Sunday, 18 January 2015

Floraidh, Thongs and, Well, Imperfect Blogging

I am shrieking with laughter; tonsils-out, throaty, whole hearted laughter. It's Wednesday's publications committee meeting, after all, so I am surely not doing anything else. My favourite day of the week with my favourite people - oh, how I am laughing. Everything is great. Everything is so funny, so hilarious. I CANNOT STOP LAUGHING.

But all is not what it seems. Sure, on the outside everything's hunky dory, couldn't be better. But this tells a decidedly different story to what's really going on; a feverish tension is brewing in my mind and body. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead. A question acutely urgent and confusing nags away at me. I am forced to muster all my rapidly retreating strength to stop myself spitting it out.

"What the fuck am I wearing a thong with dungarees for?"

If you've never worn a thong with dungarees: just imagine searing hot pain and pressure in areas that should just never experience searing hot pain and pressure. It is the meeting of two crazily impractical garments; you wear them and finally begin to wonder if it could actually be true that you should prioritise comfort (?!) over style (?!). Briskly waddling past my friends on the way out, I flash a huge, nothing-to-see-here grin. "Sorry guys, gotta run - it's just I'm wearing a thong and I'm going to pass out! Any! Second! NOW!!"

My sides hurt from laughing; my cheeks ache - although perhaps not so much as my neither regions do. Either way, my exterior puts on a damn good show of Flo Is Totally Fine Yo'.

But despite the impeccable performance - if I say so myself - I think it's fair to say that this week, Flo has not been totally fine, yo'. No need for the grisly details, but it's been a period of Kate Nash on necessary repeat, too many appearances from the pizza delivery guy who definitely knows my name and even more heart-to-hearts on numerous sofas. Still, all of those things got me through it; somehow, I've always beaten the urge to stay in bed and not bother with the day. But the one thing that apparently doesn't get me through hard times is writing it all down; I don't feel the need to pick up my "pen", no matter how hard I try.

And it breaks my heart when I can't write anything. Words are literally the only weapon I have; my tongue is not so quick in person, and my blushing habit only reveals that no matter how sassy I am attempting to be, the game will always be given away sooner or later. That "blank mind, blank Word document" kind of failure brings out the mood swings and the self loathing Tweets more than my terrible underwear decisions ever could. Writing is My Thing, after all.

This pretty sombre realisation has not brought much cheer to a pretty cheerless week.

Still, I got home after the meeting and returned to my old faithful cotton pants. Certainly not hot, but definitely not going to render me infertile like that bloody thong probably has. Those cotton pants were like a cold bathroom floor when I'm on the verge of a whitey, that night.

But it was then when it became sparkling clear that laughing all the way through it - tonsils-out, throaty, whole hearted laughter - is the best way to square up and face all adversity. Yep, even if adversity comes in the form of wildly uncomfortable material designed solely to give you wedgies like a bitch.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Two Thousand and Fifteen: Self Love and Saying Goodbye to the Shrinking Violet

New Year's Resolutions are seemingly an opportunity to look within yourself and meticulously examine every one of your flaws. You're in bad shape, you're not working hard enough, you're spending too much money - you need to change. You need to strive to better yourself. Your jeans are only getting tighter. You'll never get a promotion at this rate. This has to be your year to get...better. Somehow.

I'm no different. I'm on this misery-go-round of self criticism constantly, and I know it's unhealthy; but when it's so ingrained into your psyche, it's tremendously difficult to stop. Almost daily I will question my writing ability or look at my cellulite in the mirror and miserably wonder "will it ever...lessen?" before giving the Galaxy a second thought. It's like I've been cast in this wonderful movie that might do very well in the box office but instead of jumping at the opportunity and learning my lines, I'm starting to wonder if I should just be the understudy, instead. Am I good enough for this role I've been given? Am I up to the task?

But this year, I've decided I want things to be different. I want things to be positive. I want to be the happier, fulfilled leading lady - not the reluctant understudy who frets about cellulite on her thighs and people liking her blogs. So instead of begrudgingly forking out for an eye wateringly expensive gym membership or devising a long term budget plan, I'm going to resolve to be kinder to myself this year. I'm going to want to stick to these resolutions, not curse myself for ever writing the bloody things.
  • if in doubt whether to get a glass or a pitcher, always choose the pitcher
  • learn to smile at rude customers
  • wear heels more often for optimum sass levels
  • wear plum lipstick more often for optimum sass levels
  • wear anything that increases the likelihood of achieving optimum sass levels
  • do not beat myself up for being an introvert - I cannot force myself to be anything else
  • buy more green smoothies on the way to work
  • be vocal and unapologetic about the causes I care for passionately
  • listen to old favourite albums and continue to be delighted and enthralled like it's the first time I heard them back in 2007
  • be perpetually inquisitive, ask more questions
  • do not accept half formed answers
  • apply for the jobs and internships that terrify me
  • never apologise for selfies, capture every second of a "good self esteem day"
  • own each second of being inappropriately overdressed for an occasion
  • accept that I am infinitely better off without those who I can't please despite my best efforts
  • walk more, get the subway less
  • learn to love my eternally rosy cheeks, marvel at the money I must save on blusher
  • do yoga every morning
  • try to be a sunflower and not a shrinking violent in academic situations
  • surround myself only with people who will firmly pull the breaks on my anxiety, not accelerate it further
  • do not let any attractive boy pass me by, do not assume that he will not want to talk to me
  • write down every little detail of what I'm thinking
  • pack practical footwear in my handbag; I'll thank myself
  • spend an inordinate amount of money on beautiful underwear if it's what I absolutely need to feel comfortable with my body
  • stop with the monumentally unfunny self deprecating jokes, because I'm probably alright, really.
Happy New Year. Know that every blog hit you may have given me was appreciated and shrieked over. I hope that this year your jokes will be without self deprecation, your sass levels consistently high and your cocktail pitchers always full. Because you'll obviously be on your second or third one. You riot, you.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

My Blue Pills and Your Bad Moves

Big BIG news: I'm back on the pill - woah, no need to pull on your best Calvins and set off to my flat. It's not what you think. It's not because I've finally become attractive so have suddenly been overwhelmed with male attention; goodness knows this world does not need any little Floraidh Clements but then, you probably knew that.

The real reason is that due to various organs not working together in the Oompa-Loompa like harmony in which they ought to, the doctor has put me back on these little blue pills that make me spotty, chubby and above all, especially irritable - like, what's fair about all that? I've "explored options" with a medical professional, found a sensible solution, made a decision to reduce my chances of breeding and I have never looked more dreadful for it. I am essentially being punished for being a grown up. Honestly, for the past few weeks it's been like my brain has been programmed into only hearing and viewing the things that make me grumble and send mardy texts to my mum.

Therefore I'm going to list those things, so hopefully you'll stop doing them around me, or I'm going to set you on fire; and as you now full well know, I'm a woman heavily dosed up on hormones. Don't tempt me.

  • Stop being dreadful to retail and hospitality workers. Now that I'm the least competent sales advisor in Superdrug, I've been exposed to life on the other side of the tills and getting up close and well, in a professional distance, with members of the public. By and large, the Glaswegian public are lovely and wonderfully forgiving of my fumbles and occasionally bad conversation ("sorry, I'm all a bit snotty and minging!" "oh..." *smiles politely, observes the snotty, minging sales girl handle their items*) but with the gems come the rough - and woah, can the rough be rude. Look, I know you don't need to say more than "thanks" to me in our brief encounter, realistically; but there is absolutely no need to shout at me for matters beyond my control, scold me for being too slow or demand to speak my manager about my so-called "incompetency - why would you employ her?" I am honestly doing all I can. I promise.

  • Equally, stop putting other people down for being "too nice" - what does this even mean? To hear this once in my twenty years would be one thing, but I've heard it several times just in the past six months and each time I'm just as baffled (usually making a mental note to "blog about that, sometime"). Putting people down for their virtues is, can only be jealously. I don't know about anything else but I'd hope those striving to be "nice" are far more tolerable than those heading in the other direction.

  • Keep your opinions on what somebody eats - or rather, doesn't eat at all - to yourself. As somebody who has lived through a lifelong "fussy eater phase", I find it rude when people comment, as though what's on my plate is genuinely their business. I mean, it isn't so bad because it's me, and I really am just this overgrown child who will get peeved off at you for it, but make similar comments to somebody with a truly troubled relationship with food and their reaction may be far worse than mine; just a sassy remark on a blog post.

  • Actually, do us all a good turn and keep all of your snarky comments to yourself - especially so when they're targeting something as personal and relative as food tastes, clothes, hobbies, musical tastes, those kinds of topics that really do depend on the tastes of the individual. Curious questions are one thing, outright insults are quite another. Clashes, differences and variety are exciting and refreshing, they inspire conversation - your comments kill it altogether.

  • Please do not balefully glare at me like I've killed your entire family when I admit I'm not a massive fan of Christmas. With great excitement comes the capacity for great disappointment, and December is no different. Christmas, to me, has always been like that first kiss with a new boyfriend; I day dream about it being this redefining moment that I will live to fondly regale to my teenage daughter in years to come, but then suddenly his saliva’s on my chin and I would just really like it to stop.

  • Anyone who claims to not adore Madonna's Beautiful Stranger, ELO's Livin' Thing or Dexy's Midnight Runners' Come On Eileen are just really upsetting. Stop pretending you don't adore them and are actually planning to play them all on a loop at your wedding.

  • Those who make the wild claim of "hating people" is something I can't get my head around. What exactly did the 7.125 billion people currently residing on this earth do to get you a bit miffed with humanity - each one of them? Did they all tell you that your hair was a bit crap or that they'd nab your actually surprisingly fit lad if they could? Are they the types to look you up and down in with a disapproving look in their eyes when you stumble into the bar, trashed before 10pm? Did each of them unfollow you on Twitter despite the fact that your Tweets are quite clearly gold? Are some of them voting UKIP just to piss you off? I didn't think so. A final question: is the entire world the problem or are things just not going your way?
And although these stupid pills do make me feel like the entire world is the problem, all of this is really just my own ideal version of life not going my way. The fun we're having, these pills and I; meticulously dissecting all that's wrong and turning a blind, oestrogen-clouded eye to all that remains good, hopeful and pleasant. And I know all of that is there; believe me, I do. I'm listening to Come On Eileen just now, for example.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Tissues and Issues: Sensitive Soul Soliloquys

My friends’ couches have seen tears of all varieties. As a rule, there will always be tissues in my handbag, but they’re rarely in aid of the “cold that’s going around” Almost daily, I have to apologise to somebody I’ve just spilled my verbal angst on – “I’m sorry, I know it’s not anything, really. I’m just a worrier!”

And then I have to give that half smile, half frown, pretend it’s not really the big deal my wheedling tones have suggested, silly me, change the subject, but how are you getting on? Because of course it could never really be a big deal - that Floraidh Clement, she's just a worrier. 
A "worrier", it certainly sums me up - god, it's almost like I want people to read this and think I'm even less attractive. Because that's really not, is it? There's nothing attractive about the consistent and furious texting into the phone keypad, the friends who so boldly offer their selves up as counsellors, attentive on the other end. There's nothing hot about how my voice raises an octave, takes on that uncomfortable strangled tone and starts to stutter. There's no passion killer quite like the flushed cheeks and furrowed brow; believe me, there's desire but it's not what you think - I need you to tell me that it's okay, I need you to tell me that I'm fine. I'm craving your reassurance, your level head to bring me back down to earth.

It's not just all worrying; in general, I'm a highly emotional person. I'm pretty sensitive. I cry quite a lot, not necessarily because I'm glum, but because there doesn't seem to be much of a logical correlation between my tear ducts and any given situation. When I'm up, I'm really up; when it goes the other way, it's exactly the same. My heart rules my head and I act totally on my emotions, rarely on "how things actually are outside of Flo's perceptions of things"

I bet it all sounds exhausting to be my friend. I don't doubt it; for some, my existence is just wholly exasperating. Recently, I have been the recipient of many rolling eyes, raised eyebrows and tuts. Mostly I shake this off - empathy, man - but sometimes it bothers me, because this is just how I’m wired. The friends who are understanding of the way I am are nothing short of angels, usually wielding M&S food and a spot on their couch for me to occupy for "as long as I need it".

To be truthful, I'm worrying about a lot at the moment, mostly about university. My once certain academic future is shaky as I've realised I don't love my degree subject as much as I so desperately want to. I force myself to try and work on it - turn my internet off, turn my phone off, turn everything in my life the hell off - but it doesn't happen, because I don't seem to feel any desire to make it happen.
But what do I do here? How do I change this part of my personality that is so intrinsic and ingrained into my psyche?

For a long time, I have often scolded myself, urging myself to toughen up; to find and flick some internal switch that toughens my skin and firmly shuts the emotional valve I allow to flow so freely. The more stoney-faced among us might look like the stick is so far up their ass that it's actually stuck to their tonsils, but at least they've probably not cried for at least a fortnight. Maybe I could learn a thing or two.

But I really do try to see the benefits of being this kind of person. As I've just said, it's not hot. It's a pain in the ass. I sometimes wish I were less emotional, less "in tune", more rational and more logical; a person with the kind of personality that would wear a trouser suit and sensible, lace up shoes. But on the other hand, my understanding of my own feelings means that I am implicitly careful when handling other peoples; I know how to tread delicately, which is a skill I feel many could do with harnessing. I know how to choose my words carefully; I would never want to inflict anxiety on somebody else, because I know through daily, first hand experience that it's excruciating to be addressed in ways that make you feel small. The only kinds of emotion I want to leave on others are positive ones - no matter who they are. And I will go out of my way to do so.

Look, I sort of just gave myself a bit of credit on a blog - see? That's quite rare. Maybe the emotional wreck is clearing herself up. Maybe this state of being, this wild sensitivity, this firm awareness of my emotional range is not all "tissues and issues" - battle wounds, confidence blooms.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Shot with (OK)Cupid's Arrow?

It's not very "cool" to admit, but I think the "Flo's Street Cred" boat has well and truly sailed into the ocean of "Dream On" now, right? So here it is: I'm a romantic. A senseless, foolish, weeping romantic. I am fucking tragic for a good love story. I'm the friend who goes doe eyed when you confess that there's somebody new in your life; your butterflies are contagious and I'll catch 'em as hard as you do. Every single time.

I'm an idiot for all of it; I use the term "idiot" because believe me, rarely does any good come from being this way. My life is essentially defined by this constant, furious struggle of keeping my heart in my chest, and not my sleeve.

This is why joining a dating website probably never occurred to me as something I should get into. I mean, can you think of any good love story in which the couple met via - the ghastliness of it... - some form of virtual medium? Christ, Romeo didn't "swipe right" to Juliet. Bridget Jones didn't get chatting to Mark Darcy on Tumblr one lonely, wine-filled evening. Peetah didn't favourite so many of Katniss' tweets that she finally confessed to Prim "I think the bread guy's quite keen"

But then one of my besties found the love of her life on OkCupid and let me tell you, my beautiful friend just glows, these days.

Anyway, her success made me reconsider my stance, since I currently have all the glowing potential of a blackboard and if anything, I quite like chatting to strangers. Plus, it's 2014; maybe Shakespeare would have been all over Tinder if he were still knocking about. Maybe it's what he would've wanted for me.

The process of creating my profile was a nightmare of course. At one dire point, the word "swazzy" was included in the first paragraph and I had confessed to having a massive crush on Woody Harrelson. But after an hour of fiddling over what kind of Flo I'd like to project to the online dating world, I can safely say I was hooked straight away.

I'll explain.

  • I can browse potential men pals whilst looking like this!!
Man killer xo

  • The process of online dating is completely hassle free - no awkward chat if I don't want it, here. No need to doll up, no need for my friends to tell me he "doesn't seem into it - but don't worry! He's a proper dickhead anyway!" and no need to try and be anything but myself.
  • And if they don't like "myself"? Block. Block away. On to the next one.
  • One particularly cold evening, I spent half an hour in intense, passionate discussion with a bearded guy exclusively about the majesty of Matthew McConaughey - something I am always down for doing. 
  • I have also enjoyed genuinely great, funny, interesting conversations with numerous guys - the kind when I look forward to opening their messages - but y'know...Matthew McConaughey.
  • It's like having somebody hand my ego a hot chocolate whenever somebody "likes" me.
  • My friends and I now regularly sit together in an orderly circle, browsing through the app and cackling away; so it's made us closer, too. Cute, I suppose.

  • You generally still go to bed after logging off with a notable lack of spooning partner.
  • In a sense, being scouted to partake in group sex is somewhat flattering, but ultimately not really on my agenda right now.
  • Nor is being asked if I'd like a sugar daddy.
  • Nor are any of the other obscene things people have propositioned me with online - and I'm no prude.
All in all, OkCupid success rating? I'm still working on my verdict. In the meantime, I actually (and possibly shamefully) posted a link to my blog on my own profile.

Hey guys! Still up for "liking" me now?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Flovember Rain

Have you ever tried Jager and Coke? You should. Few kinds of alcohol merit the term "delightful" as sincere praise but since pioneering this concoction myself, I struggle to find another word to use. Jager and Coke is essentially a party in liquid form - well, if your kind of party comprises of staggering behind the cashier desk at 10am the next morning, hands still shaking as you enter the digits and watching the shop go round and round. It might not be yours, but apparently it's mine.

Speaking of "shop", that's a thing now - "I was looking for a job and then I found a job". No longer are my weekends spent sitting at my desk in gross cotton knickers, desperately searching for the right words to finish a short story I should have realistically abandoned months ago. Instead, I have found myself working in the starry industry of retail, namely Superdrug. Indeed, these days I'm a small, thoroughly unimportant cog in the corporate machine, offering you beauty cards and Star Buys before you can mutter "I'm actually in, like, a bit of a rush?". I exist exclusively in the backdrop of your retail experience; literally, I am the poorly paid extra in your movie of your life. But in turn, you are an extra in mine; the difference being, your movie probably doesn't have any Jager and Coke in it. Together. In the same glass. Are you convinced yet? Have you jumped out of bed to run to the nearest bar? I hope so.

But the honest truth is that I'm actually a bit shit at my job; no good on the tills, that is. Truly, I take the "pro" out of "proletariat"- ask my boss, who just this weekend exclaimed in surprise "I was just thinking, you've not had to buzz for me for around two hours now!"

Because, well, yes - that's an unusually long time for me to not need help. It's all the numbers and the adding up and the rounding up and rounding down. Christ, I'm an English student, numbers may as well be riddles. The place might be called Superdrug but I surely bring nothing Super to the whole situation. Might aswell be called Sorrydrug for the amount of times I have to mutter it, embarrassed and resisting the urge to mention my A Level grades in a last ditch attempt to prove that my brain is not totally filled with Maryland cookies and the Kardashians.

And it isn't, it really isn't. I also successfully applied for a marketing internship for a jewellery business, which is a genuinely wonderful, worthwhile way of spending my only day off. I sit in front of a laptop next to a kitten called Beau and a bag of Haribo, scanning through social media and planning blog posts and marketing strategies. I have no witty tales to share from the experience so far but it is massively fulfilling. On Friday I walked out of the office with eyes twinkling like the necklaces they sell, already looking forward to what next week might bring.

Hmm, other things?

I went on a terrible date with a terrible boy in the name of journalism. That was pretty crap, but like all those with taste buds, I love Irn Bru sorbet and would probably endure hellish things to get some of it - and 800 words, of course. I also went on OkCupid as half-research, half-"if it's good enough for Anya..." and ended up speaking to numerous guys, some of whom live infinitely more interesting sounding lives than me, some of whom need to acquire something close to actual lives. Either way, I ended up pretty hooked on the whole thing, and got my friends to waste their time on it too. I have since dubbed us all the "OkCREWpid" - I just felt myself losing readers - and we spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on our phones in companionable silence, just scrolling and judging. Me less so, nowadays. Make of that what you will.

Finally, my dad fixed my broken window, so I will no longer lie awake at night and be forced to wonder if I'm taking on too much, if my hair is too dark or my current outlook on uni even darker.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Girl Crushes: Because My Eyes Aren't Painted On

I wish it was less clichéd, but it really did start in the changing rooms at school.

One of my friends had the sort of figure I didn't realise actually existed outside of the silver screen. She was an early bloomer and had a real Marilyn "hourglass" shape, all curves at the chest and hips and thighs with the daintiest of waists. Her body was exquisite and almost unearthly; even when the rugby shirt and nylon shirts were worn for P.E. she was statuesque. I never thoroughly examined what it was I was actually feeling at the time - attraction, admiration, maybe even arousal - but one thing was certain; I could not tear my eyes away from this girl and her beautiful body.

Though I've not been in school changing rooms for years now (thank God), this kind of attraction to the female form has honestly only intensified. When an attractive girl walks by, I still struggle to tear my eyes away, forcefully resisting the urge to saunter up to her and blurt "I'm sorry, it's just that you are really bloody gorgeous" Women in magazines, women on Tumblr, women on the music scene; I regularly gawp at them all, usually whilst wondering how it could be humanely possible to look that beautiful.

Still, it's not exclusively along the lines of the superficial "pal, I've gotta say it - you are FIT FIT FIT" to the attractive strangers I encounter. Many of the girls I am fortunate enough to call my friends I feel similarly about; their strength, their wisdom, their talents and their magnificent peach of a bum. They just have fanciable qualities. To some extent, I am besotted with each of them; I don't feel that the fact I've only ever had boyfriends really does much to deny me accepting the plainly obvious facts.

But if this is how I feel, are boyfriends what I'm meant to have - or could it be that I'm gay?

Well, over time I've realised that's not the case - I identify as straight. Sure, sexuality is fluid and nothing is totally certain; for all I know, I'll meet a woman tomorrow who I'll want to run off to Vegas to elope with. But in the meantime, I can only see myself being in relationships with men - what can I say? I like a bit of stubble in my life.

Yet there's just something about women. I can appreciate the softer skin, the wider hips and more delicate wrists. They are just universally wonderful. But as time has gone on I've started to realise that it does go beyond the high school terminology of "fancying" them; it goes so much deeper. I think it's just sincere wonder and admiration for beautiful human beings, whether they are this way physically or on the inside.

And quite positively, whilst you are filling yourself with this admiration for womankind as opposed to envy or bitterness, it's easier to feel less resentment towards yourself. If you are able to see so much beauty elsewhere, sometimes it's easier to identify when it's a little closer to home; you might not know it sometimes, but you are allowed to give yourself credit for your own strength, wisdom, talents and magnificent peach of a bum.

In that sense, my changing room fascination blossomed into something meaningful and important which I carry with me every day in life; I truly believe that loving and appreciating other women was crucial in helping me to love and appreciate myself. And every thirteen year old girl checking out their friend in the changing room deserves to know that as soon as they possibly can.