Tag Archives: A Voluptuous Mind

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.

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

When I was much younger and Christmas tree buying time came around in the Martin household, I was always very extra.

I would insist on choosing the ugliest, loneliest looking tree in the lot and we would inevitably end up with two – the pretty one that got to shine bright in the front room and my sad, usually balding tree positioned optimistically in the hallway so it would be the first thing anyone would see when they walked through the front door.

I’d bundle those underdog trees in as much love (and Star Wars figures) as my childish heart could conjure, and that was my own personal festive tradition. My family tolerated this probably because they didn’t have the energy to argue (and they loved me) – and I’m grateful to have had the chance to express myself from such a young age.

When I think about this ritual now, it could be a metaphor for a lot of my human relationships. I always made a bee line for the people I perceived needed something the most, whether it was true or not (invariably it was). I would come home with strays all through childhood (friends from less harmonious homes, actual stray cats and dogs) and as I matured, I did the same with men.

Damaged, needy men were my speciality and my inner rescue radar would pick them up with ease. This as you can imagine led to a lot of heartache on my part as I learned the hard way that you can’t fix people. Especially when they don’t want to be fixed.

I’m not entirely sure what made me think I had the qualifications to mend anyone anyway. All I know is that I’ve spent way too much of my lifetime attracted to broken people and one day – hallelujah! – I was able to stop.

It started when I left a six year relationship, which I now recognise to have been highly psychologically abusive. Then I cut out my first significant and totally toxic friendship. It was like losing a limb for a while and then, it felt INCREDIBLE.

For the first time I came to realise that we don’t have to put up with the things that hurt us. We have choices and ever since I discovered this, every time I get a whiff of another one of my strays, I catch myself.

I’m all for being there for others and I’m not saying all needy people are toxic, many of them are just like my trees. They need water, a comfortable pot and a shit load of tinsel – and they’ll start to thrive again. It’s just that I’m not responsible for anyone but myself and I have no business thinking I am.

I’ll always be attracted to the ugliest dogs in the street and Christmas trees that have seen better days but I don’t have to save anybody anymore.

I never did.

Writing 101: Day 7 – Hook ’em with a Quote

Writing 101 – Day 7 (Tuesday 15th September 2015) – Hook ’em with a quote

Today’s assignment is pretty cool. Big fan of the written quote. But what to use and why? That is the question. My first instinct was to use this one:

“Comparison is the death of joy.” ~ Mark Twain

I like this quote because it’s so true, and I drop it a lot, although I thought it was the ‘thief of joy’.

Compare yourself to almost anybody else and you’ll find yourself lacking. “Oh god, look how much she’s achieved!”, you might cry as you look down on your own life; 37 years of absolute nothingness, despite the fact that someone, somewhere is probably envying something of yours.

I compare myself to people I know and love all the time and it has to stop. We’re already conditioned as women to compare ourselves unfavourably to models and actresses and minor soap stars, or anyone for that matter. If we didn’t, perhaps we wouldn’t be so insecure and then what? The beauty industry (and the rest) might topple to the ground.

Imagine if we loved ourselves without question and didn’t feel the need to eyeball every female within spitting distance (God, I hate that!). Which leads me to my second quote, inspired by this amazing image:

BxPdurzCQAAr5NZ

“I really love me. I adore myself.” ~ Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama*

That quote is everything. We can all pack up and go home, Yayoi has shut down the internet. Fucking outstanding isn’t it?

“I adore myself” is the mantra we should all chant in the mirror as we bodge up our winged liner/decide against brushing our hair/squeeze spots.

“I adore myself” is the tiny tattoo we should all have inked discreetly, or not so, about our person. I couldn’t love it, or her, more.

Then I thought of my ultimate favourite quote and I thought, why not, eh? It’s relevant to my current state of mind, and to my every day. So here it is:

“Out of the ash I rise with my red hair and I eat men like air.” ~ Sylvia Plath

giphyYas Queen! This couldn’t be more relevant to me if it tried. I’m still cross about an incident at work with an aggressive (and stupid) male and this rage is coursing through me like poison.

It probably wouldn’t be if it hadn’t been swept under the carpet and he wasn’t acting like nothing’s happened. I’m good at moving on when I’ve been able to get it out of my system but this pussy hasn’t even got the balls to apologise.

The thing is, I’m not exactly what you’d call an alpha female. I’m beta and absolutely fine with that. I genuinely believe for every leading lady (or man), there’s an equally as important Director of Photography, Sparky or Screenwriter. Not everybody can be bolshy. That doesn’t make betas weaker or any less important. I have strong opinions, I just know when to voice them and when not to waste my time on battles that don’t matter.

Strength comes in many forms and sometimes it’s just about getting up again and again, and getting on with it, rather than shouting as loud as you can. Still, every so often I fantasise about being more of a warrior. If I were, that pathetic tool at work would currently be a smoking pile of ashes. But, professionalism, innit.

And I’ve just realised that I’ve given you 3 for the price of 1. You’re welcome.

Happy Tuesday, all!

*Kusama also said this, which is wonderful:

One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness. As I realized it was actually happening and not just in my imagination, I was frightened. I knew I had to run away lest I should be deprived of my life by the spell of the red flowers. I ran desperately up the stairs. The steps below me began to fall apart and I fell down the stairs straining my ankle.

Weekend (Film) Review

weekend_ver2_xxlgThis week was my choice and features a film my work friend, Darren has been banging on about for a long time.

I used The Big Gay Blog Collab of 2015 as my excuse to finally sit down and watch it. This Brit Flick has been highly praised and that’s all I’m going to say about that until the end. Do I agree that it’s fucking fabulous? You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?

As with all things, watch out for those *spoilers*, fam.

Weekend (2011)

Director: Andrew Haigh
Stars: Tom Cullen, Chris New, Jonathan Race

IMDB Synopsis: After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what’s expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.

My Review:

I’ll just get my first observation out of the way before I crack on. It’s a shallow one: Tom Cullen in an extremely attractive man. He’s popped up on my radar recently with The Trials of Jimmy Rose (TV Series – 2015), which I’ll probably not get round to, unless they pop it on Netflix.

He’s also Downton Abbey alumni so I understand, not that I’m into that either. But anyway, I like his face and I’m not against seeing it more. Much more.

Ungf
Ungf

Weekend begins with lots of long and lingering shots of Cullen’s face, which seems very sad. There’s a innate sorrow to the character of Russell, if that’s the right word. He’s pensive, distant – just plain melancholy somehow. He’s at dinner with a large group of mates and then he’s off early, alone in club, dancing in the spotlight with himself.

This scene is so poignant, so touching – he has his eye on someone and his hope is palpable. It’s a lonely place at the best of times, The Club. The idea of flying solo is a brave one to me.

Next morning Russell wakes up next to Glen, his first choice from the night before. Glen asks Russell to talk to him about his first impressions of him. He holds a Dictaphone in hand, part of an art project, he says. Russell is a little reserved but he plays along as they discuss how Russell had thought Glen out of his league. They talk about sex but it’s clear Russell isn’t comfortable. Glen suspects he’s not ‘out’, but he says he is.

weekdn3-e1427332416883-720x340
“Do you like my tight pants?”

They exchange numbers and meet up later that day, after Russell finishes work. It’s all very much getting to know you stuff. Glen explains more about his art project and they talk about art, travel. Russell opens up about why he hasn’t come out to his parents; he doesn’t have any but grew up in a series of foster homes.

This brings the boys closer together and they hook up again. As Glen’s leaving he drops the bombshell that he’s moving to Portland, Oregon the next day to go to art school. Then he invites Russell to his leaving do.

89032619_o
“Yes, it is very tiresome being this handsome…”

Russell attends and while Glen is holding court, he learns more about Glen from his flatmate, Jill. She’s not afraid to spill the beans and tells him all she can about Glen’s past relationship with a douche-pony called John. Later, our pretty pair splinter off from the group and Glen confides that he finds his friends a bit much, hence his decision to head to the US of A, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of (no, wait).

Back at the ranch (Russell’s charity shop chic abode), the lads ingest a seriously impressive quantity of class A’s and see the night out together. There are confessions, laughter, awkward pauses, anger – a cornucopia of emotion played out over eight hours.

0-2-17-small

Come morning what will become of our potential Romeos? Come with me to the Question Section! Will Glen leave? Can you fall in love with someone in two days? Why is Russell so frightened to be himself?

Why can’t I go to art school in Portland? And, is there a final rush to the airport (or train station) to stop our hero leaving without a proper goodbye?

(All future films should consider using this plot device as well as; at least one dance off and a makeover/training montage, either/or).

I’ll leave this here so you can find out for yourselves but it’s very touching. Truly.

Hello Goodbye
Hello Goodbye

My Thoughts: 

Huh. This is a touching film, it is. The leads are lovely and you’ll likely want them to be together until the end of time. But, it is also boring as sin in places. Sorry.

A handful of the phrases I jotted down during this viewing experience, bullet-pointed for your reading pleasure:

  • Naturalistic dialogue – So natural, especially paired with the sometimes intrusive camera shots, that you really feel part of the action. At times, whilst Cullen is soaping his balls in the tub for instance and during sex, you may feel uncomfortable with this closeness. Maybe. Let me look again to be sure…
  • Almost fly-on-the-wall filming – As above.
  • Nice wide shots – This film is stunning. Properly S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. The long shots, such as Russell leaning against the backdrop of the pool he lifeguards at, and sweeping shots of the estate his lives on, are very nice. All lending to the character’s feeling of isolation, of being just a tiny fish in a massive city-scaped pond, I guess (who knows? But that’s what I feel).
  • Empty streets by night – Lots of these. Probably for the same reason as above, innit.
  • Seventies shabby chic decor – Russell’s flat is a palace of kitsch. I want it for myself.

So, I appreciate it for being a heart-tweaking, romantic and good-looking film but it got a little bit meh in the middle. Maybe I should’ve chopped up a few lines to really experience it?

Cullen is a dark and brooding angel, Chris New was good and I can see why it was critically acclaimed.

However, it’s not the best film I’ve ever seen.

tumblr_lxhsdauVUp1qauwdso1_1280

My Rating: 3/5 – Beautiful, touching but a bit dull. Bring back Margaret & co.

What did Jill think? Find out here soon!

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (Film) Review

We were supposed to do romance this week but a friend was raving about this 2010 movie and I thought, well why the hellimatge_peli_0085.jpg not?

I did email Jillian ahead of time to see if she thought this would be a good option and her actual answer was: “IS SHE RIDING A PTERODACTYL ON THE NETFLIX POSTER??? UM, HELL YES.”

Thus bolstering my love for her and all that she stands for. So, let’s do this.

As always, *Welcome to Spoilertown*

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric, Gilles Lellouche

IMDB Synopsis: An adventure set in the early part of the 20th century and focused on a popular novelist and her dealings with would-be suitors, the cops, monsters, and other distractions.

My Review:

I don’t really know how this got past me being that it’s directed by Luc Besson, and is based on a comic book, but get past me it did.

Sometimes, that’s a great thing though, isn’t it, discovering a gem that’s a few years old and being able to enjoy it without anyone else’s opinion seeping into your experience? And, it turns out, this was the perfect film for a laid back bank holiday Monday in my pants.

We begin with a wonderful introduction to Professor Espérandieu via the introduction of some of the other minor, and not so minor characters. It’s very French and whimsical.

In a nutshell, bonkers old Espérandieu has been experimenting with telepathy and hatches a 136 million year old Pterosaur egg from the local museum (approx. the same age as some of the eggs in our fridge, to be fair). So the pesky Pterodactyl is terrorising gay Paree with abandon, accidentally killing important members of government and their favourite showgirls (well, one set).

While this occurs, the titular Adèle is in Egypt, though her publisher thinks she’s climbing Machu Picchu. What she’s doing amongst the pyramids and why soon becomes apparent but first she must deal with being double crossed in the tombs by sexist tour guides and an ugly old nemesis, who are only there for buried treasure.

Adele

Adèle is a wiley fox, however, and gets out of the tomb using only her wits. Her mission is a successful one, as she manages to escape with the mummified corpse of the Pharaoh’s personal physician, Patmosis; exactly who she came for. It’s all very Indiana Jones, which can only ever be a very good thing.

Back in Paris, the President is panicking about the loose Pterodactyl and enlists the help of Inspector Caponi and a big game hunter called Saint-Hubert. Oh and I haven’t yet mentioned sweet, romantic Andrej Zborowski who is madly in love with Adèle and has written her a love letter every day since he met her. Sadly for him, Adele is a woman who has other things on her mind beyond men, like resurrecting mummies and saving the life of her all-but-brain-dead sister, Agathe.

abs-885

That’s right, see everything Adèle does is for her sister, who was involved in a freak accident that she feels responsible for. So, with the help of Professor Espérandieu, she intends to resurrect Patmosis, who as the #1 doctor to Ramesses II, will no doubt be able to save Agathe. Will it work though?

By now there’s the added obstacle of Espérandieu being imprisoned and sentenced to death for his part in the whole dinosaur debacle, so Adèle must be creative in her rescue attempts. Which she is, luckily. Though sometimes, a girl’s just got to admit defeat and get on the damn Pterodactyl to get shit done, you know?

Adele_blanc-sec_final_poster

Now friendly with besotted Andrej, who has built a temporary nest for our winged wonder, Adèle gains control of ‘the bird’ and brings Espérandieu home. Sadly, this is short lived as Saint-Hubert strikes down the bird, who is connected psychically to the old man. Will he make it back to Patmosis in time to bring him forth to Adèle (and Agathe’s) aid?

Well, you want to bloody hope so!

original-472921-416

I don’t want to give everything away because I absolutely recommend this film but there really is some magic ahead as the above question is answered.

Wait, until you meet the mummies though, including delightful old Ramesses himself. Along with the lols, will they bring Agathe back to life?

Will Adèle get her beloved sister back and finally be able to shake the guilt she has carried for five long years? Will she ever wear a big hat I don’t adore? Will Andrej get the girl? And finally, where can I get my own mummy?

adele49

Have fun finding out, my pretties. It’s a wonderful ride.

My Thoughts:

As my mother would say, “What fun!”. It really is and it’s also refreshing to watch a film in which romance isn’t the main objective for the central character, especially a female. Adèle is determined to save her sister and that is the only thing she cares about.

She is beautiful, of course, but she isn’t a fluffy character. She’s not always nice or polite, she can be bad tempered and I like her for that. I like her for being almost a normal person in extraordinary circumstances.

The film itself is fantastical, funny and entertaining. Most of the characters have a significant story arc and that’s nice to see. It’s a magical piece of cinema with a great cast. Bravo, Monsieur Besson.

My Rating: 

4/5

What did Jillian think? You can totes find out here.

Stories*

Margaret_atwood_quote_1

Today’s task: create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a conference. Via Blogging 201: Make the Most of Events (27th October 2014)

I have thought long and hard about the things I like to write about and how I can best turn them into a regular blog feature. What keeps coming up are relationships and the stories that have stemmed from them.

Since this is an organic process, it may evolve into something completely different, but I’ll kick off today with a tale from my dating past. I intend to see if I can get guest bloggers in to share their experiences and their own adventures. I would also like this to become a regular thing, I’ll be aiming for once a fortnight.

So which of the stories from my car crash past shall I start with?

I was 20 when I left home for the first time.

I stayed on a little extra at college to finish a secretarial course and an A Level in Film then decided the last thing I wanted was to continue my education in the classroom. Hardly the academic, I was done with awkward social encounters and eating my lunch in the back café where only the weirdos went. So I allowed myself to be talked into going travelling instead, with a friend I never really liked.

She was the kind of person who would say things like “Aw bless you, you do try” and make you feel like shit. But back then I just felt lucky to have someone willing to do something exotic with me so overlooked most of her heinous personality defects. Anyway, we saved for what felt like years for our trip to Australia and then suddenly we were on our way, 24 hours on a plane and a million light years from home (actually 10,552).

It didn’t take us long to settle in. Full of adventure, we spend good cash on a vintage Toyota Corolla to nip around in. Puke green and years past its sell-by date it ran like a dream. We were free to pursue any avenue we pleased and what pleased us then were boys.

I was on the path to vascular destruction and I didn’t even know it yet. It happened one night, in a pub in the sticks. A cross between the Mos Eisley Cantina and The Slaughtered Lamb, this wasn’t a pub for two bumbling teenagers but still it was where we found ourselves.

Sharon, my obnoxious travelling companion was designated driver and had already zoomed in on some company for the night but I was a shy girl. Spurning the advances of an enthusiastic and burly youth who promised to show me the back of his Ute, I was about to give up until I saw Him. Mine.

All I really remember about that first night was the rain. We’d arrived slap bang in the middle of Monsoon season and NSW was awash.

I had never seen anyone so beautiful. He told me I looked like Ginger Spice (it was the late 90’s) and when we retreated to the Corolla in the car park and he asked if he could kiss me, I let him.

What followed was the most confusing, heart wrenching, shameful, awakening year of my life.

It’s hard to describe how easily I went from being a barely kissed (but not longer virginal) teenager to a woman obsessed with a pretty but not very nice boy. After the romance of our first meeting, I fell hard and I guess my English accent made me just intriguing enough to keep around.

It didn’t encourage him to keep his dick in his pants though and many a night ended in (my) tears because he’d stayed out with someone else. One night he brought home another woman while I was there. In his bed.

This was my first experience of love and frankly, it wasn’t great. But I finally felt alive and thrived on the pain. This Small Town Girl was crazy in love and what did it matter if it felt bad 85% of the time? This was real.

Luckily, I have grown out of the notion that love and pain go hand in hand. For decades I believed that you had to work relentlessly to make all relationships work. I was wrong.

I sometimes count The Australian as my first love but of course I didn’t really find out what that was until much later on. This was my first experience of heartbreak though. If only I had a pound (or Australian dollar) for every tear I shed that year.

I found him on Facebook not long ago and the optimist in me hoped for a paunch, a bald head or no teeth; some light retribution for all the wrongdoing.

Sadly, I can confirm that time has been kind and he’s still flawless.

So that’s the tale of my first heartbreak. I have more stories, and love each and every one. They lead me here afterall.

What do you think of this feature? Could it work do you think? And would you like to contribute?

If you would like to tell us a tale, on anything from relationships to travels, email me: avoluptuousmind@gmail.com.

* A regular blog feature in which I tell stories, sometimes about relationships.