Category Archives: Mad About the Brain

Chapter Eight: Body Confidence and Me

Growing up, I had absolutely no issues with my image whatsoever; when my dad told me that Prince had written Most Beautiful Girl in the World about me, it was simply a given that he was absolutely and unwaveringly correct, so my incessant swaying whenever the song came on, purely made sense. I was thanking Prince through the method of sway-dance for writing a pretty accurate song about me. Every day, my parents would grab me in their arms, hug me and tell me that I was beautiful, something I accepted willingly – I guess I was really beautiful! I had no other means of comparing myself to anyone and I didn’t think of ever doing so and I don’t think that anyone ever compared themselves to me, it was just something that wasn’t done in the nineties, I guess; we spent more time playing games and deciding which Spice Girl we were, rather than worrying about who’s body was better than the rest. Truthfully, it took me a very, very long time to develop any form of body issues and think that it was my later teens that triggered the insecurities I cling onto now.

I was a teenager in the early 2000s and I’m not sure if something happened during this time that resulted in an entire generation of young girls suddenly loathing themselves, or if body confidence issues have been a popular bone of contention for every girl of every generation since the beginning and we were simply receiving the baton from those before us, but to me, it just feels like body confidence is a very modern issue affecting women these days and that my generation were truly the first to feel the bitter sting of self-doubt and loathing. I’m not sure about anyone else, but to me it felt like almost an immediate thing; one day I was simply me: a girl who wore clothes and did things with her time, wore shoes and sometimes wore a ponytail in her hair, and then all of a sudden, I felt that I was too tall, that my breasts were deformed; I felt dorky and plump, dreadfully awkward in my own too pale skin. I’m not sure where this idea came from, because I had gotten through the early part of my teenaged years quite easily and back then I had been covered in spots and my skin was greasier than a takeaway pizza, my limbs growing longer than the rest of me… I had no issues then. I still thought that I was simply a human, existing in society, maybe not the most beautiful girl in the world, because I found out that my dad liked to extend the truth a lot (like, who knew that dads didn’t give birth to boys?!), but I didn’t feel monumentally grotesque or anything else of the sort.

Growing up, role models were never really my thing and I never felt that I wanted to model my appearance on anyone in particular. There aren’t really many women from my childhood that I remember being obsessed with, other than potentially The Spice Girls as a collective and Ethel from The Worst Witch, who just so happens to play the bad witch making the protagonists life hell, but she wore really fierce boots and was top of her class at everything, a total teachers pet and I loved her. If you haven’t seen the film, you can find it all on Youtube and below is a picture of my favourite character from the movie:

Ethel_1986

In spite of all this, I didn’t emulate anyone in particular and this adoration of Ethel the bitchy witch didn’t extend further than asking my mam if I could have boots like hers for school… And I did:

1 worst witch phase

The same could indeed be said of my earlier teenage years; most of my heroes were male musicians from the punk scene or in some cases, incredibly pale, long haired, piercy blue eyes Finnish metal gods. I did love the screen sirens of times foregone, such as Doris Day, but not in the sense that I looked at my body and thought that I needed to change it, or that it was inadequate in some way. I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment, but it began to fester within me, I guess, when I started watching The OC. At the time, I’m pretty certain it was a cultural phenomenon and everyone was affected by it and loved it; I was so in love with Seth Cohen that I genuinely typed, Curly haired Jewish boys in Newcastle, into Google and hoped I would find him staring back at me with comic book t-shirts and great taste in music. When Anna was introduced, she could have been, arguably, the first person I ever wanted to emulate as a teenager. She was so cool and adorable; I cut my hair off to look just like her and for the first time, I began reading comics and fell in love with Betty White. All I really managed to do was look like a pixie boy and prove to people that I was a weirdo obsessed with old people, but she still embodied a lot of the characteristics I recognised in myself as a teenager at the time; I was quirky and wise beyond my years, or at least I thought so and her wardrobe was enviable to the point I began dressing like her too, much to the chagrin of my poor mother who had no idea what the fuck I was trying to accomplish.

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For me, I think college was the first step towards me becoming the big ball of insecurity and anxiety I am today. When I started college, my parents offered to buy me new clothes and whilst I was incredibly grateful for their offer, I really regret the entire day, even now. It’s one of those memories that burns in my subconscious like a perpetual, horrific flame intent on ruining my life. You see, my dad insisted on coming with me that day and he hates shopping. My dad insisted on coming shopping with someone who loved the likes of Topshop and complained at everything in there. I can’t remember where I shopped in the end, but I dragged him around the shops for far too long, until he and my mam began to tell me what college was really like, so I had a better grasp on what kind of fashion ensembles to purchase. Turns out my parents were remembering their college years in the eighties as though they had gone to college in America in the sixties and what I ended buying made me look like the perpetually bare foot, long haired, bearded, hand-held drum playing marijuana expert; I was basically dressed in a Jesus t-shirt and khaki green combat trousers that my parents insisted were super-duper cool and that’s why they weren’t in Topshop, but at the back of a shop AND ON SALE. I also ended up buying a turquoise blue golf inspired jumper with other golf related colours on, which I wore ON TOP OF a shirt with FLARED jeans. I am so ashamed to admit that, until I started my first day of college, I thought I looked okay.

On my first day, the entire college was awash with really attractive, well dressed individuals. Women who looked as though they’d been up for hours perfecting their hair and picking out all the right accessories to go with their skinny jeans, heeled boots and cinched at the waist by massive belt style tops. I wore pink trainers with cherries on them, flares and the dork ensemble that made me look less like Anna from The OC and more like my parents had banished me from our Amish camp because they heard me listen to rock music one time. I was mortified. Even more so when I saw that there were people wearing the band t-shirts I so desperately wanted to wear, with skinny jeans, Converse and studs. I owned pink Converse! I could totally fit in! All day, I internally cursed my stupid parents for having such an influence over my fashion choices, because of their free admission that I had shit taste in clothes. Now, I realise that we were partaking in the eternal struggle between teenager and parent and that, for the first time in history, parents won and I allowed myself to be controlled by their ridiculously misplaced love. Arseholes!

Eventually, I found my own style and wore a lot of brightly coloured tank tops with t-shirts underneath, a lot of black and I eventually started buying my own accessories that made me look like I was trying to perform an African wedding ceremony on a daily basis, but it still makes me think back with abject horror at how bad I looked, but I still had no real issue with my body. Just my fashion choices… Sorry, MY PARENTS FASHION CHOICES. I then developed a distinctively 60s style, but a better one that seemed to be because of my burgeoning obsession with Ms Edie Sedgwick, out came the dramatic eyes and the big old earrings… Gone was the dorky girl who listened to her stupid parents!

The first time I ever felt horrible about how I looked, I was going into Newcastle for a night out with my sisters and one of my nurse friends. I was wearing grey shorts with black tights and a black top that fastened at the top of my neck, for some reason, with a black cardigan (I always wear cardigans!) my hair was tied up and my makeup consisted of the white eyeshadow with black eyeliner as I was going through my Edie Sedgwick phase and bright red lips. I remember standing in front of my mirror looking at my ‘then’ ridiculously flat stomach, before turning my attention to my round, seemingly pert derriere and thinking I’M A FUCKING WHALE I HATE MYSELF. I cried my make-up off and made it clear to my sister and mother that I didn’t want to go. Unfortunately, my sister really did want to go, so I had no choice. So along I went, in the clothes that I hated, my make-up reapplied and I sipped a few cocktails. Eventually, we decided to go dancing and went to a bar I haven’t been in since. On our way out, something hit me on the top of the head and when my sister turned around to see blood pouring down my face like I’d just stepped off the Carrie set, she began pushing and screaming to get me to safety. Someone had dropped a glass bottle on me from upstairs and burst my skull open, as far as I was aware. I knew I didn’t want to go out.

1 head

Now, admittedly, when I don’t feel that I look okay and have anxious feelings about leaving the comfort of my home, I think back to that night and realise that it was karma. I did look fat, I did look hideous and I should never have left the house. A broken head was my punishment.

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Chapter Six: What Goodfellas Has Taught Me

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster…

Goodfellas is my favourite movie of all time; it’s not even an argument, just a matter of fact. I’m even quite confident in stating that Goodfellas I the best movie ever created. I know, right? Big statement, but it’s okay because I’m right. Like, don’t bring me any of this Citizen Kane shit. Have you watched that movie? It’s God Awful. Goodfellas is a slice of movie gold and I refuse to even debate it with you – I would sooner eat your brains right out of your skull with a spoon than debate any other film that can even compare to the greatness that is Goodfellas. When I first watched it, I was so excited and so inspired by the movie that I legitimately wanted to give up my normal life and find some gangsters to be my friends. My mother will openly admit that she was genuinely worried about me becoming a murderer or some kind of psychopath because whenever I saw the bit with Ray Liotta smashing that Jewish man’s face up, I would turn to her and say, “God, Ray Liotta is so sexy!” and I stand by it. So, here I bring you, a list of valuable lessons I’ve learned from the movie that may potentially help you in your own quest in becoming a gangster.

Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut:

Do so and Robert De Niro will hand you money and pull you into his amazing chest and snuggle you for being a good kid. I’ve always lived by this mantra, even before I knew about the movie. One time, my sister and I were playing at a friend’s house and we decided to play ‘murder’ because we’re normal and well adjusted children. Anyway, we decided to close all of the curtains to make it dark and when our friend’s mother came in and realised we’d ruined her curtains, she asked who did it and both my sister and I kept our mouth shut. But, we did rat on our friend by pointing at her until her mother made us go home, so I guess I only did half of that. Never mind, she wasn’t my friend any way, she was my sister’s. So really my sister is a filthy rat and not me.

Be distrustful of the telephone:

When has anything good happened from using a telephone? Nothing good, that’s what. Basically, phones now are like an extension of ourselves and we’re constantly going offline to slave away to our telephones. It’s a habit none of us can kick and I genuinely believe that it’s the first sign of robots becoming self-aware; I’m a slave to it too, which basically means my worst fear is coming true. Fuck, our phones can even talk to us now. Anyway, I also feel that telephones, in particular land lines, are the secret killers of all single, white females, so if you are any of those things, you should probably throw your phone away. Look at murder movies, they’re constantly talking to their murderers on the telephone and all they end up doing is running blindly, falling over and then being stabbed to death. Dangerous, I tell you. Also, a telephone basically RUINED Goodfellas: every single time there was bad news… how did you find out? Telephone. See, nothing good has come from using the phone.

Never tell Joe Pesci to go and get his fucking shine box

He hates that thing, and he will kill you for bringing it up in front of his new, fancy friends. Dick.

See? You see what you did, Billy?!

Don’t Point a gun in your husband’s face unless you intend to pull the trigger. Nothing good will come of it.

I think in general, you should refrain from pointing a gun in the face of anyone because they shouldn’t be used to dish out life lessons and should only be used for violence and to be a successful part of American culture. Also, you’ll probably regret trying to teach your gangster husband a lesson. Because if he has to worry about getting whacked on the street as well as at home, then he will leave home and you’ll be left on the floor, crying and apologising profusely. But, you should take comfort in the fact that your legs look pretty bangin’

If you suspect your husband is cheating on you, hunt the bitch down and harass her in her home

I think generally, if you suspect your husband is cheating on you, you should have pulled that fucking trigger. You’d be in jail, but at least the other bitch wouldn’t get to sleep with him either. Win, win kind of. Also, if you’re the woman sleeping with the married man, you probably should expect that his wife will at some point find out and be pissed off at you. You should also graciously accept that you are, in fact, a whore.

If someone ignores your drink order, shoot them in the foot

As a bar man, it’s your job to take everyone’s drink order, even if you don’t particularly like them. In this case, especially if you don’t like them, because odds are they are crazy and will seek to cause you physical harm for not getting the drink he actually ordered. Learn to LISTEN or you might end up being labelled as a mumbling, stuttering little prick and get shot during an elaborate game of ‘The Sundance Kid’ as you try to fetch them.

Don’t’ Bust Balls

Especially if you’re a much older member of the friendship group and only one person likes you. Especially if you’re going to do this around gangsters. You aren’t a gangster, so you obviously don’t know their ways, but as with any loan, you really should have looked into what you were getting yourself in for before you requested it. Because you will, like so many before you, die with a corkscrew in the back of your stupid, shmuck on wheels head.

When in doubt, shoot.

Possibly the greatest lesson you’ll learn in life. Someone annoying you? Shoot them. Someone disrespected you? Shoot them. It’s the same principle for if you owe someone money or you simply really wanted your drink quicker than they were willing to bring it.

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Chapter Five: THINGS THAT TERRIFY ME ABOUT PROCREATION

In light of my most recent blog, in which I outlined the horrors of Becoming A Woman, I began thinking about my future and what I should expect of my body if and when the time comes, I choose to house a proverbial bun in my toasty warm and equally proverbial oven. Truth be told, I find the whole concept of being pregnant and the act of childbirth horrendous and I genuinely don’t believe people when they say that it wasn’t painful. I mean, you’re shoving a human out of your happy place, what part of ‘excruciating hell pain’ doesn’t compute? Also, I’ve known women shit themselves and tear their happy place in two, purely to give birth to a tiny human who spends a long time crying, shitting, eating and repeating that process to the detriment of your sleep pattern. I find it terrifying.

Women are also divided in their opinions of pregnancy and childbirth and I’ve noticed that in my own social circles, I have been regarded as a bit of a lunatic for not lying back and thrusting a bairn or two out of my vagina. In the past, people have actually openly tutted at me and looked me up and down upon discovering that I, in my early twenties, actively elect to remain without a child. Apparently, admitting that I’d much rather focus on a career in my twenties and also stating that if I do choose to have a baby in the future that I’d quite like to be married first as, as well as being in a financially stable situation to be able to provide everything and then some for the tiny version of myself, should  I decide I want to have a baby. Apparently, I didn’t make this clear and people have heard me say, ‘I HATE BABIES AND WANT TO THROW MY FECES AT YOUR BABY AND YOUR LIFE CHOICES. I WANT TO SIP CHAMPAGNE FROM A GOBLET MADE ENTIRELY OF BABY BONE AND THEN THROW THAT GOBLET IN YOUR STUPID FACE, MOTHER-HUMAN!’ You can see where the confusion arose, I’m sure…

Don’t get me wrong, I support women who choose to have a baby regardless of their financial or professional situation; it’s a choice, after all and all women are more than welcome to choosing their own life path without input from anyone, especially me. I can’t even tell my right from my left, most times. It’s just the entire concept of it is so terrifying to me: Housing a baby in your uterus. A baby. A human baby. A baby that will one day walk and talk and eventually house a baby of its own; it feels a little Human Centipede like to me… but you know, in the most beautiful way imaginable. Of course.

Parts of pregnancy I enjoy, both in terms of seeing it happen to other people and I imagine enjoying myself if the time comes is that society in general are appreciative and celebrate your every growing stomach. They will also ask to touch it occasionally, so that they can admire it’s sheer size up close and personal. I’m not sure about you, but I would love it if people did that with my tummy now, but they don’t, they look at it and frown and ask how much strain my jeans are under, which I find offensive on so many levels. I also like that everyone treats you like a queen and constantly asks you if you need anything and also tell you that you look beautiful all the time, even though you haven’t seen your feet in weeks and literally cannot control your flatulence but even that is oddly charming because the baby is lying funny inside you, or is gassy itself. Charming.

Parts of pregnancy I don’t enjoy, both in terms of seeing it happen to other people and how I imagine I will feel if and when the time comes is that from the moment this tiny little invader makes its way into YOUR body, after you openly invited it inside, it takes over and for the rest of your life, your body is not your own. Especially during pregnancy: You eat some food the baby doesn’t like? Oops, vomit. You enjoyed wine once upon a time? Oops, no can do, I’m allergic. You want to go to that sushi bar with your friends? Sorry, raw fish isn’t good for me, I’M A BABY. It’s very annoying. Also I don’t enjoy that it just makes itself at home and begins MOVING things around – like your HIPS, did you know that your hips will change and move to accommodate the baby in the birth canal? No, neither did I. I like my hips. I’m very angry about this, baby. Also, babies are HUGE. One of my best friends gave birth to a really tiny baby recently, which kind of seems okay, but then my cousin gave birth to a baby that was NINE POUNDS. I’ve said in the past ‘oh, nine pounds, imagine shoving that out of your vagina!’ with no real perception of how much nine pounds really is, other than the fact that it is considered large for a baby, but really I have no idea. So, for your information and also for mine, I have just looked up house hold items that weigh roughly nine pounds so we can put this shit into perspective:

  • A turkey

  • Forty sticks of butter
  • An entire sack of potatoes
  • A bowling ball

  • An average sized three month old baby
  • Roughly four and a half bottles of 2 litre Coca Cola

Man not included.

I mean, that’s huge! Vaginas aren’t that big, but they are able to stretch to push out a tiny human whom they have literally baked inside of themselves for nine months… a baby that weighs the same as a bowling ball. I went bowling recently and I dropped the bowling ball. Babies are heavy. Going back to my last post about clever sperm, all I can say is that sperm is thick as shit; all you have to do is just keep swimming and kill your brothers until you reach the sweet spot. Women have to literally morph themselves into all sorts of shapes and sizes and then shove out A TURKEY from their vagina! If you are slightly confused by my outrage, please, take a minute out of your day to either look at your own vagina, or ask someone very nicely if you can look at theirs so you can comprehend the idea of a full size turkey making its way out of it. Terrifying, right? Right.

Obviously, alongside the other perks you then have a tiny human who will love you more than life itself, unless you’re a bad mother and then it will hate you. You will also have massive tits if you choose to breastfeed, but I already have those so really all I’m going for is being fat and beautiful and maybe the human who loves me. In all honesty, though, I am more than happy to wait until they have invented some kind of transporter from Star Trek and then the baby can literally be transported out by sending me beam me up, mama brain waves. And then I’ll do it.

StarTrek_Calendar_March_sml

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Chapter Four: Becoming a Woman

If you didn’t read that in a calming, soothing voice akin to Counsellor Diana Troy’s voice from Star Trek: Next Generation, then you have failed me. Go back, read it again, and come back to me with a fresh perspective and better attitude towards the piece I’m about to write. Back? Okay, thanks for that. If you’re male and/or slightly squeamish and are reading this with increasing trepidation that I’m about to go into a Vagina Monologue style rant about my first period or the first time I touched myself, then don’t worry, because I probably won’t. But then again, I might do, because I’m cruel and also because I’m trying to practice literary improvisation.

A lot of the things I read online tell me that gender roles are established very early on in life, depending on what toys you play with, thus, modern parenting techniques advise that parents don’t force their kids to play with toys depending on what part of the toy store they’re in; let kids be kids and choose their own way in life is the mantra. Anyway, I never had that. I played with Barbies and dolls (well, I smacked their faces against walls) I played with prams (ran over bees with the wheels) and played with toy make up and jewellery, as well as girly arts and crafts – I never grew up feeling that my place as in the home or in the kitchen (unless the fridge was fully stocked) and I don’t hold any kind of resentment towards my parents now for me playing with gender specific toys. Granted, I had both of my parents telling me on the daily that I would be a smart, career driven, independent woman who would be able to drive, tell the time without getting confused when the afternoon rolled in and never forgetting which way is right and which way is left, meaning I would just point in directions and say ‘over there’ by the time I was twenty six. Parenting successful, you guys, you can retire now… Anyway, I never felt that my toys were a suggestion of my future to come, nor did I think they were sending me subliminal messages, telling me that I’d make a great home maker/mother/wife, because my parents screamed even louder in my face that I would be AMAZING and BRILLIANT and high fived me when I didn’t wet the bed… In a way, I’m pretty pissed off that my toys didn’t have more of an influence over the adult I’d become, because my favourite toy, Barbie, had an amazing life and other than the subsequent body/self esteem issues I’d undoubtedly acquire by being too influenced by the blonde babe I played with daily, I’d still have been pretty happy with the outcome.

My Barbie dolls were awesome and their lives were pretty sweet. They lived in a giant mansion, all together with their best friends and enemies alike and they’d go on all sorts of adventures and divorce and marry people within a week. Imagine that life? It’d be like Dyansty! More to the point, I’d have been married to a Ken doll and we would have been amazingly well dressed and matching at all times. He would have enormous pectoral muscles, which I don’t agree with, and a questionable crotch region, which I agree with even less, but with the wealth of Barbie and Ken and the abundance of available plastic in the world, we’d be able to sort that kind of thing out, no problem at all. Life would be sweet. I’d also have an entire wardrobe style house full of clothes and every single day would be my first day at a new job. It would be like that first scene in Clueless where Cher is sorting out her outfit du jour via her amazingly technologically advanced computer; the only difference being, that my outfit match would be what I’d be doing as a job that day. My work week may have even looked like this:

Monday: Palaeontologist
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Tuesday: Canadian Mountie
Wednesday: Yoga Teacher
Thursday: Surgeon
Friday: Ambassador for World Peace
Saturday: NASCAR Driver
Barbie-nascar-barbie-collectors-5207141-1913-2560

Sunday: Princess

I mean, that’s way better than any of your careers, right?

Unfortunately, my toys had very little influence over my life. Unless you count my Speak and Spell which taught me how to spell swear words correctly and maybe my doll pram for killing all of those bees.

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Do you remember watching ‘coming of age’ movies and TV episodes in the likes of Sister Sister, where they’d discuss womanhood like it was some kind of amazing journey we were about to go on, filled with love and romance and in the end, a tub of ice cream and laughs with our best friends for life humans? Then, as it got closer, all it really entailed was a lot of general hysteria at not only your perpetually changing body, but at the entire world around you for being so selfish by not realising your CONSTANT DAILY STRUGGLE WITH EXISTENCE!!! I was expecting magic carpet rides and new found responsibilities that had absolutely nothing to do with shaving my arms or legs, or being metaphorically thrust into the world with new squishy bags on my chest, thus suddenly agonisingly aware of my SELF and the perpetual gaze of the male ascending on me every time I chose to leave the house. It was awful.

Suffice it to say that I didn’t enjoy growing into a woman very much at all; I mean, I love it now, because I’m a woman and I firmly believe that is a great thing to be. I can’t think of anything that wields as much power as a woman’s vagina, except maybe her cleavage in a bar. Or more important things like what a woman has to go through to bring life into the world. There are some people who champion the sheer genius behind sperm and go into advance scientficit discussions about how far the sperm has to travel and out of the millions and millions THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE that assists in the creation of new life.

I’m not sure about you, but when I hear that, I’m sitting there metaphorically patting the head of which ever idiot has come out with that one, before retorting with what actual reproductive heroics actually entails. Firstly, women only have a certain amount of eggs and they start depleting from the moment we start our periods – did you guys know this?! – so when people start talking about biological clocks ticking, they don’t mean that one day you’ll wake up and have an overwhelming urge to reproduce and maybe, potentially steal a baby off the street, like I thought happened… Oh no: It means that you only have a certain amount and that the more periods you get, the more you lose them, because they just disappear. So if you only have like thirty eggs in your uterus and you’ve been a woman since you were like, eleven, then maybe you won’t have eggs in you at all and you’ll be BARRON. Which is really unfair when you think about it, like men can just wank incessantly on the daily for their entire lives and even when they’re like, ninety, they can still use that sperm to impregnate someone. I’m foaming I can’t do that with my vagina eggs.

I genuinely expected that becoming a woman would bring with it some kind of epiphany and that my entire life’s purpose would suddenly become abundantly clear, but other than the fact that I woke up in a pool of my own blood wishing I was born with a penis and that I could now house babies in my womb (ones that were grown there, not just put there as some kind of horrifically upsetting babysitting service) and that the concept of ‘babies raising babies’ suddenly became very clear to me, nothing else really changed. I still liked cartoons and I still believed in Santa Claus and cried when I didn’t get my own way. When I think about it now, I think of it in terms of history and how women throughout life were treated once they began menstruating, relief washing over me when I realised that upon having my period, my dad didn’t trade me in for a few goats to a middle aged man, I was lucky that my dowry remained very much non-existent. I was also lucky that my period coincided with the new millennium; otherwise I may have potentially been procreating for a well over a decade now and making food for a much older man, whose sweaty body had no concern for mine at all (what? The nineties were weird, man!). In a way, becoming a woman for me, meant staying a child, and I found that pretty awesome.

Me, on my 12th birthday, seducing babes, being a woman.

Me, on my 12th birthday, seducing babes, being a woman.

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My Career Aspirations Growing Up.

Maybe I could be a telephone operator! No… I wouldn’t like to wear those things over my ears. I wish I had a guardian angel, you know like Debbie Reynolds had in Tammy? What do you think?

As someone who, at the age of twenty six, seems to be having a career orientated life crisis on an almost daily basis and is generally anxious about her future because she has no idea what she wants to do other than earn money and buy shoes, I thought it pertinent to add a post depicting my journey through desired career choices that I’ve had since being a small child. As you will probably be able to tell whilst reading, I had very little grasp on reality growing up and was constantly changing my mind about career choices, which is probably why I’m so cast adrift now. Thanks, child me!

Teacher – I think every girl wanted to be a teacher growing up. I wanted to be a teacher, because my teacher at the time had really nice shoes with bows on and I liked the sound they made when she walked through the classroom. Also I was persistently top of the class when I was a kid and liked being the favourite of pretty much all of my teachers and also I was always picked to read first and was colour-groups ahead of my classmates who I helped teach how to read. So really becoming a teacher was a natural calling in my life, at this point, as let’s face it, aside from the great shoes and the wages, I was a teacher. One of the career choices people constantly tell me to look into is teaching, but as I grew older, I realised that kids are little bastards and that the older they get, the more arsey they become. I genuinely don’t think I’d be able to keep a level head with some puberty ridden shit bag being a nuisance in my class. I’d end up on the front of all national newspapers as the woman who beheaded a little bastard for bad-mouthing Shakespeare. And I’d stand by it too, the little rat.

Vet – If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t think I knew what being a vet entailed growing up. All I really knew is that I liked watching Animal Hospital and loved watching the vets talk about the animals in great detail, soothing, calming tones lulling both me and the animal into a false sense of security. I would still like to be a vet today, but I wouldn’t want to operate on anything or euthanise anything either. Really, I guess all I wanted to be and what I would still like to be, is a professional dog and cat stroker, which according to my career’s officer at school, doesn’t exist and I should probably focus on a more realistic career goal instead.

Woman who walks around museum pointing at stuff and then talking about it – I don’t think that’s the real name of this particular career choice, but all I had in my head was a “curator” which is something different; I think that’s the name of someone who gathers stuff in the museum, rather than shows groups of school kids around. Anyway, I went on a school trip when I was little and this is what sparked my initial interest. An amazingly articulate woman showed us around and I decided that I wanted to be her, so when I got home, I presented my sister and mother with all of the things we owned in our living room and spoke proficiently and seriously about how all of our living room objects were from ancient China. Maybe guess what the exhibit we were shown around was? Ancient Chinese artefacts. I needn’t have gone, given my living room was bursting with the stuff!

Librarian – This career choice was generally a no brainer for me, given my passion for books and reading growing up, but really, at the time of deciding this, all I really wanted to do was own my own library and be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, however, given my abundant intelligence from a young age, I guess deep down I knew that girls didn’t fall for hairy-wolf-men that were made that way by magical white witches, so I thought that entirely ruled out the Disney Princess option, thus librarian became my only real option. I changed my mind during my first year of comprehensive school when I realised that our librarian was a mean, cruel woman who wanted to keep us away from all of the books by not letting us in the library at all, which not only negates the idea of a library, but makes all librarians absolute wankers, if you ask me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – what? I did want to be Buffy. I liked the way she kicked and punched and I loved her snappy retorts to vampires and people in general. She was cool and confident, she was fierce and unstoppable and a vampire, one that filled my pre-teen heart with gooey feelings, fell in love with her! Then later on, a really bad vampire fell in love with her and become all soft and gooey too! It was very inspirational to, not only a hopeless romantic, but to someone who also grew up wanting to be the pink Power Ranger – at the time, even I knew a Power Ranger was inaccessible to a girl like me, but a vampire slayer? Totally realistic.

Singer/Songwriter or Britney Spears Impersonator – Stop judging me!! I am not at all ashamed that I went through a period of wanting to be Britney Spears. Did you see the video for Hit me Baby One More Time her loneliness was KILLING her and all she wanted was to play basketball. I may have misconstrued the point of the video, but regardless, she was a pretty amazing role model at the time. She kind of lost her shine a little bit during The Meltdown of 2007, but by this time I had already moved on to wanting to be both Beyonce and Marianne Faithful, so I really didn’t care. Anyway, at the time, I used to practice dancing and singing constantly, as well as doing my hair and make up to look like a little songstress. My parents were genuinely worried about me during this period and had a discussion with me that pretty much led them to crushing my dreams by telling me that I realistically couldn’t be a pop star/dancer. I’m not sure if it’s because they assumed it would be impossible for me to break into this world without compromising my virginity or because they didn’t think I was good enough. I should probably ask them.

Tennis Player – this was a constant one growing up, every time Wimbledon was plastered all over the television. When we lived in Holland we had this huge drive way and I would go into the garden and slam the ball against the wall, whilst making the best and not at all inappropriate for my age tennis noises. Admittedly, I did get quite good at slamming the ball off the wall and it did keep me fit throughout the summer, but I didn’t keep it up. Like all british teenagers once they get into comprehensive school and realise that doing anything leaves you open for incessant, cruel critique, so I gave up pretending to be a tennis player and put my racket down for good.

Lawyer – Admittedly, I might have only wanted to be a lawyer because I had seen too many episodes of Ally McBeal or potentially too many movies. But to me, I loved the idea of storming into a room and being like ‘OI, I have the evidence here that proves you’re all crooks! YOU HEAR ME, CROOKS!!’ or given the fact that I am really good at arguing and love giving self-righteous speeches whilst mounted steadfastly onto my high horse, that might have also been the reason that prompted me to want to be the voice of the law. Plus, again, I also really liked the clothes and shoe choices and the tap clap tap of court shoes as they bustled through full of law-like knowledge.

Fashion Designer – No, seriously. This was a genuine career desire of mine throughout school. I loved art and design and I wanted to take those as my options, go to college and take art, before applying to university to do fashion. I had it all planned out and I did have an abundance of talent in the old art department, so it made sense. An English teacher of mind found out and hauled my mother into school to beg her to force me to take more academic subjects, because my future lay with English and all the career choices that would leave me open to (all, Mrs Walker, ALL? I literally have done zero things with my degree other than starting this blog. I am foaming about it, in all honesty!) so they coerced me into taking French, Geography and History, which I aced, because I am brilliant, but didn’t really enjoy because all I wanted to do was draw and become the next Coco Chanel. But whatever, dreams are for rookies and kids, right?

Writer – In spite of all the fashion designer business, one thing did remain resolute: I was excellent at English literature and language and writing was another passion. I got a typewriter one year for Christmas when I was really small as well as a tiny desk and I would sit in the living room tapping away on the typewriter, even before I could write or form words. Then, as I learned, I would write stories and pass them onto my mam and dad, who would read them and tell me I was brilliant. So writing has always been something that I wanted to do and probably will remain with me until I’m an old lady, embittered with literary failure, making me become the type of old person who stabs knives through the footballs of local children who dare kick it near my property. I will also be the type of old lady who spits at the youths too, but that’s a story for a different time. Anyway, I’ve always written stories and still jot down ideas for short stories, novels, children’s literature, but have absolutely no motivation to do it, due to the fact that I am overwhelmingly terrified of being an even bigger failure than I am now, or being told that something I really want to do is something I’m not very good at. Just like fashion.

I think in this day and age a little despondency in one’s twenties regarding a career and professional future is pretty much resolute. I never wanted to be some phone monkey answering phones as a career… a stop gap, a way to pay the bills, maybe, but I wanted more and I think I always will be that type of person. So until then, I guess I remain a little bit like Frenchie, except with really shit hair.

 

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Chapter Two – Family

Family:
Noun
A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

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In short, you could say that my birth was a success. My parents wanted a baby and they received me, so I guess you could call that a success. Then again, unless my mother gave birth to a smart car and audibly wailed at the sight of my four wheels instead of human limbs, I guess their expectations were bound to be met… anyway, suffice it to say, I enjoyed being a baby as far as photographs can tell me, but then again, tiny humans lead the best lives ever and unless they’re hungry, or tired or have just defecated themselves, they pretty much live a really cool, non-stressful lifestyle, which I am sure all new mothers will attest to, quite happily. I was also a very cute baby, which I say without a degree of narcissism; I had those chunky big baby arms and legs that you can’t help but want to sink your teeth into and enormously round blue eyes that I still own now, funnily enough. The only thing, when I look back at photographs of myself as a baby, as something I really dislike is the fact that I had an absolutely enormous head. Now, I’ve been told that I have a really small head, but back then it was huge – I think I might have been born with an adult head instead of a baby head and my body has just grown round it, lest it grew further and I was bullied throughout life for not being able to fit through doors. Anyway, I was a pretty cute baby and generally not one of those babies that parents say are cute, but when you look at them and recoil in horror, guessing that this particular baby is a face only a mother could love – I was an all-round adorable winner.

In spite of all this, my parents decided to have another pop at procreation and whilst I guess it would have been fun for all involved to have a tiny human of a different gender, they lucked out and got another female human and that, my friends, is how my sister was born as far as I know. I guess because it wasn’t about me, I never took the time to ask. Other than hearing about my dad exclaiming ‘IT’S A BOY!’ only to be told by the nurses that no, sir, that’s just the umbilical cord, I don’t know anything else, and really, after that story, what else is there you need to know? We were introduced in the hospital where she was born. My grandparents led me into the room and I walked over to my mam, who was cradling the brand new, tiny human in her arms and my response was to walk away and run up and down the corridors for the remainder of the visit. I was no longer the medical marvel, or the centre of attention; there was a new adorable human in town. I think if I’d known I was going to be meeting my very first and very best life-long friend, I probably would have made more of an effort, but seriously, what do you want from me?  I was one!

My sister and I have always been close and I honestly do consider her to be one of the greatest humans who has ever graced the planet and what makes her even more amazing is the fact that she doesn’t even know. She’s a really slight, petite and thin human which makes the tall and naturally curvaceous with bits of padding here and there part of my personality want to stab her every time I see her. She has these enormous dark chocolate, almost black eyes, stupendously high cheek bones and everything about her is just perfect and small; she’s like a doll who has just stepped out of a children’s fairytale or a masterpiece of some sort. In my eyes, she’s perfect and her hair, her gloriously long, down to her waist; curly, shiny hair is the thing I most covet in life. If she wasn’t my sister I would hate her guts.

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In a pretty brilliant move, my parents nipped the ever popular concept of ‘sibling rivalry’ in the bud before it had time to grow and be nourished as our bitterness for each other grew and as a result, my friendship with my sister has been persistently rock solid for almost twenty five years. They instilled in us from a young age that when you had a sister, you always had a friend and part of me makes me think that my parents stole this from a sickly sweet sit-com they watched growing up, or they had some kind of cheesy parental handbook filled with corny one liners, but either way, it was pretty good advice, if not a bit vomit inducing for the non-saccharin amongst us. There was also another snippet of advice given from one of the parental units that has been said so many times, I can’t remember which one said it and the sentence I am about to write is paraphrased with some intense emotional intent for dramatic purposes, so just be warned, but anyway, either the man or the woman said: There is nothing in life more important than the four of us, whether you’re happy or sad, rich or poor, near or far, we will always be there for each other and there will always be a home for you with mam and dad. Which is pretty amazing advice, really. Or, depending on how you read it and if we’d decided to choose a life of crime, it could sound pretty much like a pact that is relatively tantamount to saying: If we get caught, murder suicide pact, who’s in?! But I don’t think my mother’s catholic roots would allow it. I joke, but it’s something that I genuinely wear as a badge of honour; there’s nothing more important in life than the closeness of one’s family!

Over the years we did some amazing stuff together and whilst we haven’t had a lifestyle that saw us travelling to certain places on the globe and we only really had three holidays abroad during childhood, we still managed to have an amazing life. My dad’s career took us to Holland for three years and my sister and I can speak fluent Dutch and played the national sport for our local village. I did end up getting bullied and hated my life for a while, but I try not to blame my dad for that, I tend now just to blame the entire country of Holland for a few shit kids instead! As a result, my sister and I didn’t suffer some kind of childhood traumatic event that affected us well into our adulthood, but when you’re writing about your childhood you’re supposed to write about something that could potentially be construed as poor parenting, so I guess I’ll try my best to conform:

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That’s a small me sitting on the sofa of our first family home. Don’t I look adorable drinking from my can of Stone’s lager? My mam is not a lager drinker, but my dad is, so it’s pretty clear to see that we can place the blame entirely on my dad and let him know that it’s his fault that I’m such an alcoholic now. Except that I don’t drink lager and I drink wine, but really it’s just lady beer, so he’s still in the wrong. I am sure that both of my parents would like me to tell you all that it was EMPTY when I put my face against it, but they were young and probably also liars, so I’ll just let you guys decide whether or not they inadvertently fed alcohol to their small human or not, were mortified, but not mortified enough to carry out a photo-shoot. This is what happens when you have kids in your twenties.

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One time I hurt my leg and had to wear a cast for weeks. It was an itchy, hot cast that I can’t really remember anyone asking to write on, which is pretty upsetting. It had a heel so that I didn’t walk with a limp and when the doctor said that I’d be okay to do all the things that I could do before I had my accident, like pour myself a glass of juice, I’d be fine and my parents weren’t to mollycoddle me. Which would have been fine if I’d ever poured myself a glass of juice in my life, so when I asked for one and my dad piped up with ‘Now, now, Doris, the doctor said you could pour your own drinks!’ and I spilled it all over the bench, we really have no one but him to blame there, really, do we? For shame, father. The reason I wore the cast, you ask? Well, I fell off an apparatus at school during PE, where I’d apparently told one of my classmates that I could fly and when he didn’t’ believe me, I thought I’d teach him a lesson in both listening and believing everything I said because I was superior. Turns out I couldn’t fly and was brandished a liar (probably) in the eyes of my infant school class. I think another lesson I could have probably learned here is not to lie to people and also that my parents shouldn’t have been so supportive of my creative mind or active imagination, because look what happened!

For Christmas, roughly twenty years ago, I received my very first PlayStation. I had no idea what it was. I can’t remember asking Santa Claus for it and I didn’t know what it did. Turns out that my dad knew how to work it just fine and I guess it was the ideal gift for a twenty four year old father of two, who knew?! I didn’t know how to play games such as Tomb Raider because I was six and it was scary, I mean there were WOLVES and a DINOSAUR, so my dad played on my behalf, which was really convenient and helpful. I mean, let’s forget the fact that the PlayStation turned out to be the greatest gift our family could have received, because we would all huddle around and watch my dad play games and just remember the fact that I didn’t ask for a PlayStation and also didn’t know how to play the PlayStation – that’s the most important part. Equally so, a few years later, I asked for an All Saints CD for Christmas and received a Dave Pearce remix thereof. There was only one person in our family who listened to Dave Pearce on Radio One after the chart show countdown on a Sunday and it certainly wasn’t me, my mam or my sister… the lesson that I’ve taken from these Christmas gifts is that you can’t always get what you want. In a lot of cases, you get what your dad wants and you just have to like it or lump it.

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Chapter One: My Glorious Birth

I once said that if I was ever going to write a biographical account of my life, that I would begin with the closing chapter, so that people would be left guessing, rubbing their chins and huddling in dark corners of libraries or book clubs, pouring over the first (last) chapter, wondering if I was a time traveller, or if I had a very specific car that required plutonium, then bits of rubbish and eventually, a train, to work. Mainly because my introductory chapter was going to entail a very specific account of how I died. It would be like that chapter and also scene in The Time Traveller’s Wife where he flashes into the present and he’s bleeding profusely, causing everyone to panic. But, to save this kind of undoubted social upheaval that would pour into the media and social networking networks like a fine, but dangerous wine and vilify me as some kind of monster for the rest of eternity (oops, another plot twist/spoiler: I’m immortal), I thought I’d change tact and start at the very beginning: My glorious birth.

But first, we’re going to need a little background, I didn’t just appear in my mother’s womb unexpectedly, that is nonsense and only believable if it happened in the olden days when apparently everyone fell pregnant at the hands of THE LORD, who was more than a little cavalier at his seed sowing back then, if you know what I mean… anyway, let’s continue:

When my parents first met, they were just a couple of crazy kids living in the midst of the only decade that everyone remembers with heart-warming nostalgia for unbeknownst reasons, given the neon colours, strange pants and terribly big and crunchy hairstyles: The 1980s. Now, I’ve only heard this story from my parents, who, you’ll learn throughout the course of this process are inherent liars, so this may not be entirely true; they may have lied to my sister and me all these years, forcing us to believe in the bittersweet concept of falling in love at first sight, which is apparently what they did. Apparently, my beloved dad was a little smitten with my mam from a distance for an indeterminate amount of time and it wasn’t until he happened upon her one morning as she was waiting for a bus, did he take his chance and bedazzle her with his 1980s moustache and his own car. Anyone who knows me, knows my undying passion for romance and love stories, so undoubtedly this story is my favourite: She was waiting for a bus and he happened upon her and decided to take his chance at love. Like, if John Hughes had been wandering through a tiny, sleepy village in the North East of England back then, he would have definitely cast Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy, or maybe even John Cusak to play my parents and it would have been a truly amazing piece of cinema, with an even better musical score (Side Note: For the rest of the post, I would be happy if you could hum Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds, perhaps the epitome of the 80s right there).

It’s not often that my parents talk about when they met, or really, life before my sister and I, but when they do, they seem to go misty eyed and they look at each other with looks that only two people who know the true meaning of love can look at each other. It would be sickening if it wasn’t so damned romantic and when I see the love they have for each other, I can’t help but thinking that I’ve been so unlucky in love in the past because of my sheer unwavering desire to fall in love at first sight (which, eventually happens to me, but you’ll have to wait a few chapters to get to that part. Or go and read the rest of my blog, whatever) and eventually, hopefully, marry someone I would also call my best friend, like they did. To me, it just makes the fact that I exist that bit more important, knowning that I was conceived in an environment where two people were so in love that about twenty seven years later, they still look at each other all funny when remembering how they fell in love. Aside from the knowledge that they had sex, of course, it’s good to know that I’ve been bred from two people besotted with each other, which not everyone can say, I guess.

I am told that other gloriously romantic and comedic things happened during the period of them meeting and me being born, which pads out the John Hughes movie plot slightly: My mam stubbed a cigarette out onto my dad’s hand and laughed hysterically right in his face as he nursed his injured hand. He lied about being allergic to dogs, to hide a presumably un-masculine fear of a tiny little girl boxer dog (which he would own for the rest of his life, which might just go to show where I get my enormous sense of hypocrisy from! And my ability to tell lies to get myself out of situations I don’t want to be in, too, I guess!) and there’s also a story about salted popcorn being propelled down the aisles of a cinema, shoulder shuddering giggles ensuing,w hcih would be another, very sweet comedic aside for the movie John Hughes would have directed. Maybe my mother (Molly Ringwald) would say something in a voice over akin to ‘From the moment that popcorn spilled down the steps of the cinema aisle, I knew I would marry either Andrew McCarthy or John Cusak, depending on casting, and we’d have two amazing children and a very happy life together… everything became clear then.’ End scene.

Anyway, back to the important part of the story, perhaps the main part of the opening chapter, considering that, without it, I’d not actually be here writing this at all, unless I went the route of the usual blogger and hired a ghost writer (oooh, I went there!), but even so, without the main event, I couldn’t hire a ghost writer, and now I’ve officially ‘Inception-ed’ myself.

I was born on Christmas Eve, which was a full eleven days before my due date and as a result, I have given my mam an amazing story to tell to everyone who mentions the fact that I was born on Christmas Eve. She grins, leans towards the person to whom the tale she is telling and states, “Yes, she was supposed to be born then, but she just needed to be here for Santa coming, didn’t you petal?!” and then she looks at me all proud, because as my mother, of course she is proud for having given birth to a human, but also because she’s proud for telling the joke like it was the first time, but also, I’m guessing, because she remembers it word for word every single time, which is actually a very applause worthy accomplishment, given her forgetfulness. Personally, I don’t mind that I was born on Christmas Eve, but other people absolutely hate it and offer me condolences and pitiful glances before telling me that it must be absolutely terrible to have been born then, because people will undoubtedly skimp on presents, given that it’s the time of giving and whatnot, which always seems a little odd to me… why would one skimp during this time? I’m not going to apologise for being born then if people aren’t going to apologise for their blatant cheapness on the day before Jesus’ birth… Bastards.

Obviously, I can’t remember anything about being born, which is probably just as well. I would feel deathly sorry for anyone who can actually remember being cast into the world via means of a vagina, screaming and crying only to me released into – depending on the birthing process, I guess – what I can only imagine being rivers upon rivers of blood and potential excrement… who the hell wants to remember that freakshow?! According to my dad, I was a really intelligent baby and general medical marvel from the moment I was eventually released from the womb and into the real world (absolutely no shit to be seen, I’m told!). Apparently, I didn’t cry at all, just looked around with wide eyed wonder (or, if I was aware of where I had just exited, absolute terror), and later on, when he was tapping my incubator with his finger, I followed his every single tap with my eyes… let’s face it, if that’s not a sign of a genius baby, then what is? I was also told that I was very long and skinny, which looking at me now seems like a genuine impossibility and I often think that I’m told I was long and skinny with a certain sense of scepticism, like my parents have active conversations behind my back, wondering if they brought the correct tiny human home with them, or if they’ve made a terrible mistake. Because, even though my limbs are pretty long, they are also significantly padded, hence their potential disbelief. But, I guess I look far too much like them for that to be a plausible explanation for having a fat twenty six year old child-woman, so that theory is a bit knackered. It’s still good to know that I was skinny once, though (and will be again! My poor, aching skeleton shouts).

In conclusion, this insightful, entirely truthful, if not slightly melodramatic for literary purposes, chapter on how I was born gives you a little taster of what you’re in for over the coming weeks, months, years, decades (depending on how long it takes you to read this), of what’s in store within my biographical process. It will be, hopefully, a good journey, as long as you remember this: You are literally reading the life story of a nobody… that’s what you’re doing right now. Think about that.

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Introduction: Confessions of a Twenty Something.

Writing about yourself is supposed to be a really difficult process, but because I am so inherently narcissistic, I found it quite easy. Also because I’m really smart.  It just goes to show that if you have a generally elevated sense of self-worth, you can accomplish pretty much anything and that it is, in fact, insecurity and a lack of faith in yourself that breeds misery and stunts any form of creative process and talents in the process… The Harlot!

In a far more realistic sense, it was actually pretty difficult and spending so much time planning pieces and not wanting to include things that would make family members disown me, it meant that I spent a long time pensively staring into the distance, wondering if I could feasibly lie throughout the whole biographical process and get away with it. Turns out that I can, which is very pleasing (not really). I had many working titles for this series of posts. One title, which I wrote about pretty much at the start of my blogging journey, when I decided that I would one day write a biographical piece that would sell millions and make me rich beyond my wildest nightmares would be: The History of Dildos: Confessions of a Wine Addict, because I thought it was a really great, historical play on words – like, some people would think that I would be discussing dildos at some point (which, let’s face it, is always a possibility) and others would think that ‘dildo’ is actually a metaphor for me as a person, which is far more correct and if you guessed that you’re probably really smart and/or went to university. I also thought about the title Be Mediocre! Because I was reading Hadley Freeman’s Be Awesome at the time and thought I was burgeoning on being a comedic genius. I finally settled on Mad About the Brain: My Journey from There to Here because it has multiple meanings (again, I’m really showing off my mad skills, here): Mostly I’m talking about the things that go on in my brain and how life has shaped me and made me the adult I am today, but, also, because my nickname for the love of my life, male human shape I adore, is Brain and it was conceived when I first met him following the little avatar he uses at work to chat to people and because, if you choose to read further (which you might not) there are certain life events that took place that, I feel, wouldn’t have made me as available, I guess, to fall in love with Brain as quickly as I did, so I guess there’s always that. I’m sickening, I know.

There will also be helpful tips and anecdotes throughout the series so that you can feel inspired by the inner workings of my mind and revere me as some kind of Geordie Goddess (move over, Cheryl!) it will, also, hopefully try to conclude in a manner that is far more successful than the current conclusion you’re reading (see, you didn’t even know, did you?) and maybe inform you all what I think that I’ve learned in my twenty six years on earth. If you’ve read my Series of Lamentations which was a half-hearted attempt before I got bored and decided to do this, then you’ll know what I’m hoping to achieve (and if you do please tell me, because I have no idea).

I hope you enjoy it, if you get through to the end, let me know and I’ll buy you a congratulatory beer. Thank you in advance. Doris xx

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