Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I never did.

Level 41

It’s that time of the year again. Time to gaze into the navel of my birthday and give thanks to the past year. This isn’t quite as epic a milestone as last year obviously but it’s still been a pretty sweet ride. 

40 has been good to me. I’ve done a lot of cool things, including two trips, fallen in love with Margate and spent a lot of time with a lot of good people. I’ve made some great new friends, enjoyed time with old ones – I’ve had fun at work, put myself forward for a new role which didn’t work out (but I’m quite pleased about that). I’ve been creative, I’ve been lazy – I’ve spent a lot of money, faced some fears, cried some tears. It’s been a well-rounded year and I’m grateful for it. 

I love my life and even when I put myself down for being old (every single day of my life), I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a wise woman with a wealth of life experience and better still, I’m still learning every day. I might be who I am but there’s always room to undulate and grow.

Here’s to reaching Level 41 tomorrow. I can only hope that it’s as eventful and as fun as the last. 

 

 

You Can’t Handle the Tooth

Ugh, you know what’s almost as scary as ghost sharks, home invasion and getting a paper cut between the fingers? Dentists. They’re terrifying in every way and what’s worse is that we need them in order to… have teeth.

I’ve recently had to bite the bullet and find a new dentist. Turns out I need a root canal, which I’ve had before and to be honest, can handle if I have to. It’s just that initial dread of having to visit the man in the white coat who’s just been waiting about to personally hurt me – both physically and financially.

My last dentist was fine (blunt AF but fine) but during our last appointment I had a panic attack in his chair and I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to the scene of the crime. He was sweet enough and it wasn’t his fault but I just suddenly got so overwhelmed that my body lost control.

I thought I was fine but as soon as my chin started to tremble, my body started to shake and tears started to run – I knew it was game over. It’s that foam stuff they fill your mouth with in order to take a mold of your teeth. The worst invention of all time.

My new dentist, however is doing little to keep the fear going. He’s lovely, reassuring and has a little tattoo of a tooth on his leg. How can I be scared of that? Thanks to him my teeth are looking better than ever and even though I have to have the dreaded RC on November 5th (remember, remember), I feel hopeful for the future of my smile for the first time in years.

I kind of need to be a little scared of the dentist though, it seem more natural. We can’t become friends. That would be like accidentally becoming BFFs with Jason Voorhees, it would upset the natural order of the universe. Some things are just meant to make you feel icky.

What is your ‘every day’ fear?

The Monday Feeling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Horror F(r)iends

I might not have made it clear enough on this blog: I live for the movies. All movies really but mainly horror. Good horror, bad horror, cheap horror – most of it has a place in this old heart of mine. My absolute favourites of all time include Candyman and Hellraiser – with a whole lot of variety in between – and what better month than this to revisit the classics and discover new and exciting horror gems?

This post isn’t strictly about those movies though (we’ll do a 31 Horrors recap at the end of the month), it’s about the like-minded friends who love the same movies I do (specifically horror). People like this, the ones who really really get you are like gold dust I swear and this post is for them.

Of course anyone who reads this blog will be familiar with my blog wife Jillian already. We originally bonded over our love of odd movies and are now three years deep into our Great Blog Collab. Our specialty, and favourite month just happens to be Halloween so you could say we’re on the same page when it comes to horror films (and shark movies but they get their own month). In fact, Ginger Snaps is the first film we ever reviewed together, FACT FANS. We also appreciate women on murderous rampages, Film Noir and women who look good smoking.

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Katharine Isabelle, werewolves AND smoking? The holy horror trinity (read my review here)

Jill and I have had some real hits and misses over the years but most times seem to more or less agree on the ratings. Sometimes the films we pick are too good and that can be a problem when our original MO is to snark the hell out of the things we watch – but you can’t win them all. I’m so thankful for Jill, one of the best things to come out of blogging for me – a gorgeous friend online and IRL now too.

James, my podcast partner also deserves a shout out for sitting through some of the dreck I’ve made him watch over the years in the name of content. Cat Sick Blues, anyone? (I do NOT recommend). We’ve also explored a lot of anti-horror together. To name but a few: Felt, The Sacrament, Magic Magic, Spring and Digging Up the Marrow – all of which could be categorised outside the genre comfortably but are definitely shining examples of horror done well.

Honestly, the podcast has brought me so much joy and being able to just waffle on about films until the cows come home is the best thing ever. There’s a limit to how much people want to talk to me about these things so to find a like-minded partner is priceless, honestly. I hope we never stop. Even if James doesn’t rate The Exorcist III.

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Felt (2014)

And last but by no means least my lovely friend Matt who unwittingly inspired today’s post. Matt is the most knowledgeable horror fiend I know and even though we’ve only known each other for a year, I feel like he’s my horror twin. This morning we compared notes via messenger on what we’ve watched this month already and those are the conversations I live for.

We’re even planning a really cool project off the back of our interests and it is going to be so ace I can’t even tell you. I’ll share more when we’ve actually got off our bottoms and made solid plans. This week we’re just treading water until Halloween (2018) is released.

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Hai bae ❤

I can’t not shout out my husband as well, who puts up with all my shit and still seems to like me. Who hasn’t wavered (yet) when I’ve forced him to get involved in my 31 Horrors challenge. Who suggested The Company of Wolves for tonight’s viewing – and who’s just super-cute most of the time. How lucky am I?

So today I am feeling extra blessed to have these people in my life so we can share our common interests like the beasts that we are.

Thanks for being as horrible as I am deep down 🎃👻🔪

The Scariest Tale of All

I often think about fear and how it affects me. All my life I think I’ve been afraid to try too hard. Sounds pretty general (and maybe relatable?) but if I’m honest, if I’d pushed myself harder in certain areas, things could have been different. Higher education for instance or my so-called talent for spinning a sentence – I’ve been scared to put myself out there in such a way that I actually get some of the things I want.

I am content with what I have though, and I’m genuinely happy with my life. We could always do more or have more but it’s important to appreciate our lot too – so I’m not lamenting anything really, or wishing I’d done things differently. I was meant to be a underachiever and that’s okay, I’m alright, kid.

The one thing that truly terrifies me though is getting older. On one hand we gain wisdom (supposedly) with every passing year but I’m genuinely afraid to get to a point where I’ve lost all my teeth and my knees don’t work anymore. The world is still so obsessed with youth and beauty – and even though I barely have either now, the complete loss of it is very hard to come to terms with. One day I will be a real and true elderly woman with a blue rinse and there’s nothing I can do to stop the process.

I once read an article by a woman who wrote that being middle-aged was the hardest thing to get used to because nobody sees you anymore. I thought at the time this sounded stupid but turns out to be true. You hit 40 and you’re suddenly invisible, the see-through best friend to all your hot younger pals. I am sort of joking, but only because if I don’t I will cry.

So if right now you asked me what my greatest fear is, after sharks, I would say it’s getting older. I’m scared and it is inevitable: I will age. I’m ageing now – every second of every single day I am getting older and I can’t slow it down – so I have to accept it. I can’t let the fear rule my life – I have to remind myself that with every thing I lose, I gain something new. Experience, wisdom, wrinkles.

Since I can’t beat the passage of time, I’m going to have to own it.

CopenYAYgen

I’m not the best traveler in the world. I get kind of angsty when I have to step outside my comfort zone, particularly when it comes to the practical aspects of the actual travel. But of course it’s always worth it and I love nothing more than mooching around a new city. My favourite ever thing to do is watch people going about their day while I sit and drink coffee.

I thought I’d share our trip to Copenhagen with you with that in mind. It was a really lovely time away with Tora and we did all the things we really love to do, namely eat, drink and wander about. Here are a few of the places we visited.

What We Ate (most importantly)

Wulff & Konstali Food Shop

We enjoyed a simple and delicious breakfast at W&K on our first morning and I think it might be one of the best meals we ate. Once you’ve grabbed yourself a seat, you go up to the counter and tick off the items you fancy on a card. For a set price you can get five or seven items (I opted for 7). The breakfast portions are small, like breakfast tapas.

The interior has a clean canteen feel to it but it’s cosy and bright inside while the service was fast and the food really was excellent – the price was reasonable too. Copenhagen is an expensive place but there are so many options you can opt for more thrifty choices if you want to.

We stayed in the lovely neighbourhood of Nørrebro and this was about a 10-15 minute walk from our apartment. I’m still thinking of the crispy bacon and the incredible sesame seed danish I had to start.

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Møller Kaffe & Køkken

This was also a dream. Breakfast is such a luxury when you’re away from home and it should be as fancy as possible. When we arrived (it was Saturday morning) the queue was pretty hefty with a wait for a table to match – which is how we knew it was going to be worth it.

Again it was a selection of small dishes including tiny beef sausages, waffles and chicken nuggets. I also enjoyed an exceptional hot chocolate which came with the cream on the side, to be plopped it in your own good time.

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War Pigs

This was a recommendation from a friend of Tora’s (who had visited but not been able to eat here because of vegan friends!).

We walked to the Meatpacking District to find War Pigs and it was a really interesting area but unfortunately it was also mostly closed. We found that on Friday a lot of places didn’t seem to have much action going on, in our neighbourhood especially. Things were much livelier at the weekend which is probably a good thing to know for future visits.

Anyway, the food here was outstanding and absolutely my kind of grub. I opted for spare ribs, potato salad and coleslaw, while Tora had pork shoulder, chicken wings and the mac ‘n cheese. Unfortunately I made a rookie error at the counter and accidentally ordered the super hot link sausages and couldn’t eat them. Would 100% eat the ribs again and again. Sorry vegans.

What We Saw

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The Little Mermaid Statue

I’m so glad I got to see this girl for myself but she is surprisingly tiny (perfectly formed though). I think she could be easy to miss if you don’t go out of your way to find her. Basically, you have to keep an eye out for the flock of tourists crowding her – and you’ll be fine.

The light wasn’t great for photos and I had to climb down on some slippery rocks to get her in shot but she’s so beautiful, it was totally worth it.

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Design Museum Denmark

It was raining on our first morning so after our lovely breakfast we made our way to the Design Museum which was really interesting. Danish design is very distinctive but it’s fascinating to see where it got a lot of its influence from.

I particularly enjoyed The Danish Chair An International Affair permanent exhibition which pays tribute to the diversity of… well, chairs.

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TorvehallerneKBH Food Market

I was actually too full to eat anything here but it is ace and a really nice space just to sit and watch the world go by. Offering you all manner of cuisine and goodies to try, there’s something here for every taste.

Where We Stayed

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A Home From Home

Our apartment was stunning and felt very traditional, with amazing lighting and clean space. We spent a good amount of time just doing our thing there, watched a bit of Netflix, eating sugar cookies and reading in the nook. Damn I miss that nook.

You can find similar deals on Airbnb here.

~ It was such a good trip and I really recommend Copenhagen.

My only small disappointment is that Tivoli Gardens was shut for Halloween decorating so I didn’t get the chance to visit. In some ways this might have been a blessing in disguise as our Airbnb host pointed out, it’s in an area that Danish people never visit because it’s so touristy – she wasn’t wrong.

Copenhagen, I miss you already. Thanks for the memories.

*Featured image not mine (via Unsplash)