The Only (Riot) Grrrl In The World

robyn2Ever notice how the best songs are the heartbreak anthems? Sometimes not even anthems, some are weepy little poems that still have the power to cut you like a switch blade (hey there Joni).

Even though I hung up my angst a long time ago (does one ever?) and am not currently nursing a sore heart, I still love the fist pumping, imagine myself standing on tables, shouting at all the pigs that ever let me down psalms the best.

As I shuffle reluctantly to work every morning, my iPod bruising my ear canal ever so slightly, I always have to make the final push with a great song in my head, that extra protection against the day ahead.

Now I write all this with the best of intentions but my musical catalog contains an awful lot of Janet Jackson so it’s usually something like What Have You Done For Me Lately? off Control that gets me fighting.

JJ notwithstanding, it’s funny how some lyrics just jump out and elbow you in the ribs, isn’t it? They have the ability to drag you back through time to the exact moment you found yourself standing hesitantly outside a coffee shop after a blazing row with a boy you’d only been seeing for a few Summer months.

You remember your carefully chosen words, and how carelessly he batted them away like fruit flies. You remember how black his eyes became in rage, the chocolate-brown evaporating from them completely, making him look demonic. How you had known right there that this was it, that no matter how lovely his skin felt or how pumped you were that he chose to spent these hazy twilight hours walking around the city with you, it was done.

You recall the tears that you thought would never end, your best friend’s hand on your back and the thought, even in that moment, that you were crying not for this, but for everything bad that had ever happened to every person in the world.

Most of all you remember that it was over because you decided it was; that you weren’t going to take shit any more.

That’s what a heart-break tune will do and it doesn’t matter if you’ve moved on, if you’re happy now. It doesn’t matter if you rarely think of them; those fuckers built you up to be the fabulous person you are today and tribute must be paid, even if it’s angry.

Especially if it’s angry.

So what’s my go to angry anthem? You’ll not be surprised to learn there’s some utter toot in here: Since You’ve Been Gone, Blow Me (One Last Kiss), Dancing On My Own, Raspberry Swirl. Sinead O’Connor’s You Cause As Much Sorrow. Mr Brightside. Harpoon.

Army of Me.

All my loves.

Special mention to Joni’s Case of You which saw me through a wonderful break up (I loved it). Less punch facey sure but just as powerful. (I’m listened to Joni as I tie up the ribbon on this post with a flourish, because she’s the one).

It is true that every girl has a fighter inside, a riot grrrl or a punk, whoever she wants it to be. She may be a soft touch like me, most of the time, but given the right theme tune, that fighter will awaken to stomp the shit out of her memories, free to fight another day.

So what’s your angsty/angry/fighter theme?

Uncle Robin 1951 – 2014

Robin-Williams-robin-williams-32089824-2798-3916Yesterday most of the world woke up to the news that Robin Williams had passed away.

I was in a decidedly un-glamorous place as I scrolled through Facebook and found out for myself (embarrassing source of all my news). My subsequent scream from the bathroom caused Mr Bee to get very annoyed when he realised I hadn’t just been injured or attacked.

It is always strange when a beloved celebrity passes away. This year we have already been rocked by the passing of another favourite, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and in similarly shocking circumstances (all still alleged). Hoffman from a heroin overdose in his own bathroom and now Williams, who is believed to have taken his own life.

It’s just so very sad. I guess when you think about death at a not even that old age, you hope for something quick and painless. Tragic, of course but natural. To consider the ongoing suffering of somebody famous for making others feel better is a bitter punchline in itself.

This morning as I was stomping around the park thinking about this subject and of what Robin meant to me, I got to thinking about the joke Rorschach tells in Watchmen:

I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

Moral of the story: you never know.

Now, I don’t feel qualified to comment on what sort of torment must lead a person to such a hopeless place. I don’t think it’s the cowards way out though.

I know a few things about mental illness and depression, I know a bit about addiction but all my experience is second hand. I know it’s serious and that we should be able to talk about it openly, without judgment and help should be readily available. It goes further than that though and I understand this.

I just feel incredibly sad. I feel as though the world will genuinely have an empty hole in it now. Robin always felt like an uncle to me and when we spoke about him, Mr Bee and I called him ‘Uncle Robin’.

Had he been my real uncle (and I do love my actual uncles), I imagine Robin would have been able to fix anything with a hairy armed bear hug. Nothing could be bad within that embrace and nothing would ever light up the room like that smile. That laugh.

Now this is my fantasy, of an uncle I’ll never have but I’m sure his own children felt that way about him. I’m sure his friends, his wife, all his loved ones felt that way too. I hope he’s at peace now.

Rest easy, Peter Pan.

So This Is Thirty

tumblr_m7ytgwn0Lk1qz9qooo1_1280

Chewing over turning 30

Hello!

My post has been published on the very cool blog, My Thirty Spot this morning. If you fancy having a little look, I talk about my experience of turning 30 over here.

Believe me, it was kind of a big deal.

Also, thanks to Hannah as I totally pilfered the idea from her and her post, A Letter to My 20 Year Old Self.

Imitation is still the highest form of flattery, yes?

Let’s Talk About Sex

tumblr_n9jfteUptt1rrfi42o1_500

Tip toeing into womanhood

Write about your first sexual experience (via Writing Exercises)

My first sexual encounter wasn’t all that but, as is often the way, I have been left with a great story to add to my box of memories which sees itself rolled out when the vodka is flowing and the tone has been lowered.

Something you might not know about me: I love talking about sex.

People can be very prissy about it but it’s only natural, right? I don’t think I’m a lewd girl without class but I enjoy penis talk and a girthy range of other saucy topics. So sue me.

Like Salt n’ Pepa once said “Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be. How it was, and of course, how it should be” (Let’s Talk About Sex, 1991)

I was a late bloomer. Not for political reasons. I was just terrified of the idea of ‘doing it’ and the male form, and crippled by my own inadequacies as a ‘woman’. My classmates were happily sowing their oats and taking the piss out of all of us Virgins, pondering whether we might actually be ‘lezzas’ and making us all terrified to even glance in the general direction of someone of the same sex.

For about twenty minutes I sat and thought about whether I actually might be into girls but I figured in the end that my fascination with the more exotic of my species was down to the comfort in which they strode about in their own skin. I liked boys anyway and wanted one for myself, if I could only muster the courage to touch one.

I was eighteen when I finally got to the stage where I thought I could shrug off the taboo of still being chaste. By then my friend Lucy and I were going up to London every weekend and going to clubs, being bad girls. We met some boys (I say boys but my boy was 24) and started to spend time with them, sometimes sharing their spare room if we missed the last train home, which we always did.

Through these boys I met Marvin. He was quite the alluring prospect with his tight dreadlocks and beautiful dark skin. I wasn’t all that romantically inclined but he liked me, smelt nice and hey, if it all went wrong I didn’t have to see him again. Tactics, my friends even at that young age.

We arranged to meet and by chance, Lucy had also lined up a date for the night, so we booked into a B&B in South London. We went for drinks then went our separate ways, Lucy to the boudoir with the boy she’d met in the Wimpy, me with Marvellous Marvin.

I lied about my experience, scoffing convincingly when questioned about whether I had had sex before. This perhaps worked against me in the end, since he took no prisoners if you know what I mean.

When the deed was done (hours later), he got up, told me he had to go back to his girlfriend and asked me for cab fare. With a smile that may or may not have contained a gold tooth, he was gone.

I wasn’t even mad. He’d served his purpose and when he asked to see me two weekends later, I ignored the message. All I really remember now of that event is the morning after, walking to the tube with an ache where you’d expect an ache to be after being thrown around all night like a rag doll. It felt like adulthood.

I didn’t have it off again until two years later, and that time I got my little heart shattered.

But that’s another story.

Memoir Madness

floral-pattern-piano-typewriter-vintage-writing-machine-favim_com-79331

Prompt via Weekly Writing Challenges (4th August 2014)

In this week’s writing challenge, mine your memory and write a memoir.

It is some time in May, maybe later, maybe earlier. I never remember dates. I find myself barefoot in Paradise and, though the sun feels like kitten kisses on my lids, I would give anything to be elsewhere.

I shield my eyes from the scorching sun and wonder not for the first time, or the last if I need more sunblock. If I am honest with myself, which I am trying not to be, I’m an Autumn Girl and beaches aren’t my thing. In fact, sand gets everywhere and there’s not much to do. Drink, basically and play pool while Bob Marley serenades.

Again, if I allow myself to stop and think about it, all his songs about love are just cruel. It will never be me.

I’m here with someone. Someone who scares me for reasons I can’t explain. I would rather be anywhere else with anybody else but I am weary. What if he is right and nobody else will ever want me? Is that even a bad thing? Love is obviously not for me and I was a fool to wish for it.

Take me back to heartbreak and desperation. Take me back to my bedroom floor, the one on which I lay crumpled, crying until I hiccuped. Crying until I had surely used up my lifetime’s quota.

He’s somewhere around but on these heady hot days I try to be where there are people. In a group I can just about handle this. It’s when he tries to touch me that I feel my facade slip. I can’t deal with the truth though because the truth hurts people and demands answers. I don’t have answers and so I’m going to keep on swimming.

I’m at the shop and I see him again. The man from the hill. I see him sometimes and he’s got his dogs with him. They look at me with rheumy eyes while I look at him. He’s tall and thin and looks just like a man who lives on a hill. His name is Mr Ood and he’s legendary, so they say.

I buy my juice and some food for his dogs while I’m there, why not? He’s thankful, even though he doesn’t speak my language. Or maybe he speaks it perfectly.

We go our seperate ways. Later he sends a message down via a village boy. He says he will tattoo me for free because his dogs like me. He’s legendary because he is an artist and was famous once on the Khao San Road.

The man I am with tells me I am stupid to even consider the gift. It’s dangerous and foolish, he says. It might be, I think but then I think, to myself, FUCK YOU. That’s how I find myself on the winding path, walking towards the hill.

When I arrive, I see that the village boy has a giant Koi on his shoulder; beautiful and intricate, almost jumping off his golden skin. “I’ll have that” I tell Mr Ood and I swear he winks.

The pain and all the discomfort than follows is worth it. The big FUCK YOU is so worth it. I will always have this on my skin as a reminder that even when I am down, even when I have no idea what to do, you can’t stop me. You can’t tell me what to do.

Even though I am already tattooed in discreet places, this is the most impulsive thing I have ever done to my body and it feels like nothing I have ever felt before. I don’t know this now, at this time, but I will look back one day and realise, this is where I started to fight back.

Later on, my back to him in bed, as it always is, he says it’s like I am somebody else.

How I wish, I think, as I shut my eyes, happy to feel something for the first time in months. Even if it is only defiance.

To Thine Own #Selfie Be True

IMG_20140729_120428

Here’s one I took earlier

What is it about the cult of the #selfie? It has to be one of the most interesting and baffling things to come out of the 21st century and specifically off the back of this cray social networking phenomenon.

I am the worst culprit there is, posting several a week. I am sure my friends are sick to death of my stupid face.

I can’t tell you why other people do it but I suppose I can try to explain why I do. Why I can’t go into the bathroom at work on a school day and not take a picture of the nice outfit I’ve chosen to wear.

For me, it’s not because I think I am the bomb. I do not think my latest #selfie should appear underneath the definition of sexy in the Oxford English Dictionary (I’d be at least 100th in line).

I am not the most confident in my looks as a rule. Sure, who is? But I have been horrified in the past by pictures of me caught unawares at weddings and parties. Horrified. So I think part of the #selfie thing is about control. I can delete, delete, delete at will and chose my best angles, my favourite environments, lighting, etc. Horribly vain, isn’t it?

It’s only just now that I have allowed people to capture me au natural in the wild and tag me on Facebook which is why there are pictures of me now that I haven’t taken. *gasp*

I want to record what I currently look like, how I looked before I found exercise, how my body has changed since I started fueling it with better things.

I feel a lot better these days (20lbs down and counting) but I think it’s confidence that has made me look better. For me confidence comes with weight loss, I wish it didn’t. I’m also coming to terms with the fact that even Angelina Jolie takes a bad picture every once in a while†.

As for the #ootd toilet mirror snaps? Sometimes a girl just wants to show off a cute dress. Where’s the harm in that?

So there it is: for me it’s about #control, #cutedresses and #recording #change. Maybe I’ll cut down. Maybe I’ll get worst, who knows?

Incidentally, the other day when encouraging my nine year old step son to get in shot for a family #selfie, he shouted “Nooooo! I don’t want to be a hashtag selfie on Facebook!” and ran away. Sign of these modern times?

Where do you stand on the #selfie? Are you a fan or do you abhor them? I would love to know!

†Yeah right!

Obit

tumblr_mmuoqgvfoy1qzb2hmo1_1280

Write your obituary (via Writing Exercises)

God, this will be a challenge. I was going to say it’s a bit macabre to think of now but actually, should we be looking at death in such a negative way? There’s a beautiful simplicity to the fact that we’ll all face it one day and, of course, I don’t want to dwell on it for too long but I don’t think we should be afraid. So I’m going to attempt this with some relish.

When I go, to be fair, it won’t matter what anybody says; I won’t know.

One person could turn up to say goodbye and that might just be the person leading the ceremony. There might not be a ceremony at all. I might be fed to the neighbourhood strays in bite size chunks. If the World ends before I’m ready to go, we’ll all be in it together. Here goes:

Sad news comes in today of the passing of Christa Bass. Mrs Bass, of Austrian descent, was a well loved daughter, sister and wife, best known for her clumsiness and ability to make a mountain out of a molehill.

A mediocre writer, Bass spent an awful lot of time talking about writing when she should just have written but did enjoy minor celebrity when she had published a slim tome of tongue-in-cheek life advice.

Bass was quite nice, sometimes funny and without question one of the best tea makers of her generation. She was also good with little paintings in nail enamel and quite eloquent in small groups.

She is survived by her handsome husband who has full permission to remarry as long as the new wife reads, her step son, three cats and a dog named The Hound. Yes, she finally got the be the pet owner she was born to be.

She will be missed. Quite a bit, actually.

Here’s hoping, eh?*

*That I get to have pets.

Is this a depressing topic or do you think we should all be better at talking about these things? What will people say about you do you think?

On Bees and Efs

A decade ago this would have been a picture of Carrie & co

A decade ago this would have been a picture of Carrie & co

Prompt via The Daily Post (25th July 2014)

Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

This is almost a little too close to home as a topic but fuck it, I say. Why not tackle it anyway?

It’s actually a question I think about a lot and the answer is, I just don’t know. I think not. I mean, do I favour one of my friends over another? Not really. I get different things from different people and they are so different, you can’t really choose. It’s like having to make a choice between poppadums or chocolate and that’s just impossible and cray.

I do have special people who make me feel whole, of course I do but being someone’s one and only Best Friend has felt cloying and insincere in the past. Moreover, I’ve felt like a possession.

I had a Best Friend once. For many years it was all about one girl.

I’m not talking about my high school Best Friend (whom I loved and am still in touch with). I’m talking live together, rites of passage; would have walked on broken glass for Best Friend. She was The One and we went through everything arm in arm.

Leaving our small hometown for the bright lights of the city, broken hearts (hers and mine), jobs, boys, girls, mouldy bathrooms, gay clubs, that time I got hit round the head by a drag queen – we did it all. I moved away, came back, left the country, one of her girlfriends snogged Amy Winehouse – we had our adventures apart, sure but always found our way back together.

Things changed.

I’m not going to use this post to get all vitriolic. Frankly, I did all that long ago. I mourned the end of our friendship more than I have mourned any relationship break up. I loved her, I really did. But people aren’t always the people you think they are, or you change and they don’t.

Oh go on then!

Oh go on then!

Sometimes they’re the ones who change. I can only accept that our time had run out and it was no longer healthy. My Best Friend let me down so spectacularly when I needed her most that I knew for sure that all the love for me she had ever spoken of was a lie. Maybe not a lie but in the end, what does it even matter?

For me the whole experience of being somebody’s Best Friend was to be wheeled out to suit the occasion and encouraged to perform comedy routines. To be possessed like an object. To be told who not to speak to according to how she perceived she’d been wronged. It gets hard to watch someone you love hurt other people you love; harder when the cycle just keeps repeating itself.

But I’m sure her breaking up with me story pushes all the blame my way.

There are too many fantastic stories about her, I don’t know if I could choose. I miss her still, sometimes, when certain things happen. She’s happy now though and god, so am I, so there you go.

I will never go back.

As for how I feel about BFFs now, I’m lucky enough to consider the handful of people I know are there for me come what way, all my Best Friends.

My Person, David. Beautiful Panda. Mix, who inspires me creatively whenever I see her. Ms. Lightle. Lovely hilariously blunt Lauren. Blogging Bestie Ems. My work husband, DBo.

Baby Dee. B.

I’m very lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life and I love every one of them.

As for ultimate favourite friend of all time, maybe it is sad that I have loved and lost in this respect but I think all it tells me is that I need to be my own Bestie.

I’m my OBF.

Adult Visions

Prompt via The Daily Post (23rd July 2014)

As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?little girl shoes

I always thought that when I finally became an adult, I would feel like one. That hasn’t happened yet.

Perhaps it’s because I don’t own my own house or have a ‘proper’ job. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have children or a car. I don’t know. All I know is that it hasn’t hit me yet.

When I was a kid I don’t know what I expected from life. I was a live in the moment girl (I think). I loved music and dressing up but I didn’t dream of white weddings and horses like many of my peers. I suppose I assumed it would just happen and I would do all the things people were ‘supposed’ to do when the time came.

I have done some of it but most of my decisions in life have not been very sensible. I guess I equate adulthood with being sensible then. Although, I’m casting my mind back and growing up the only adults I really spent time around were my Mum and her cousin, Aunty Sine.

Both these women were my ultimate heroes, even though Mum was terribly uncool at times (guys she’s my Mum, of course she was!). I think I looked to them as such because neither of them needed a man to get through. Their situations were very different but they seemed so Can Do and found strength in each other. I think maybe I found strength in their strength (plus apart from them, I was surrounded by smelly boys and Star Wars toys, so had little choice).

Later on, I did turn to men for the things I thought I needed – but give a girl a break, at least I learnt eventually that’s just a crock of sh*t. Ultimately, the only hero you need to save you, is you. *VOM!*

Despite these two ladies dragging us up by the scruffs of our necks, all by themselves, I wouldn’t describe them as particularly sensible. I remember the bottles of wine once we were in bed, guys… Maybe then, being grown up is about strength; about just getting on and doing life the best way you know how?

I’ve had some cray jobs (dating agency, adult material mail order, turkey plucking), went travelling instead of going to University, fell in love with stupid boys (who hasn’t?). I’ve lived alone (for a bit) in a strange foreign city, accepted a free tattoo from a man who lives in a hut in Thailand; all of these things make up the fabric of my rites of passage and the end result is: I’m still just a kid at heart. Sensible? No, not really, but strong? Better believe it!

The most grown up things about me, to date, are: 1) I always pay my bills on time 2) I’ve committed myself for life to another human being and 3) I’ve filed my own tax returns (in 2010 and 2011).

So, to recap: how far off was my idea of adulthood? Pretty far, I guess.

I though 30 was ancient and I assumed I would have kids because Mum did and so did Sine. I don’t think I actually pictured the man I would end up with (and I like to think that’s because then, I didn’t even want one).

I thought I’d have a better job, maybe something creative like fashion designer or an artist, like Dad (shame I can’t draw for fudge). Beyond that, I don’t think I had the normal expectations. I knew I’d see the world, make friends, be happy.

Guess really, I’m not such a bad non-adult adult after all, huh?

Things Are Going To Get Easier (Then Harder), Then Easier Again

Write a letter to yourself aged sixteen (via my trusty Writing Exercises)tumblr_n74xzvbK091r7621zo1_500

Dear Christa,

Honestly, this is a hard note to write given that I know how sensitive you are. You’re still sensitive by the way and you cry a lot; happy, sad, angry (especially angry), you have excellently functioning tear ducts. Well done.

Where to start on this very important document though? First of all, let’s get the obvious one out the way: you aren’t even that fat. Over the next two decades, you will wonder what the hell you were even worried about. Right now, aged sixteen, you look pretty great.

When you get to my age you will have more confidence with less to be confident about. Which, when you consider it, is almost as good as having a flat stomach. When you get here you’ll understand.

I realise as I type away at this, that at my core I’m not that different to you. A little bit less insecure yes but still prone to moments of crippling self-doubt. And I still haven’t the first idea what the f**k I’m going to do with my life.

The only difference now is that I know that’s okay. That living a full and happy life is as important as setting the world on fire, although there is still time. There really is still time.

Keep writing though. Write often, write honestly – basically don’t just talk about it willy nilly; do it, okay?

36 year old you is still as hopeful as you are; still deeply faithful to the theory that everything is going to be okay in the end. Still a romantic twat, even after three years of marriage and over six tripping on shoes left in the kitchen (in front of the sink!). Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah… you get married.

I’ll give you a moment to process that. In fact, let’s just talk boys for a second.

Boys are great, as are the men they grow into. They are fun and funny and you’re not sure about them now but you will find this out for yourself. Some of your favourite friends will be and are, boys. At the moment, you are probably doing one of two things as you read this, or both: a) turning up your nose snottily as if to say ‘ew’ and b) thinking about boys again, for you think of them often.

In fact, it’s impossible for you to talk to one without forming a crush and then fantasising about them, like, all the time. You aren’t even particularly sexual by now so those daydreams are pretty tame.

I can’t remember if you’ve even seen a penis yet, let alone touched one. I think you might still be petrified of the idea of them (they’re not that bad).

You should be experimenting by the way, so I’m not going to lecture you on that. Enjoy the ride, for god’s sake. Actually, I’m not going to talk you out of doing any of the things you will do, except maybe one big one. The choices you make will make you into me. Plus, you’ll have stories for later. My friend told me I have the best dating stories the other night, and it made me proud.

So, carry on. Do everything exactly as you choose.

Do me one favour though. When, aged 24, you get your heart obliterated by a bad man (worth it) and you hit rock bottom with a thud, DO NOT accept the offer of dinner with the first person who asks you. This will not be a good scene and it will last six long years that you will never get back. Trust me on that. (You don’t even get dinner).

Although, didn’t I just say all these things will turn you into me? Maybe scrub the above paragraph. But take less shit and remember, when he says you need help, that you are crazy; he’s projecting.

So yeah. You’re a wife and it’s awesome and not at all as you would imagine. You’re not a mother. I don’t think you have any desire to be but just so you know, I’ve decided not to do that. You have a step son though, he’s nine.

You fancy your husband a lot and you like beards now.

There it is, kid. A recap, if you will: write lots, experiment a lot, penises are actually pretty okay, collect stories for later use and don’t let shitty relationship keep you down for long. Oh yeah, and travel, as much as you can afford to and as often as you can. You’re going to love Thailand.

You’re going to be okay, you know?

Peace out,

Christa xoxo

Ps. Your friends trick you into wearing shorts to school round about now. Don’t fall for it, it rains that day and they all bail on you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 131 other followers