Category Archives: Things I don’t understand

In which I don’t know what I look like

And I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I don’t know a woman who doesn’t suffer from body dysmorphia, and that tends to make things a bit confusing. Of course, there are plenty of mirrors around, but most shops are well up on the art of the most pleasing angle, so there’s no consistency there.  When the reflection in the Regent Street branch of Banana Republic was particularly unflattering, it meant I really couldn’t tell if it was them or me. Either way, I gave the clothes back and slipped away.

A glimpse in a store mirror on Saturday suggested I was verging on anorexia. I am really not. My mirror at home says shorter and squatter than that. I genuinely can’t tell if my bum looks big in this, because (a) what is normal for me? And (b) therefore, what is big? And (c) is that just big in my head or big from an objective perspective?

This morning, absolutely unable to tell whether I looked fine or positively bovine, I just thought ‘Fuck it’ and left for work anyway. Because I also thought, ‘What does it matter?’ I was dressed well enough to sneak within the office dress code, and that’s all that counts. No one at work is actually going to be judging me, and if they are, I won’t know about it. Which takes us back to ‘Fuck it’.

The objective fact is I’m a size 0 to a size 10, depending on which country or store I’m shopping in. That range is clearly pretty normal. I’d definitely be happier a few pounds lighter, because months of inactivity is having an effect, but all my clothes still fit so it’s not that big a deal. I’ve no ambition to look like a model, given that even models don’t look like models until they’ve been Photoshopped to the max.

So mostly, it’s just irritating. I like certainty. So it follows that I’d prefer to be able to look in a mirror and think ‘Oh yes, that is the size and shape of me that I recognise’ and therefore also ‘Those jeans work and those jeans REALLY don’t’. How can it be that instead, I can’t tell?

But then again, why do I need to be able to identify my own size and shape?  Regardless of whether I think I look fat or thin, the only difference is going to be in what I wear. I might misjudge one way or the other, but that makes no bloody difference to anything. So I think that, on further reflection, all roads lead to ‘Fuck it’.

In which my hair is my business

Thank you everso for asking.

For the two people who read this blog and don’t know me in person, I’ve had short hair for most of the time since my 20s, aka, the best part of 20 years.

I’ve heard ‘Oi, mate, your bird’s a bloke!’ from some charmer on the night bus. I didn’t punch him. I’ve heard a polite ‘Sir…’ before a guy at a reception desk clocked that I was female. My ex-husband and I got dodgy looks checking into a hotel one time, which baffled us until we realised that I looked like a teenage boy when I wore a baseball cap.

None of it’s a big deal, and mostly I just eye roll and move on. But the consistent question that really winds me up is ‘What does your boyfriend/husband/partner think?’, sometimes coupled with ‘Doesn’t he mind that you’ve got short hair?’

I’ve been hearing that for years. About 20 of them. From the 20th into the 21st century, apparently a defining characteristic of women is that they’ve got long hair; and secondly, their hairstyle is not just their choice. It should be validated by a male whose opinion is considered relevant on the matter. If Vidal Sassoon were still around and I knew him, I’d hope he appreciated that my haircuts are straight out of the Sassoon school. Everyone else can fuck off.

 

 

 

Five ways cats are like millennial employees*

*Some millennial employees. Not to tar an entire generation with the same brush. I personally know some great ones. On the other hand, did I mention my new job comes with NO DIRECT REPORTS? FTW.

  1. It’s all about them.
  2. They look blankly at you when you ask them to do something they don’t want to do; then they don’t do it. It’s as if they have no idea who’s in charge.
  3. They are capable of disappearing for long stretches of time with nothing to show for it. [? are millennials asleep on top of a dustbin]
  4. They think just showing up is enough to be deserving of attention and reward.
  5. They make you say to yourself several times a day ‘What is wrong with you?’

In which I’m not gonna lie, guys

Things look pretty bad. This is seemingly the year in which the previously unthinkable, the events and decisions and actions and values that should still be firmly unthinkable, have edged out into the light and become commonplace.

Where to start? Pick a card, any card, so let’s go with… My Twitter feed is full of people campaigning to save the NHS.

Because of the enormity of the shit that is going down, it’s almost, unbelievably, easy to overlook this one.

Save.

The NHS.

That would be the health service that looks after everyone, beginning to end, 24/7, tirelessly and selflessly, no questions asked and certainly not ‘And which credit card will you be using?’, while its staff get paid salaries that I for one would say it’s not possible to live on, I’ve got cats to support you know.

So yeah, a bedrock system of our state needs saving and for all the people trying, really, really hard, and the doctors who’ve been pushed to strike because of the government’s overweening unreasonableness, it probably won’t be. Unthinkable, right?

I guess I can’t dodge the buffoon in the corner, so. The world got a new portmanteau word this week. Instead of needing to type out a whole list to say that someone is a racist, lying, bigoted, tax-dodging, misogynistic, sexually assaultive, narcissistic, psychopathic fascist fantasist about to go on trial for raping a 13 year old girl, we can all just type ‘Trump’. See how much neater that is? But you know what concept that portmanteau word cannot encompass? Presidency. Trump will inherit the title, the percentage of Americans that is basically terrified of everyone not them saw to that.  But he’ll never be President.

And one more, for good measure. There’s the good ole’ Daily Fail, going about its day to day business of fostering hate (towards anyone, that’s the only way in which the tabloid and its readership is broad minded). In this instance, the focus was on four judges who had the temerity to do their job and make a judgement according to the law about how Article 50 could be triggered. I’m 6 weeks into Law 101 and even I know that’s legit, so you can bet the Daily Fail’s corporate lawyers do too. But what does the truth matter when you can use a story to pander to the illiberal views of a vicious minority?

It’s Remembrance Sunday today. I don’t know how we, collectively, have the fucking nerve to say ‘We remember’ those who died and what they fought for. If we remember, we sure as hell don’t care.

In which I don’t understand things

The things I don’t understand are many and varied. Pretty much anything to do with numbers (yesterday, I had to think really hard to divide 330 by 2. Yup.) Pretty much anything to do with domestic technology. I now live with a television in the house and there seem to be four remote controls for it and its associated boxes. My only interaction with the remotes has been to take the AA batteries out of one of them, so that I could use them to test if the microchip reading cat-flap was still working.

Still, there are some specific things that I have been not understanding lately.

  1. Black sinks – the new house has a black sink and draining board. No idea what it’s made of, but it’s sort of shiny. It would be shinier, but this is Oxfordshire where the water comes with a generous helping of limescale. Black and limescale do not seem to me to be natural partners.
  2. ‘I’ll do it later’ – based on serious quantitative research (quick chat with a couple of friends at work), this is the guiding principle of man time. But when is this enviable stage of ‘later’ when there are not hundreds of other things to be done? How does one get there? I do stuff now, because later, there’ll be more to do. So if I leave it until later, then later there’ll be even more to do. Clearly, there is a fold in time and only men have access to it. Fucking patriarchy.
  3. Why Ed Balls is still on Strictly – on the one hand, it’s all a bit of a laugh, innit? On the other hand, it’s scary evidence of the way that people approach voting for everything and therefore single-handedly makes a strong case against democracy.
  4. Why people, and women in particular, are obsessed with recapturing youth. There was an article today about the food you can eat that will keep you young. It won’t, of course, because time is inexorable. Until sci-fi delivers for us, or Airbnb opens up in Shangri-La, we’re all going to continue to age. So, what the article means is that there are some ways in which you can maybe help yourself to look ‘younger’. Younger than what? You aren’t going to look younger than someone who is 25, but if you’re 45, you might look younger than someone who is 70. You might also ‘not look your age’, which is a totally meaningless phrase as it’s impossible to do other than look your age, so it’s in fact an expression referring to a media construction of what people at certain ages look like. Break it all down and it’s the media telling you that you can appear different to how the media tell you people appear, if you’ll just pay the nice snake oil lady over there. What. The. Actual. Fuck.

In which I’m getting educated again

One of the main problems I have with work, other than it makes you leave the house and talk to other people and sit there all day long, is that it’s a bit dull. Busy does not equate to intellectually challenged, it just means more to do in the same amount of time. My job is busy, but it’s not hard, so I consistently have all this mental capacity going to waste, and fuck me, I’m 45 this year and I can hear the high pitched whistling noise of years passing by in which I’m achieving bugger all. I’m too lazy to be an autodidact and I need some kind of framework to make me put the effort in. Periodically this general sense of ‘Oh my god, my brain is going to mush’, hits a peak and I buy textbooks and dig out my PhD application, and then realise it’s a house deposit or PhD fees and

 

maxresdefault

(Because it turns out free WordPress is a pain in the ass with gifs)

But then the country went mad one week (Brexit) and nothing made sense, plus work is an ongoing emotional maelstrom (which I’m observing in the way that some people chase tornadoes) and I suddenly wanted very much to have something that was cold and practical and fact based to hang on to. Then I realised also that really quite a lot of the population is largely either batshit (Brexit, Trump) or incomprehensible, and thought some way of explaining that might be good.

Thus, as a neglected girlfriend to her former lover,  I have fled back to the welcoming arms of the Open University and registered for a BSc in Psychology & Law. This makes no sense whatsoever against my learning profile, and that’s kind of the point. It’s way off base for me, so it should be more of a challenge. Unfortunately, the first year’s module is all online (what, no box of reading materials?) and because it’s only undergraduate I think I might have to talk to some of the other people on the course (what for?) but still. The old grey cells should get something of a workout for a change and I’ll have access to JSTOR again. Get in.

10 reasons team days don’t work for introverts

I have bills to pay, a house deposit to save for. I’ve got a clean driving license and a savings account, National Trust membership and a John Lewis rewards card. I may not have a mortgage but I pay more than most mortgages in rent. I’ve got 20+ years of professional experience, and I’m a fucking grown up with a pretty busy life.

I do not expect to walk into a meeting room to find the tables covered in plastic and littered with craft materials and paintbrushes, with a plastic apron hanging over the back of the chair. When a woman half my age starts telling me how much fun I’m going to have painting, that is my cue to leave.

I say this on behalf of my fellow introverts, but also on behalf of anyone else who’d kind of prefer to be treated like an adult during their working day. This team building madness has to stop.

Lemme break it down:

  1. Do your remember, when you were a kid, that sense of disempowered fury you had when your parents made you do something you really didn’t want to do and you couldn’t figure out why? Now imagine feeling that, but as an adult.
  2. Wasting my work time tells me my job isn’t important.
  3. I didn’t do this shit as a kid. I’m damned if I’ll do it now, just to help you with your tick box exercise.
  4. The day of enforced socialising, with no downtime, is already flaying my soul. Throwing kindergarten activities into the mix is salt in the wound.
  5. Wasting my time tells me you don’t understand how important my time is to me, especially when I’ve had to travel for it. That’s a big disconnect.
  6. Repeatedly telling me I’m having fun doesn’t mean I’m having fun. It highlights the disjunctive nature of the experience, increases my sense of isolation and emphasises to me that there is a vast cultural difference between me and my employer.
  7. Forcing me to join in causes me to develop an intense, but thankfully short-lived, hatred for every single one of my colleagues. Except for the other normal people, and we bond in our mixture of adversity and disbelief.
  8. Forcing me (and peer pressure counts) to socialise beyond the normal 9-5 working day at the end of a team day, is actively stressful. See ‘development of short-lived hatred’, above.
  9. Healthy organisations are inclusive. Inclusivity allows for diversity. I would never allow some misguided belief that ‘everyone ought to show willing and participate’ to drive me in planning a day that I knew a percentage of people would find deeply uncomfortable.
  10. I get that y’all need to hang out together and do ‘fun’ things and bond and feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourselves. Knock yourselves out. I don’t. Respect that. If a team can’t handle that, you got bigger problems than a sodding team day will fix.