell me, all.
What do you think about advocating for 'smaller' issues when 'larger' ones exist?
Are they worthy of time?
Should we focus on the wider sexist and patriarchal issues instead of the causal experiences?
Does the 'western feminist' movement do good?
How can it be more intersectional?
Should we challenge causal sexism? How? What are your experiences of it, multi-faceted or not?
Are the above issues essentially harmless and just a benign aspect of our society? Am I complaining about nothing?
Do I need to look out for examples where genuine inequality exists? (yes)
Or, do I need to stop being so apologetic and be confident in my assertion that this still isn't good enough?
What solutions do you have for everyday sexism?
Are the above (especially the 'giving away') just benign traditions that are totally harmless or perhaps actually important?

Please tell me your opinions!!! All this has been very interesting but hurt my head a bit because there are so many factors and debates and ideas. All good and important though!

recent reads #3

Since my last book-related post I have read some ace books and some dire books. I shall share both. I do sometimes find it difficult to force myself to sit down and read and thus I am not progressing through this years book-bucket-list as quick as I would like. Last weekend, in the beating sun, I spent 3 solid days reading and it was bliss–note to self, do it more often.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof–Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams is a genius. After studying Streetcar for A-level (which I think is a piece of absolute artistry) I wanted to read more of his work. The way he presents broken characters and flawed society through the ambiguous motifs of his own biographical past is insane and its only once you begin to learn about him and his world-view that you truly appreciate his talent. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was just as morbid and depressing and showed the worst aspects of society. It covers themes of sexuality (something Williams' always explores really well), deception, masculinity, family and intertwines it with beautifully complicated and tragic characters. It is destructively cruel, in a way that makes you want to cry. Williams understands society so skilfully and something about his writing and characters makes my heart break. The version I have has 2 alternate endings which in some ways ruined the play because it made the characters lives seem less real, but it was also an interesting technique of Williams to encourage interpretation. I do think this is maybe more appreciated/understood if you've previously studied Williams' work/as a playwright but maybe not.
some quotes i like:
"we're all of us sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins"
"personal lyricism is the outcry of prisoner to prisoner from the cell in solitary where each is confined for the duration of his life" (as you can see, he's a really happy guy)

Call me by your name–Andre Aciman
I shall keep the review of this brief as it has been reviewed and discussed relentlessly. All for good reason, of course, but I'll just mention the bits I find especially significant. I undoubtedly adored it and couldn't stop thinking about it. I cried and wanted to talk about it endlessly. The sensuous language, cultural references and internal narrative created such an intimacy and the use of (a form of) continuous prose accentuates this closeness. A review on the back reads "as much a story of paradise found as it is of paradise lost" and I think this captures the novel perfectly. The inevitability of the ending fuels the pathos that runs throughout. It has immense parallels with The Go-Between (which I also re-read this month, check out a review here). They similarly explore destructive desire, naivety and illicit sexual awakening in the confines of a sultry and almost claustrophobic heat.
Fuck, I just looked over some highlighted bits in the last chapter ("You never did forgive me, did you?" "Forgive? There was nothing to forgive") and remembered how heartbreaking this novel was, especially the last scene which wasn't in the film.
some quotes i like:
"We had found the stars, you and I. And this is given only once"
"...crossed to the bank, where time stops and heaven reaches down to earth and gives us that ration of what is from birth divinely ours"

Larchfield–Polly Clark
This book was purchased on a whim and it was pretty shit in my mind. Utterly depressing and frustrating and repetitive and seemed to drag. It has a split narrative (one of W.H Auden set in 1930's (which I didn't realise and I have very little interest in him) and one of Ruth in present day) and I greatly preferred one over the other. The plot seemed to peak after a couple of chapters and the moment when the characters transcended the time barriers made me want to give up. I appreciate that a novel does not have to conform to reality but it just didnt work. Alas, it explored interesting themes of loneliness and sexuality and religion but just didn't do much for me. The ending was also sickeningly (and unrealistically) upbeat.

Humans–Matt Haig
I read Humans in a weekend under the uncharacteristically hot May sun. It was glorious. I read How to stop time (also Matt Haig) and they are definitely very similar. As the title suggests, this novel totally explores what it means to be human, with a clever use of narrative.  It presents family relationships and mental health and being different and acceptance and love, with a humorous undertone. It made me think a lot about the transitory and pointless nature of being alive and how meaningless humanity is, in many ways. I actually found this very reassuring, it helped to rationalise the angst. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing humanity through a different 'lens' and it made you think "fuck" about so many common aspects of society. The novel pares back humanity and being alive and beautifully presents the most essential components (essentially love). Haig, as always, writes with such wisdom and awareness and his literature feels like a kind of therapy. I usually hate both fantasy and forced humour in a novel but found neither overbearing and actually it added to the text in many ways. My only criticism was its similarity to How to stop time, but I suppose this just emphasises Haig's underlying message.
Some quotes i like:
"I realised the pathos of being human. Of being a mortal create who was essentially alone but needed the myth of togetherness with others" (how true?!)
"He eats around three bowls of cereal a day" (this is me.)
"The single biggest act of bravery or madness anyone can do is the act of change"
" in fact as universal as hydrogen"
"You can't find happiness looking for the meaning of life. Meaning is only the third most important thing. It comes after loving and being"
"Dark matter is needed to hold galaxies together. Your mind is a galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile"
"...the melancholy beauty of the setting sun"

I also read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine but its been reviewed and documented so widely, I figured my thoughts wouldn't add much. I found it an enjoyable read but a bit strange–the narrative had an ambiguous mix of light-heartedness and morbidity and I found aspects frustrating. I wouldn't rave about it but it was fun to read.

Now I am reading a Gentleman in Moscow which fuels my passion for Soviet History and is very ambiguous, I have no idea how its going to develop–which I love.
So yes. Lots of good literature has been consumed. I also binged the whole of Queer Eye which I adored and have been listening to Getting Curious on my runs which is entertaining. After a shit tonne of hassle with my camera (all self induced), I now need to tidy my room (oh lord) and have a disco nap before going out again tonight and working tomorrow. WOo for gap years, yeh!

summer vibez

This spring eve is so beautiful. My view is ethereal. One of the beauties of spring I enjoy most is this rectangle of dappled light that appears above my bed on late June evenings. It is so magical and warming. And this year I have the space and the time to enjoy such a fantasy.
If my head allows.
I am trying to make the most of Spring. Later, I may go and sit in the garden with a blanket and The Go-Between and let nature melt away my worries.
Below enjoy a compilation of summery pics to get you in the mood. They are from holidays been and gone and are totally fuelling my wanderlust.

I am living so much in the future at the moment. Counting down the months or wishing away the days. I hate it but it cannot be denied that I am dreaming of summer. I crave the feeling of the air after a blessed day of sun, soft, kissed and the trees whispering a silent "this is what it means to be alive". I am dreaming of nights spent in the park or the pub, with friends who have been gone too long. Re-kindling the closeness of times ago. I am musing about open windows and a cool breeze as I fall asleep, about suitcases and passports, about Pimms and bonfires and evenings on the beach and disposable pictures. I am hoping for the smell of sun cream and bronzed skin and new languages and different cultures and nights out in Hungarian clubs and Moroccan mint tea and books read on the beach and Parisian evenings and more hours spent looking out my window at the illuminated leaves and golden light.

a summer mood board

There are so many plans and many more that I want to carry out and places I want to go. Even though I have spent almost every conceivable wage, outside of buying drinks and entry to clubs, on travel of some form, I still have a burning wanderlust. Even now I have SkyScanner open and am trawling to find the cheapest flights to, well, anywhere. I am in need of adventure and spontaneity and even though I know this is coming and will come, I can't help but want more. I also remind myself that I have so many summers left to live and so much more time for adventures.

The past few days have been sheer bliss. Sun and nights out and meals out and good company and new piercings and coffee. And now I am enjoying the heat-induced euphoria of a bank holiday weekend spent reading and eating and relishing in the prospect of no work tomorrow. Yipee.