Tag Archives: happiness

My Life Soundtrack [Part One]

Everyone has that one particularly defining moment within their lifetime, when music suddenly begins to make sense. When it finally went beyond the point of listening to music, enjoying music and maybe dancing to music because everyone else was; at some point in everyone’s life, music truly begins to resonate and becomes more than just a song. And, as life progresses, they will reach more moments in life where a song can encapsulate a feeling, or a moment or become the defining shape of a memory. Music is one of life’s biggest passions, or at least it definitely is for me, which is why I’ve decided to share it on the blog today!

If you took a look at any of my Spotify playlists, or took a journey through the extensive collection my iPod has to offer, you’ll soon realise that my taste in music could potentially be described as eclectic. It can go from being something relatively cool, to something so uncool that it would make mental health professionals question my sanity. I’m unashamed of my music tastes, regardless, but do air caution as to when I play the stuff that I secretly love. If I’m home alone, the blinds remain closed and my earphones remain permanently in my ears and I spend the day listening to music of varying genre, so I can bounce around the flat, singing at the top of my voice, with no one witnessing my horrendousness but me (and maybe the neighbours who hear me sing). Sober me has a relatively awesome taste in music, but drunk me becomes a bit of a lunatic and eventually, at some point in any evening, I will hijack any playlist with the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack and scream along. That’s just who I am!

I’m not going to write a blog specifically about the songs that I like, because we could be on for hours and all that would do is show you how bloody ridiculous it is watching me make a playlist. These are the songs that I can pinpoint to a specific point in my history and remember why I love it so much; it can be triggered by a memory, an event, a feeling or even a person and then suddenly that song is all about those feelings. With the exception of a few songs, none of mine are inspired by people other than my best friends and times we’ve had together, but there are a few songs that remind me of Brain, which he amazingly thought to put into a soundtrack of his own by finding a bespoke company that creates custom made vinyl music – it took him a long time and a lot of effort and money, but on my birthday I received songs that encapsulated our entire relationship. On Valentine’s Day we listened to this vinyl whilst cooking and we kept laughing at the fact that we remembered the first time we heard each song and which specific memory we had in mind; they were all pretty much matching, which is pretty much the dorkiest thing you can imagine, but I also find it pretty important.

The Rolling Stones – Like a Rolling Stone

Long before my obsession with Bob Dylan began, an obsession with Mick Jagger began festering in my tiny mind. I can’t remember how old I was when I first heard this song, however, I do remember the exact moment I first heard it and when it became more. It was the early nineties and we’d only just had SKY TV installed, back when it wasn’t the extensive crap-fest of horrendously bad TV shows and adverts it is now. My parents listened to a lot of VH1 and I remember sitting in our living room one afternoon when the intro to the song began playing. It wasn’t an epiphany style moment that made me realise I love The Stones or anything, but it was a moment that I’m taken back to every time I hear the song. I think the fact that my parents both loved it at the time, too, makes a big difference.

Mike and the Mechanics – Looking Back, Over My Shoulder

This song is without a doubt the song of our family. When my sister and I were little, we would make up dances to everything that we liked and whenever my dad took this cassette out of the case and placed it in the cassette player, we would sing our little heads off and, very literally, look back over our shoulders whenever the chorus plays. It has been a firm favourite in every family playlist we’ve created and now, whenever we descend upon my parents house for the evening, my dad puts this on for us all to sing along to.

Bob Dylan – I Want You

I knew who Dylan was before I’d really listened to his music, but this was during a time where I was desperately obsessed with Andy Warhol, his factory and his super star, Edie Sedgwick. I was besotted with this entire decade and the fashion of the 1960s to the point where I would wear shapeless dresses with contrasting peter pan collars and wore nothing but dramatic black eye make up with flicks and a perpetual red pout. I began buying Edie Sedgwick inspired, enormous chandelier earrings and contemplated cutting my hair off and dying it blonde. Not much has really changed, because every time I see her beautiful little face, I want do to it all over again. As a result, I was looking online and happened upon an article that coincided with a piece I read about Edie and Bob Dylan being together at some point in the sixties. This article suggested that Dylan wrote Blonde on Blonde about Edie, so I decided to download it and see if it was true. This song in particular is supposed to capture the moment when Dylan met Warhol and I became obsessed with it. I’m a total sucker for gossip, but I’m an even bigger sucker for songs about people and to this day, every time I think about it, I remember sitting in my bedroom wearing ridiculously enormous chandelier earrings, red pout pursed and heavily eyeliner’d eyes squinting, trying to decipher Dylan’s poetry. Not much has changed, except the earrings, except now it means so much more because Brain is obsessed with him too. One of the first things my parents said about him was to express their surprise that he liked Dylan too. My mam said, WHAT? You’ve got to be kidding! But you LOVE Dylan! 

The Weepies – World Spins Madly On

This song is potentially one of my favourite songs of all time and whilst I can’t remember, really, what made me love it so much, I do remember that when I was going through a really tough time, I would listen to this song and I’d feel a sense of clarity that other songs didn’t make me feel. I guess because, in spite of the lyrics, the music and the singing is beautiful and relatively uplifting. Either way, it’s still one of my favourite songs, except again, the meaning has changed.

A Fine Frenzy – Ashes and Wine

For a very long time, I wanted to learn the piano and write songs, not necessarily to sing to people, but just because I liked the idea of being a musician. I had loads of friends who did exactly the same thing, so they were inspirational to me. Turns out, I didn’t really have the patience to learn the piano and I’m rubbish at writing songs, so that fell through. I had red hair at the time and was pretty obsessed with looking up pictures of women with red hair for style inspiration and this is how I found A Fine Frenzy. At the time, I was going through a really shitty time. I was in a ridiculously toxic relationship that made me miserable on a daily basis, but wasn’t brave enough to end things, because at this point in time, I wasn’t really smart enough to realise that my self-worth meant more than a relationship (turns out it would take me another four years to realise this permanently!) it’s such a silly thing to say, but this song made me wish that I was in a situation like this; it made me wish that I was so in love with someone that if someone didn’t love me anymore, that I would love them so much that I would want to fight for the relationship. Sounds a little fucked up, but I guess because I was in such a horrendous place, relationship wise, I guess I wanted more. Passion, maybe. Or even just to be loved, I guess? I’m not sure, but this song reminds me of wanting to be in love and wanting to feel passionate about someone other than Mick Jagger, maybe!

Michelle Branch – Everywhere

This song reminds me of being a teenager and spending endless amounts of time downloading music and making CDs for me to take into my bedroom and listen to on repeat. I think throughout my teenage years, I’d make a new CD every single day, because my music tastes would change so rapidly. I remember I went through a stage where I only wanted to listen to music written and performed by women and decided to look up a lot of new artists that I’d never heard of and whilst I discovered the likes of Sleater Kinney and other riot girl bands, I also discovered this song and whilst I’ve never heard anything else she’s written, I fell for this song immediately and would bounce around my room, singing at the top of my voice, presumably hoping I would be discovered by a music exec just wandering through the countryside one day. Ha.

Liz Phair – Why Can’t I?

This was also discovered during my obsession with female artists, but also because of the 13 Going on 30 soundtrack, a film I was obsessed with when I was a kid. I also put this song on one of the millions of CDs I made and I remember whenever I listened to it, I would make up these really ridiculously dramatic concepts of me falling in love with someone. As you can probably tell by now, a lot of my music tastes evolved due to my sheer adoration for romance. I am a total and utter cliché, and I fucking love it.

The Distillers – Young, Crazed Peeling

My obsession with Brody Dalle begun when I first saw this video during my early years watching PRock, because my mother didn’t want us watching any of the mainstream channels like MTV because, as she said, it was full of misogynist rhetoric that would encourage us to feel like we needed to take our clothes off and loosen our morals in order to get a man, which is something we should NEVER do. But punk music that encouraged us to become raging feminists was something she was fully supportive of. My obsession with Brody developed to the point where my entire bedroom wall was covered in pictures of her. One time my mam asked me if I still fancied boys and I’m assuming she was wishing that I would maybe take my clothes off and loosen my morals to ascertain my heterosexuality, but those are things she’d never say…

Okay, well, I’m bored now so I’ve decided to stop. I might post more, which is why I’ve called it Part One. Maybe I should have structured it better and included the genre surfing I’ve done over the years, but then again, maybe I will just do what I want and you’ll enjoy it, because I tell you too. Have a good day!

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Happy Birthday, Doris Daze!

This time last year, I spent an inordinate amount of time alone; I would wake up alone, lie and stare blankly at the ceiling, wondering how many hours I would have to be awake before I could get hammered. If it was longer than ‘a few’, I would roll over and go back to sleep. During the week, I didn’t see a soul and the monotony of waking up and waiting to get drunk so I could feel something was my routine. My sister would come and see me and not see anything wrong with me, so would retreat back into her brand new relationship, telling my parents they were being paranoid for suggesting that I was depressed. I wasn’t depressed, though… I didn’t really feel anything in order to feel depressed.

From the space between September 2013 and May 2014, I saw my best friend once, a friend I had never met once and my other best friend twice. Other than that, I spent it alone. I hung out with my sister maybe four times. On a Friday, my dad would insist on picking me up and buying me wine so that I would spend the weekend with him and my mam. Neither of them liked the idea of me being alone, because they were frightened of what I would do. I would then spend the weekend staring blankly into space, locking myself in the spare bedroom or crying. I appreciated the effort my parents went to and I would sometimes put on my game face and pretend I was okay for their benefit, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t at all.

I was living in a house that was too big and too expensive to heat, so I didn’t heat it and wore blankets, trying to keep the winter chill from getting to me. Sometimes, I could see my breath when I lay in bed, it was that cold. It was a house where electricity was too expensive to light, so I didn’t light it and kept all of my energy for my laptop, so I could use Facebook and chat to my mam and my friend Sarah online. I had no job, I had no money and every day I received threatening letters about pay-day loans and other things that my ex had signed up for in my name – he had committed fraud, but I was being left to sort them out myself. My bank balance read £0.45 and I wasn’t eligible for any form of governmental help, so I had to rely on graciously accepting familial donations of £10 here and £20 there… I ate one meal per day, unless it was a special occasion (like, my sister came to visit, or my dad took me shopping) and that usually consisted of lettuce or cucumber, bread and the occasional tin of mackerel. I also used a lot of that money to buy wine, so that my nights weren’t spent cold and lonely, terrified of sleeping, of my environment, living in constant fear that my landlord was going to break in and be horrible to me. I hated my life; I hated waking up and feeling the way that I did, so I used a lot of the money that my family donated in good will, to getting wasted and self-harming so that it didn’t hurt as much anymore.

Then, one day, I decided to start a blog. I was at my parents’ house, as it was my dad’s birthday the following day and I was staying in my sister’s bedroom as she wasn’t home. I used her PC to play Skyrim on, which was my perpetual comfort blanket, when suddenly, for the first time in a long time, I decided I wanted to write. My family, particularly my beloved grandma, were panicking about Valentine’s Day, given that it was my first one as a single lady in a long time, but, as I told her, I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day – I’d made the effort over the years, because I felt that it was right to do, but even to this day, I’ve only received two Valentine’s Day presents and they were both off my sister; An Audrey Hepburn print and a vintage-style champagne flute with some pug socks. So Valentine’s Day doesn’t really represent ‘love’ in my opinion. Then again, nothing I had experienced, really represented ‘love’. Convenience, maybe. Sex, maybe. But, love? No way… anyway, my first post was about Valentine’s Day. It was an entirely creative piece, but it was funny, I thought and that’s what I decided I wanted to do: I wanted to make myself laugh. I wanted to use life experiences to pull myself out of the perpetual slump I was in, because I wanted to move on. I didn’t want to be sad any more. And that’s how Doris Daze was born.

The happiness that I’ve been able to feel through writing this blog knows no bounds; it has been my constant, amazing best friend for a whole year now, and continues to be something I love to be a part of. Blogging helped bring me back to life again and allowed me to discover who I really am. Through this blog, I have managed to communicate with some amazing people, including some of the best friends in the world: Mungle, Sian, Emilie, Rachel, Amy, Marie, Leona and Becky. I rediscovered friendship and what it feels like to be loved and appreciated by people I get to call friends. I haven’t been a part of their lives much recently and I realise how much I miss them all; they are my lady humans and when I met them and began using social media to chat to them hundreds of times a day, waking up didn’t seem as bad anymore, because they were there to laugh and to play with. They were my company and slowly made the sting of loneliness disappear. Through these girls, particularly through Emilie, I rediscovered feminism and I embraced the movement like an old friend, which in turn helped me become newly self-assured, confident and respectful of myself. I began to write cathartically about bad things that happened to me and used feminist ideals to progressively feel better about those bad things so that they weren’t making me cry any more. I became an overall healthier person, intent on living life for ME and not for anyone else. I owe all of that to the opportunities that blogging has given me.

Moreover, and perhaps the most important gift my blog has given me, is the fact that it was Doris Daze that brought Brain and I together. Initially, I’d made an active decision that I would never be in a relationship again, that I would never allow another person to diminish my character and make me ashamed of who I was; I didn’t need a relationship and I didn’t want one – I didn’t believe in what people could do to you and the power they could exert over you when you were in a relationship. They were dangerous, I thought, and the words my ex and his mother had imprinted on my consciousness was that I didn’t deserve happiness. That I wasn’t good enough. So, it genuinely upset me that I was smitten with Brain from the moment I was introduced to him (Bob Dylan t-shirt, blue eyes and a beard? I mean, come on, I didn’t stand a chance) and we became friends. We became best friends, actually, on our first day of meeting and it only got better – those days where I was getting to know him will forever be etched into my memories as the best time ever – I’d made friends with the male version of myself and it was awesome. Brain was also the first person I actively gave my blog link to; it was the closest and most personal thing that I could share with someone and before then, I’d never felt secure enough to do so. It made me feel vulnerable, but for some reason I also felt like he was the only person I could trust with something as special as this. I have the link to him one Friday afternoon and by Monday he had read it in its entirety, from beginning to end, just like that. His reaction was, you should show more people, I think it will make them like you more. And that’s when I knew that Brain would remain the most important person in my life for as long as I could possibly try to do so; he didn’t see the bad things that happened to me as a black mark on my character and he didn’t besmirch me as some kind of terrible human who was to blame for all of the things that happened to her; he liked me more. Which means more to me than he could ever possibly know… well until now, because he still reads my blog 🙂 hiya!

I couldn’t be more grateful of the people who have taken time out to read my blog, because it means everything to me. Without my blog, I really don’t think I’d be in the position I am now. I’d probably be living at my parents, hooked on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, living in a perpetual state of unhappiness and regret. Instead, I am head over heels in love with the most amazingly sweet and genuinely best human I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and, better than that, I feel that I deserve the love he has to offer me. We live in an amazing little flat, overlooking the water, filled with belongings and paintings and posters that encapsulate our personalities (which are basically mirrored in one another) and our relationship… everything is so important because everything here I have experienced with him. I feel so safe, content and I feel happier than I have ever felt in my life and, more importantly, I feel that I am deserving of all of these nice things. I’ve genuinely forgotten what it feels like to be truly sad and when reading back through my old blogs, I really don’t know why I allowed myself to be so manipulated or so abused, or so sad as I felt about someone who was never worthy of my time.

It’s funny what blogging can do for people, but I’m really glad that my blog helped me discover who I really am. Thank you, all of you, who’ve taken time to read my blog over the past year… Here’s to you all. And here’s to you Doris Daze, happy birthday, my love.

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A Series of Lamentations: Body Confidence

In a society obsessed and unable to take the attention and (male) gaze away from women’s appearance, whether it be their body shape, clothes, hair styles, make up, legs, arms, body hair, fingernails, cuticles, pores, inner thighs, vaginas, phantom limbs… you name it, we’ve been scrutinised on it, so I thought this episode of A Series of Lamentations (said dramatically like I’m narrating Days of Our Lives) should cover the topic of body confidence. It’s something I’ve never written about, but write about sexual confidence freely and confidently. For me, the two are synonymous, but for so many women, the idea of being sexy is nonsensical; you can only be sexy if you look like the girls in the lad’s mags, right? Wrong… So very, very wrong, ladies!

As soon as I was catapulted out of the warm embrace of childhood and puberty rolled in like a thick, black cloud, catapulting my idea of self into a state of perpetual doubt, my beanpole limbs suddenly bending and stretching, pimples exploding onto my face like a surprise hailstorm in summer, I would cry and for years, enormous, fat tears would roll down my cheeks and sobs would escape my mouth as I looked on in horror at my naked self in front of a mirror. In spite of being born gloriously tall, I had a perpetual hunch in my shoulders, forced as a result of trying valiantly to appear small, petite and perfect like all of my friends were. I would take one of my long, bony (elegant, maybe?) fingers and prod at the almost non-existent pot belly that I had and wail that I was enormous, cursing my hips and size fourteen jeans that hung off my hips and perpetually retreated down my legs, as though wanting to rest around my ankles, a non-existent arse unable to keep them upright. My breasts, a reasonable D cup from the moment I hit puberty and further growing to the exponentially larger cupsize they are today, were far too small, too strange, too saggy and unappealing. I didn’t look like the girls in the films, or the magazines or the music videos; I wasn’t, as my mother described perfect and she was a proven god damn liar, if only she knew what I saw when I looked in that mirror…

As I got older, my metabolism abandoned me and all those nights I would order takeaways or eat convenient packets of party size crisps, huddled over a laptop writing essays, my body shape changed; it became softer, more round, my hip bones lost their definition altogether, replaced by rolls of extra skin that stretched violently, erupting in marks that highlighted my new body shape with sickening candour; my dress size soared through the roof and I looked at my jeans mournfully, longing to be able to get those size fourteen skinnies beyond my fat knees. Elasticated waistlines and baggy, loose fitting dresses became my staples. Jeggings were my saviour. When I went out, I wore black, thick tights, multiple pairs of spanx, anything that would slim me and make me look like the other girls in their crop tops, bare arms flung in the air, moving to the sound of the music; mine, shoved inside a cardigan, sleeves pulled over my sleeves, shuffling from side to side, hating them, hating me.

I fought with my body for so long, I became resolute that I was too fat, too unattractive, too boring to be anything other than the person that I was; I hated myself and it was a recurrent, constant theme in my life. I struggled with my body confidence until this year, twenty five years into my life. But it took me a while. When I first became single, my dad, bless him would say things like ‘lose a few stone, get your high heels on and go down to the rugby club and bag yourself someone who can throw you round the bedroom, even if you’re still a bit heavy!’ thinking that I would laugh and agree, which of course I did, he meant well and thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world even with an extra three stone strapped to my body, but it didn’t make me feel great. I didn’t want to be the person who people would look at for her body and then decide whether or not to have sex with me; I wanted someone to engage with me on an intellectual level, someone who would drink wine with me and stay up until the early hours of the morning talking about a stupid piece of music we both obsess over. I wanted someone to wrap their arms around my stomach and not be revolted that I don’t feel like a model, or someone who goes to the gym. I didn’t want to be someone who relied on their appearance to feel beautiful, I wanted to feel beautiful inside and out and be with someone who agreed.

I don’t feel too self conscious anymore; I have my moments and I sometimes ask my boyfriend to close his eyes if I’m leaving the room naked or with my stomach on display. For months I didn’t let his hands wander anywhere near my stomach and now his hands will wander and touch the ridges of my stretch marks; nonplussed that i was once a significantly larger human. I guess it’s a bit ass-backwards to say that Brain gave me body confidence, because he didn’t. I think it was the moment that I realised he liked me and I wasn’t a stick thin model I thought hmm, so to be attractive, I don’t have to be wearing matching underwear or look like an on-screen siren? I can just look like me? Okay… and I guess he helped, but to me that isn’t really the problem; if you have someone who helps you feel body confident that’s so great. But what about if you don’t?

When you’re single and reading articles on how to be great in bed or how to dress to impress, there’s the overwhelming, choking feeling of expectation and I think that’s what prompts so many fits of self-doubt and loathing within female society and if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I feel so unconfident in my appearance!’ then nothing I say will make you feel any better, it’s one of those things that creeps up on you like old age, or ill-fitting underwear; it’ll happen one day and you’ll just feel and act differently to the way you did before. When I realised that I was funny, smart and that my words had prompted someone to fall in love with me, I realised that no one actually gave a fuck about my stomach or the fact that I have a severe aversion to running or sit ups but me. I stopped caring what other people thought of me and started focusing on what I like about me. So what do I like about me? I like everything. I like my hair, I like my overly large eyes, I like my teeth that look like pegs and my nose that is slightly upturned at the bottom so that it looks like, as my dad lovingly describes, a ski jump. I like my sticky out ears and my hair that has no style other than the fact that I own it and no one else does. I like my breasts and my legs and my flat, long feet. I like everything about me and that’s something I never thought I’d feel. I stopped giving a shit about what society deemed sexually attractive or acceptable and I just embraced myself for being exactly who I am.

Now, thinking back to how unconfident I was, I feel sad that I spent so many years restricting myself and not doing things out of fear of being the fat one, that people would realise that I was fat… as though people didn’t already know… I wish I’d gone with my friends to Greece and finished my application for Camp America and went to New York to study when given the opportunity, but didn’t because I thought my appearance wouldn’t win me any friends. I regret that, I’m sorry about that and I lament it, as expected.

moi

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