Kindness

It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind ~ I Know It’s Over, The Smiths

It was World Kindness Day a few days ago – I know this because my colouring app told me and gave me a couple of bonus pictures to celebrate. Which was very nice but it also got me thinking about true kindness. Is it possible to be kind all the time? Is there a certain level of kindness you have to hit before you qualify as a proper kind person? And what about kindness to yourself?

You see? It’s a lot to think about and I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. It’s just sometimes I find myself wondering, when I’m promoting kindness to others (via the medium of meme) – and walking around with the lyrics from the song quoted above tattooed on my arm – whether I even qualify.

I think generally, most of us are decent at the core but all of us could stand to be kinder. Even if all that means is keeping an eye out for the dude you sit next to at work, or asking a crying stranger if they need anything.

I wonder all the time whether I’m a decent person, sometimes I truly believe I’m not. Kindness is something I aim for every day but there are always obstacles that derail my intention. Like someone being a know-it-all brings out my decidedly unkind side.

I recently made a new friend who it turns out might not be my cup of tea after all – and I know my pulling away has been confusing and possibly hurtful for them. I haven’t been horrible but I feel really guilty about the situation, like maybe I need to make more effort – except I’m not sure I have it in me mentally to just ignore my instincts.

What I don’t understand is how easily we’ll think about others and ignore our own needs. Being kind to ourselves counts. And all this is just a delicate balancing act.

I say be kind wherever possible and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage it 24/7, you’re not a Stepford Wife. As long as you’re not going out of your way to be a mean bitch and you’re not hurting anybody, you’re doing okay. As with most things, intent is key. We can all strive to be good people and for the most part, I think we are.

Keep an eye out for those around you, do a good deed every now and again just for the hell of it – it is honestly way more satisfying to put good out into the world than bad.

So happy belated World Kindness Day.

How’s it going?

Wholesome Content: Halloween Edition

On Sunday a small group of us gathered for Matt’s birthday at his place to hang out and carve pumpkins. As I’ve mentioned before, the last time I did this exact activity (as a group and not at work as part of a competition) was when I lived in Vancouver.

We put on music and got to work, all coming up with something pretty impressive considering. I chose two tried and tested designs, AKA different Jack Skellington faces while the others did Mike Wazowki (of Monsters Inc.), a scene from Lord of the Rings, some more traditional skull designs and one with marijuana eyes. It’s funny how satisfying it is creating something from nothing but an oversized vegetable – particularly on my favourite holiday – and particularly around people I like so much.

Halloween hasn’t even arrived yet but I’m already excited for the next one. It has been rather a wholesome one this year. The Halloween party was a sober one for me, which meant no hangover but lots of people approaching me to make sure I was okay. It’s still baffling how awkward people are around non-drinkers at social events. I was just happy to people watch for a bit and grab a Burger King on the way home.

Tonight I caught trashy horror Countdown as one of my #31horrors (review no doubt coming soon) and we’re planning a very low-key home-with-the-family Halloween evening on the 31st. I plan to be in my pyjamas with a pile of snacks by 6.30pm.

What are you up to? 🎃

Amazing Grace

I don’t do enough freestyle posts and I think it’s a shame. When I first started blogging it was very personal, almost like a diary of what I was doing on the daily. At least once a week I thought it would be nice not to overthink things and just go with what I’ve been up to.

Lucky for us I actually went out at the weekend for a change and have something of note to report! I also hung out with the one and only Grace Jones. Well, if you don’t count the hundreds of other people between us. More on that later.

This weekend was Brighton’s own version of Christmas: Pride. The build-up to this weekend has always been immense. All the shops, bars and restaurants put on their rainbow clothes and the whole city is swathed in colour. It never looks better than it does right now.

This year the festival welcomed Kylie (the original and best Kylie OBVIOUSLY) and the crowd went wild. The parade too was a raging success – and I avoided them both completely. I just couldn’t bring myself to take on the crowds this year but I did have quite bad FOMO. Pride has been such massive part of my personal history and memories. This was cured by Sunday and the LoveBN1 Festival, to which I won tickets at work (for this piece).

Honestly, I was in two minds about handing the pair of tickets over to someone less hermit-like but I knew my friends Matt and Helen were going so I tagged along with them. I was promised a much more chilled day that the carnage of Saturday – and that’s exactly what I got. The headliner was Jessie J, an artist I’m not that into (Helen loves her) – but who turns down the opportunity to witness the OG Grace Jones in such a setting? Not this guy!

Along with the House Gospel Choir (who were wonderful), Grace was the highlight of the day and maybe even my year so far (along with Neneh at the Roundhouse). Honestly, I thought I knew what to expect but I really had no idea – she must hail from another planet. She’s absolutely stunning and I loved her set. Admittedly, I wasn’t that familiar with her back catalogue but it’s right up my street, very reggae inspired. She was also a total wit, demanding wine from an assistant, changing outfits on stage while chatting to the crowd – and being scandalous in front of the children (she said, if any of the kids ask if she’s a man or a woman to “tell them I’m a woman, wearing a man” and came out wearing a strap-on).

She hula hooped for the last number which I believe was Pull Up to the Bumper. Basically, she is the ultimate queen and I’m forever obsessed.

Pull up to my bumper baby
In your long black limousine
Pull up to my bumper baby
And drive it in between ~ Grace Jones – Pull Up to the Bumper

Anyway, we had a great time. It was so chilled out, just the three of us. The drinks flowed and it didn’t rain too much – all was full of love. I feel so lucky to have both of them in my life – they inspire me to be freer and do more interesting things but I can also totally be myself with them both. You don’t get that every day.

Now it’s Monday afternoon and I’m still feeling slightly delicate from yesterday. My body aches from the walking and the dancing, I’m sooo tired – but I feel good.

I feel great actually – just like Grace.

How was your weekend?

Horror Friends

It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, silence and solitude. ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Ever since I read this article, I’ve been thinking about adult friendships. I’m lucky to have a selection of people I can make plans with when I want to (and who understand when I don’t) – but I realise it isn’t always easy to make new friends or meet people who are into the same things as us.

Ages ago my friend Matt ventured the idea of signing up to the Meetup app and setting up our own horror club because he’d noticed there was a gap in the market in Brighton. We never got around to it because procrastination and Christmas won out but now I’m thinking we should try it again. Why can’t we combine our love of horror with meeting new people?

So I’m going to start looking into the feasibility of doing it. It will be like a book club but with horror movies. I’m thinking we’ll set homework two weeks before each monthly meet and then discuss it in a group in the pub. There are no hard plans. As you might be painfully aware, I’m not a details orientated person unless it comes to writing. I’m happy for it to start light and loose, and evolve into something more solid depending on the response.

I think it sounds cool though. What I am conscious of is that I’m a big follower of several meetup groups on Facebook and so far I’ve been too anxious to attend any of them on my own. So I should probably start being braver about doing those too. I don’t want to be a nervous host at my own meetup!

If you’re part of something similar, a book club, etc – what do you like/dislike about it? What would you like to see? If you’re in Brighton, would you join my club?

Best Friends Day

I’m thinking of holding an audition for a new best friend.

I used to have one. The same one for fifteen years but the relationship grew toxic in the end and it had to stop. Even though my life has been infinitely calmer and better in the time since, I can’t pretend I don’t miss having a BFF.

I guess honestly I do miss her too. But there’s no going back. Too much water under the bridge, too much life lived.

Maybe I’m ready to belong to someone again? The exact opposite of what I said three years ago. I am very good at being my own bestie. I treat myself better than anyone else ever could, and I know what I need. I’m what they call self-aware.

But sometimes I still feel sad I don’t have that one ride or die. I have close friends, don’t get me wrong. I love them dearly and they love me – but they all have their own best friends.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact it was ‘Best Friends Day’ yesterday and Instagram was awash with lovely tributes but I’m lamenting the topic hard this morning. I’ll get over it soon and go back to the stance that I’m happy as I am – and I am – but let me have this now.

Is true Best Friendship for me like true romantic love? Is there only one big one to be had in this lifetime?*

(I have to be clear this isn’t a reflection on any of my friendships, they’re all important and also, any one of them is eligible to audition for title of Ultimate BFF).

Silly, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter. I guess we all just compare ourselves to what everybody else has. I haven’t been short changed and I don’t need someone to label me to live a happy life. It’s just sometimes, in the dark moments before I drop off to sleep, this is one of the things I think about.

Oh, and things I’m looking for in the ideal best friend?

  • Funny
  • Can keep a secret
  • Non-jealous
  • Understands I’m an anxious wreck
  • Respects my need for space

I don’t mind a boy, a girl or non-binary human being, I don’t care about age. Just a decent person who accepts me for who I am.

Know anyone?

This post is brought to you in part tongue-in-cheek.

*I’m not even sure about this.

Booksmart

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night.

Kaitlyn DeverBeanie FeldsteinJessica WilliamsBillie Lourd

Olivia Wilde‘s first feature is near perfect and I can’t stop thinking about how funny, charming and lovely it is. Centred around two booksmart best friends, Amy (Dever) and Molly (Feldstein) who are just about to graduate high school and fly into their respective bright futures, it’s a wild, coming-of-age romp – and I love it.

When Molly, during a smug argument with class mate Triple A (Molly Gordon) learns that not only has her ‘slutty’ nemesis got into a good university – and so have the seemingly less academic students from her year – she freaks out. All the sacrifice of a social life and all the hard work, what was it for? Sure, she’s done well but at what cost – all this time could she and Amy have been doing both?

With just one more day of school in front of them, Molly is determined that the girls will spend their last night of freedom at the biggest pre-graduation party in town. If they can just get the address. And so commences four years of missed opportunities crammed into one night.

While our BFFs rocket around town in search of the ultimate action, Amy has something to tell Molly but hasn’t gotten around to it yet. Molly has a secret crush on popular jock Nick (Mason Gooding), who’s throwing the party of the year. Meanwhile, ‘out’ Amy has the hots for skater chick Ryan (Victoria Ruesga) but is too shy to do anything about it.

We also meet a whole host of side characters including Principal Brown (Jason Sudeikis), hot AF Miss Fine (Jessica Williams) – misunderstood douchebag Jared (Skyler Gisondo) and his kooky girlfriend Gigi (Billie Lourd). Props also to the hilarious theatre kids George (Noah Galvin) and Alan (Austin Crute) who are proper little scene-stealers.

Billie Lourd is my lover

Will the girls make it to their goal and make their last night count? Well, there’s only one way to find out. There are way worse ways to spend a couple of hours and this is a smart comedy with well-rounded characters who buck against their high-school stereotypes. Molly is forced to examine her actions when she gets to know Triple A better, ‘Triple A’ being an unkind slut-shaming nickname she’s helped to perpetuate. And Amy realises there may be more to her classmate, beautiful but mean Hope (Diana Silvers) than meets the eye.

It teaches sweet lessons without shoving them down your throats. There are always lazy comparisons when it comes to film but in this case I kind of agree that Booksmart has a decidedly Superbad vibe to it – which can only be a great thing.

BFFs FOREVER

As for the central performances, Feldstein is the queen of everything as far as I’m concerned and her BFF chemistry with Dever is completely authentic. The girls are wonderful and I’m excited to see more from them. As for Olivia Wilde, Director – I can’t wait to watch what she brings us next – she’s knocked her first feature out of the ball park.

Film details:

Booksmart
Year: 2019
Director: Olivia Wilde
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10
My Rating: 5/5

What are you watching?

Love is a Gift

It’s still November yet the John Lewis ad has already aired and I’ve been harrassed more than once by Olaf the Snowman from Frozen in the Open Market. I’m no Grinch but I do draw the line personally at embracing the Christmas Spirit before December 1st. If you’re an early Christmas lover then that’s fine, you do you hun.

I have had more than one conversation about the darker side of Christmas though and even though I don’t want to be ‘that guy’, I do think it’s important to acknowledge and understand that not everyone is full of the joys of Rudolph this time of year. The Christmas season is incredibly difficult for many people for many different reasons – and the relentless onslaught of Mariah Carey holiday songs can take its toll (is there more than one actually?). Everywhere you look when you’re not feeling it is a homage to the big man and his pals – it must be unbearable.

This very topic came up at work yesterday as a collection of us gathered around one of our phones to watch an ‘alternative’ Christmas video. You might have seen it yourself on television as its creators have been interviewed a couple of times and lots of viewers are saying it’s even better than the Elton John JL advert this year.

The concept is simple in itself, and features a thirtysomething man listening to cassette tapes on an old Walkman, left to him as a gift by his late mother. Each tape is a touching personal message recorded for him for every year she was able to do it. Its tagline is “Love is a gift that lasts forever. Merry Christmas.”

Most of us were near tears even talking about it but a couple of people pondered why we have to think about sad things at Christmas – which prompted quite an interesting debate. While I get that point, it’s not a choice for a lot of lonely or bereaved people. There are people with nothing in this world, who barely get through their day to day lives, let alone the festive season. Just because everything is sprinkled with a light dusting of glitter does not mean that those troubles go away.

This isn’t a call to arms really. There are a lot of things you can do to give back this Christmas, from volunteering to reaching out to someone who may be struggling. Even just standing up and saying you’re there for your friends and colleagues if they need anyone can be a good thing. I’ve seen a couple of Facebook statuses over 2018 that touch on that same point.

Life is tough at the best of times and Christmas is hard – it’s financially stressful, socially exhausting and there’s a lot of pressure to pull on your favourite ugly sweater and get into the spirit. What if you can’t? I just think we should be conscious of each other and kind wherever we can be.

What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, have a look at Love is a Gift, the short film mentioned above.

The Monday Feeling

I have a super power. I’m not sure why but wherever I go, people tell me things. Deep and meaningful snippets of detail from their lives that I don’t ask for. I love it though – it makes me feel good to be trusted and it must mean I have an open face.

I think sometimes if you make eye contact with someone you tend to connect with them whether you like it or not. This can backfire in certain social situations, like on holiday when you want to be left alone or on the bus. On the plane to Copenhagen, which was delayed for 2.5 hours, I got talking to the American guy beside me and by the time I’d landed I knew his fiance’s name, how he proposed, their upcoming wedding date, where he worked in Chicago and his favourite film. Not to mention his political views and where he stood on religion.

For the most part I wouldn’t change a thing – I’d much rather be approachable than not. I’m giggling as I think about the handful of friends I have that would seriously disagree with me.

Anyway, I was going to write about my favourite witch films today but have decided to bump that post in favour of this one because I’m kind of buzzing about a conversation I had with the woman in the Co-op last week, and this morning.

Before I start, I should write a disclaimer to say that the Co-op seems to be the scene of a lot of these scenarios for me. Years ago I befriended a guy behind the counter who used to give me leftover flowers most mornings and then went off to have a tummy tuck. My friend Darren found it hilarious how much information I would be bombarded with while handing over money for my cheese & pickle sandwiches. And all while the queue backed up behind me considerably.

Now it’s a woman in town who’s a little bit younger than me. On Friday she was all over the place so I asked her if she was okay. She revealed that she was in a 17 year relationship that had gone off the boil and was now messaging someone else. While I didn’t ask, she was pretty willing to go in on the fact that her long-term boyfriend was taking her for granted and the new one was exciting and super-attentive (they always are at this stage, babe). I had to tell her I’d been there in the same situation because I have – and that she should seriously try to do what’s right for herself.

Well! This morning she greeted me with the biggest smile and told me she’d ended it over the weekend. Nothing about the new guy because it isn’t even about him. It’s about her. She said she was walking on air and that it went so much better than she’d anticipated. Now she has the rest of her life to look forward to – and won’t be turning 40 in a horrible relationship. And man, I FELT HER. I felt it all.

I have been there and I remember the absolute high of finally being free, the greatest feeling of all time. The fear, the anticipation, the realisation that all future decisions were my own, that I had a choice – and that I could change everything if I wanted to. She’s going to feel up and down for a while but over all, she’s going to feel on top of the goddamn world and it makes me so happy for her. You go for it, girl, enjoy every minute!

So people tell me things and I love it but I particularly love it when it’s a good story and one I can personally cheer for. She’s so nice this lady that I imagine we could be friends in IRL. And as for all the other secrets well they stay here with me, not to be blogged about. Ever.

“That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.” ~ Damian, Mean Girls

Autumn Bucket List

I haven’t really planned much for Autumn apart from my trip, which in itself is a pretty cool thing to cross off the bucket list. I’ve always wanted to visit Copenhagen, so I guess I’ll start there.

These are the things I’ll be doing this Autumn, in no particular order.

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Copenhagen

Tora and I have been friends for years, ever since I got back from Vancouver. My old BFF was always trying to force us together, even before I left and neither of us were that into the idea. But on our own terms we inevitably fell in love and have been close ever since. This will be our first trip away together and we can’t wait.

We have rented our own apartment about 45 minutes from where all the action happens in the city and have a very vague to-do list – I want to visit The Little Mermaid, Tivoli and the design museum and just generally mooch, and Tora’s in agreement.

This is exactly what I need right now, good company, good surroundings and a shitload of good food and drink. And as you read this I will be away enjoying myself. Catch you on the flip side.

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The Perfect PSL

In a pinch obviously Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte will do but it’s not great. Much better if you have it made with soya milk. This Fall I will be searching for the perfect PSL – I have a suspicion it’s out there somewhere just waiting for me to rescue it.

I do love a seasonal drink in the late Autumn sunshine, leaves crunching satisfyingly underfoot as I amble on my way to wherever I’m going.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

IMDB Synopsis

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends.

I’m quite certain Jill will be with me on this one, and I really hope it’s great. Riverdale, like Sabrina is based on the Archie comics and was a pile of trash (sometimes in a good way, ultimately not).

Any 90’s kid worth their salt had a soft spot for Melissa Joan Hart’s Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in all it’s cheesy, all-American splendor. To be able to revisit the source material with a darker twist sounds blissful and I’m very excited about it. I’ve missed Salem the cat.

Whisper after me: Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.

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Doing Nothing

There’s an art to doing nothing and I think I have it down pat. I’ll be making far less plans in the evenings and I shall be nesting with the best of them. Heaven.

What have you got planned?

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)

I loved this stupid film. I’m in love with Mila Kunis, sue me. Pair her with Kate McKinnon and as far as I’m concerned you’re onto a winner. It’s a very silly romp sure but a very good, girl power one.

When Audrey gets dumped over text by her elusive boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux), her BFF Morgan is on hand to help her through it. After attempting to burn his stuff, he gets in touch and tells her he’ll be home soon to explain everything. Unfortunately, before this happens she is accosted by the feds who reveal his true identity.

Audrey is shocked to learn that her boyfriend is actually a spy. Well, I’ve been out with much worse tbf. When Drew finally makes contact again, he gives her instruction to travel to Europe with a secret package which Morgan encourages her do because why not? Neither of them have ever been. And the rest is a blur of spy activity which the girls quickly discover they’re actually pretty good at.

But who are the good guys, who are the bad guys – and who the hell is Drew really? Via a backdrop of glamorous European locations and elaborate disguises, our girls get to the bottom of just what the fuck is going down – which they find is easier said than done.

Hot on their heels is nimble super assassin Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) and the feds themselves, led by their boss Wendy (Gillian Anderson). There might be a new love interest in the mix too in the form of pretty Sebastian (Sam Heughan), one of the agents on Drew’s case.

Well it’s a romp alright and I laughed my arse off. McKinnon is always good but sometimes suffers for the material she’s given while Kunis has tremendous comic timing. Together I totally bought their chemistry as best friends – and I found it refreshing that there’s no side story in which the two of them fall out. Their friendship remains intact to the end.

I hope they turn this into a franchise because I haven’t had this much fun with female spies since well, Spy. But also Charlie’s Angels.

My Rating

4.5/5.