Category Archives: The Middle Row

Truly Oddly Deeply

*Drag Race spoilers*

While Drag Race doesn’t always pack the punch it used to (IMHO), I am always fully on board. I mean, it’s still extremely addictive television and more fun than most things, even at its least inspiring (and sometimes problematic).

Season 11 hasn’t been too bad so far and has a couple of standouts for me, including larger-than-life Silky and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo (Vaaaaaaanjie!).

I’m quite relieved Ra’Jah O’Hara has gone now (even though she was interesting to watch) but I’m disappointed we didn’t get more from Scarlet Envy (booted out in Episode 6). But honestly, this season is allllll about one queen for me and that is the wonderfully strange, gorgeous and controversial gob-shite… Yvie Oddly.

I always love the arty oddballs and Yvie is no exception. Here are just a few reasons she’s set to become one of my all time faves:

Drama Llama

Yvie so far has been involved in the most drama due to her inability to sugarcoat the tee. Most likely to call it like it is, she maintains she was brought up by parents who were brutally honest with her and has grown up with the same quality.

“You think being safe every week is going to get you somewhere?” ~ to Silky

While she is what she is, she has more than once claimed to be working on her delivery and it’s when she shows these flashes of vulnerability that I fall for her more and more.

Doing s*it you could not dream of

My queen lives with a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3 which affects the tissue in her skin and bones. She has hyper flexibility as a result (which she uses to its full potential on the stage) but joints can pop out-of-place and cause a lot of serious pain. This has come up in the competition when Yvie has hurt herself during some of the tasks.

“I’ll dance circles around your ass.” ~ to Silky

But do you think this has kept her down? Yvie uses her body in an incredibly effective way and her long limbs throw shapes nobody else can. She’s a trouper who takes umbrage to being told she should leave because she’s hurt or that she can’t do what the others can. And that my friends, is badass as Hell.

A for Authentic

Yvie is also authentic AF (a word thrown around the work room A LOT) and true to who she is – working her uniqueness into even the most broad of categories – e.g. Sequins on the Runway. She’s shown time and again that she can turn it up AND keep her freak flag flapping – and I love her for it.

“I am Denver’s commodity of drag oddity.”

Genuinely, I just want to see what she’s going to wear every week and when she’s on the stage, I don’t care about anyone else. She has been mostly consistent in the quality she brings to the tasks and the runway, with the exception of The Snatch Game (eek!) – and I am backing her all the way.

So there it is – Yvie Oddly is my favourite from this season and puts me in mind in some ways of a young Acid Betty.

She might not have the polish of my ultimate queen Kim Chi but she does have the sense of humour to join her in Christa’s DR Hall of Fame (along with AB and Detox) – so even if she doesn’t win, Yvie will always have that.

Who’s your favourite?

Juices

Every so often (very often) I become a master procrastinator. I may have a list of 78 things that simply must be done RIGHT NOW but there I am gazing at my navel and wondering who would play me in the cinematic biopic of my life (Philip Seymour Hoffman is no longer with us so I guess… Bette Midler?).

I’m in a creative rut just now and it does not feel good. I am all for being engaged with something that gets those creative juices flowing – whatever it is. For me it’s writing, watching movies (and talking about them) – and reading.

I’m reading a very heavy book at the moment about the Charlie Manson murders and while it is fascinating, it’s also very courtroom-heavy. Who knew when it was written by chief-prosecutor for the trial, Vincent Bugliosi? It’s great and right up my street as a true crime obsessive – however it’s getting me down too. All that murder and mind-control will do that to you.

As a result I have recognised areas in which I can make small changes to pep myself up again and get that creativity back in my life. Which I’ll share now because I need to beef this post up somehow.

Here are a few of my favourite things to do to try and ditch the blues:

Walk This Way

I haven’t actually started this yet because I’ve had a lot of late nights this week and no way am I walking home alone at night in this cold – but now that it’s lighter in the evenings and relatively bright, there’s no excuse not to get stomping from A to B. Or is it Z? I guess it depends how much you have to do.

Exercise is always name-dropped in relation to well-being and the proof is in the pudding. Nothing feels better than getting those lungs pumping and that fresh air in through your nostrils. You don’t have to be bench pressing 120 kgs to be getting the benefits. To accomplish this (which admittedly after a hard days work I’m not always up for), I add another well-being favourite to the mix.

Podcasts

Yes I like a lot of dark stuff, namely horror movies and true crime – but there are other podcasts I listen to sometimes about relationships, books, body image, mental health… to be honest by now there must be a podcast for every topic imaginable (something I must research one of these days).

Slapping on a new episode and leaving the flat on a dry day has wonderful benefits, both physical and mental – plus you get to learn interesting and obscure information you never even knew you needed to know. It’s like college on the move.

Graffiti

This is something that really makes me appreciate life. When I walk around Brighton I’m naturally drawn into the secret corners of the city. If I’m going anywhere by foot you can bet I got there via a maze of unloved alleyways and side streets.

Brighton has amazing street art and graffiti, you just have to keep your eyes open for it. I wish I had even a quarter of the talent these artists have. There’s quite a famous saying that goes something like “Those who can’t, take pictures of it and share it on Instagram.”

Just Say No

This is probably the hardest item of the well-being list to keep to because even though I’m a hermit-at-heart, I also suffer from FOMO. But saying no is important sometimes.

Honestly, I’ve only learnt how to do this quite recently in the grand scheme of my life – and it’s empowering AF. “Do you want to come to a BBQ this week with all my work friends?” ~ No thank you very much! See? So satisfying.

I Think We’re Alone Now

This is so fricking important, I can’t emphasise it enough. If I don’t get sufficient time alone during the week, I turn into Godzilla, fiery breath and all. I just can’t be around people all day every day and yes this can be a challenge when you live with someone. Luckily, my husband understands (and doesn’t want to be around me just as much) so we make it work.

I also take myself on dates from time to time, mostly to the cinema but anywhere I feel like going. It’s the best – and I get to eat all the sweets without judgement.

Nailing It

Self-care in the form of pampering is probably the most recognised form of well-being – and there’s a reason for that. It’s good to take some time out and make yourself feel good – be it a posh bubble bath (with lashings of Mister Matey) or a full body tissue massage – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

My Thing is getting my nails done so I feel extra fancy. Luckily my place honours the above point and completely ignores me beyond asking me what shape and colour I want. I LOVE IT. No chit chat – and I’m in and out with new claws within 45 minutes. I love looking at my horrible fingers with coffin shaped talons stuck to the ends- I feel like I’ve really earned them.

Kiss

Not actual snogging (which is fine) but the song Kiss by Prince. There’s a law about not wiggling your butt when this song comes on and it carries a heavy sentence, so it’s best just not to risk it.

See also: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot, Hey Ya by Outkast.

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

(This is a post I wrote for my work blog but I thought I’d share it here too).

Amazing April

I’m in a bit of a slump at the moment with the blog. I mean, I have been blogging regularly but it’s been mainly film reviews (which obviously I LOVE) but this isn’t exclusively a film blog and I want more of *me* to shine through.

I’m just having a problem with content, like what do I want to talk about? I’m sure if I put my mind to it I won’t be able to shut up so I’ve decided to make April my bitch. I will post something of note on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week in the month and anytime around that if I fancy it.

Putting down my intentions here makes me feel like I’ll actually do it. In the meantime, I just finished a fascinating course for work which I’m definitely going to tell you about because it was life changing. Honestly.

How are you?

5 Years of A Voluptuous Mind + 2019 Foreword

According to my WordPress stats, today is my five year anniversary. Looking back I see that five years ago almost to the day A Voluptuous Mind was born.

A LOT has changed since I wrote that foreword, including the name of my blog and a lot of my likes and dislikes. I can’t remember being so into Matthew McConaughey to be honest, and of course there’s a massive shadow now cast over the actor who played Chuck Bass (allegedly). More importantly, Mariah Carey has grown on me like a glittery fungus and I’m not mad at her anymore.

As a person I’ve changed too and I hope for the better. I’m no longer so hung up on the idea of being anything other than me. I’m not fixated with losing weight and I’ve never been happier. The ideal of perfection is an illusion and it’s unobtainable, with ever moving goal posts – I’m glad I’ve realised that focussing on my mental health and well-being is more important that counting calories and the way I look.

I thought I’d celebrate this very special occasion by writing a new foreword, a brand new 2019 version. I’ll review it again in 2024.

Welcome to The Middle Row, formerly A Voluptuous Mind. This blog is no longer a ‘work in progress’, though sometimes it still feels that way. Even after five years I don’t think I’ve really landed on what I want it to be. And that’s okay.

I live in Brighton and work in Customer Services for a financial company. I love my job but I get bored easily. Luckily I have plenty of other things to keep me sane. I write a movie column for the call centre magazine and also have a work blog that gets nice comments. I’m also a rep for our in-house support team and am a point of contact if a colleague needs help with a work or non-work related issue. That’s one of my favourite parts of working for the company.

Outside work I have this blog and I also podcast. At the moment I’m planning a new horror themed podcast with two good friends. We’re all really excited about it and I will be sharing some of our new content here. But of course.

I live with anxiety and depression, something I finally faced up to a few years ago. I now understand myself so much better and know when to give myself space. I’m still obsessed with film, especially horror movies and I think my anxiety feeds into this. There’s something of a release found in the films I most enjoy.

I love to read, particularly Gothic horror, ghost stories and crime fiction. I love to be tattooed and I’m a shopaholic.

Thank you for reading A Middle Row, honestly – to every person who takes the time to visit and comment, I appreciate you.

It would be remiss not to mention the wonderful people I have met here on the blog. I have had friends from all around the world ever since I started blogging almost 20 years ago and they illuminate my social media feeds every day with their experiences and opinions.

And of course, the friendship I have with my blog wife Jill is one of the most important to me. We’ve been reviewing films for years now (more on that soon) and even though I can be highly disorganised and sloppy sometimes with the assignments, it means the world to me. So to Jill I say: thanks for the memories boo – looking forward to way more.

Thank you for reading for the last five years and here’s to fifty more.

Plant Life

I’ve been thinking of going vegetarian for a while now. I love a good burger obviously or a nice hearty stew but I can’t deny that I’ve started to feel guilty about meat consumption and it feels like a habit most of the time. I’ve always been a meat and two veg kind of girl and I’d like to change that.

In my head I thought I’d just quit meat right now and that would be that but if I’m going to do this, I want to do it properly. So I’ve been looking online at the easiest ways to do it. The general consensus seems to be to start making changes slowly which isn’t as dramatic as I’d imagined but it is sensible. And I’m nothing if not sensible.

On my hunt I found this little checklist by Zen Habits and thought I would use it at the heart of this post. I don’t know anything about vitamin supplements or meat substitutes really but I’ll see what I can find on the old web and through speaking to vege friends.

Have good reasons…

I do feel guilty about animal cruelty and the damage we are doing to the planet by trying to sustain fields of livestock just for food. According to Peta, meat-eating is listed as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth. A fact I’ve ignored on purpose for many years.

Read up…

I don’t know of any specific resources but I’m sure they’re easy to find online. Any recommendations are welcome, obviously!

Find good recipes…

This will probably be the most challenging part, given my aversion to cooking. However, Quorn and meat substitutes seems to be so good these days I’m looking forward to a little experimentation.

Try one recipe a week…

See above. I’m really craving a massive meat-free spag bol – look I told you, I’m not a fancy person, okay?

Substitutions…

I only know about Quorn and Linda McCartney but I’m sure there are bajillions of options out there now. I know M&S have an impressive plant based selection, so I’ll keep an eye out.

Start with red meat…

This should be the easiest bit to be honest. Goodbye bacon and burgers.

Then the other meats…

I think fish might be the hardest for me but it’s going to happen, I swear.

Consider dairy & eggs…

Hm. We’ll see how far we get. Baby steps and all that… Jazzzzzz.

~

Joking aside though, I think it’s better to do something small to start than do nothing at all – and fortunately, Glynn’s been thinking along the same lines. So we’re doing it together.

We might not become vegan straight away or even at all but we can start here and see where it leads us, right? I mean the intention is there, surely that counts for most of it.

Are you vegetarian? Was it a hard change to make?

Smear Campaign

TW: Vaginas and speculums, oh my!

I’ve seen a couple of people I follow on social media talking about this and I wanted to get involved. So today, friends, we’re talking about smear tests.

As you’re aware I said goodbye to my thirties a while back. I’m now 41 and therefore so together in life that you can be sure I’m completely on top of my cervical smear appointments. NOT. The last test I had, according to my lovely nurse from this morning, was in 2010. This is totally unacceptable and I know that. But life gets in the way so I can’t beat myself up about it too much.

I have been getting lectured heavily by my husband recently though and he was part of the reason I finally booked the appointment. Along with a lot of press about how the number of women attending them has diminished over the years. I know this isn’t good but I’ve done it now and it was so unobtrusive that I thought it was worth sharing my experience. Reading other women’s stories helped me to be less nervous about everything so why not, eh?

My appointment by the way took just ten minutes. That’s ten minutes of my day to get a potentially life-saving procedure. My nurse, Natalie, was reassuring and professional – and although I say I wasn’t thay nervous, that’s a bit of a lie. The first thing I told her as I entered her room was how scared I was feeling. She asked me what I was most worried about – my responses: having to get my bits out, the pain, the results – weren’t very helpful. But she still addressed each one of them.

“I’ve seen it all before.”
“It can be uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt. Tell me straight away if it does.”
“Whatever happens, we will deal with it.”

And then I was lying bottomless on the bed with my feet together and my legs angled like a frog’s. Not the most glamourous of positions and no stirrups in sight but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It’s a little bit odd when the spectulum slips in (after it’s been generously lubed up, thank you very much) but not painful. We talked about veganism, work and Jade Goody while she rummaged around.

In the end, I has to have an extra long speculum which made me laugh (and then wonder if I should be worried) but according to Natalie – and many of the articles I have read recently – “One size does not fit all”.

Did I mention I was in and out within ten minutes, with no pain, not much discomfort and a huge sense of pride? Like, I’ve ticked something off my “Sensible Woman” list for another three years. The results will be posted to me in 4-6 weeks and hopefully, that will be that.

So if, like me you’re several tests behind and putting things off, don’t. You’ll be okay.

Get those flaps out for your friendly neighbourhood nurse.

Enjoy the Silence

I’m a big fan of the PMA meme. I choose to believe that a fair bit of being able to get through life is to maintain a positive attitude (where possible, obvs). I don’t really like to thrive on negativity or be around bad energy – the odd bitch about a colleague is one thing but I don’t enjoy being dragged into drama, my own or someone else’s.

What I’m trying to say is that here on the blog I might have a gentle moan but most of how I’m feeling is filed away in the “being handled” cabinet, and that is that. But that’s not always realistic and sometimes I just get very, very tired with everything. Not in a sinister way, there’s nothing to worry about, it’s more about getting fed up with slapping a happy face on and going about my day all the time.

Of course most of us are doing that – it’s life – we’re fighting the good fight but sometimes all the relentless positivity, all the Go girl/You got this memes, the very memes I subscribe so heavily to, start to annoy me. What if I don’t got this? What if I can’t pick myself up and dust myself off? Obviously I can and I will eventually but what if the effort of this is too much because sometimes it is. Sometimes I feel so numb I don’t feel anything. Of course there’s always love for my husband, family and friends – it’s not that, it’s something else this numbness. It’s a bone tiredness that sucks the joy of life and the excitement out of the future.

On the other hand sometimes, when I let my meds slip (which isn’t often), I might go the other way. My brain literally buzzes and it feels as though all the nerve endings inside this head of mine are live wires. I feel overwhelmed and out of control. That’s the worst feeling in the world and almost worse than the depression.

I don’t reveal all this because I’m special or that I want to be treated differently, I share it because it’s true and a part now of who I am. We’re told all the time it’s important to talk about these things and it is, we shouldn’t be scared by fact and by the so-called negative things that make us human. I wouldn’t change this about myself, I believe honestly that it makes me a better person somehow, that my anxiety and depression attunes me to others and I can spot a person struggling and act accordingly. I will never shy away again from being sensitive, even over-sensitive – this is me.

I just think it’s important to acknowledge that the fight is tiring and that sometimes I want to give up. Genuinely, I think often of getting on a bus and disappearing, starting a new gentler life somewhere alone. My reclusive nature goes into overdrive and it seems so appealing. Imagine not having to speak to anyone for as long as I wanted! Sounds like bliss. In reality it would be lonely and isolating and it would make me feel so much worse.

I’m not going to do that. I have everything I could ever possibly need right here but sometimes, just sometimes I need to allow myself to feel these things. Then I’ll pick myself up and get on with it.

How are you?