Small Steps.

New Year’s Resolutions, and everyone’s thinking about how bad the year before was blah blah and how they ate too much, or gained weight, didn’t overachieve, soooo….decided to look at what I did do before I even thought about giving myself a whole new bunch of expectations to meet and spiral into a matrix of self-deprecation.

  1. I learnt to stop being embarrassed-This particular one was really difficult. I’m an anxious person, and I’m an easily embarrassed person. Because of a combination of the two I worry a lot about what people think of me. I do really dumb things an awful lot, and stick my foot in everything as if the world was made of quick sand, so this particular goal was of paramount importance for me to fix. I did this in a few ways. First of all, I got a job I knew I wasn’t naturally accustomed to. I worked in a themed american bowling alley as a Server and given my natural gifted clumsiness, poor balance and awkward-as-shit demeanour knew this would be like watching a camel pulling Santa’s sleigh.  I knew I would be uncomfortable for at least the first month and I’d do endless amounts of spilling things and almost killing people with my pure presence as a walking liability. However, after knocking down tray-full’s of wine glasses and a small child throwing a whole chocolate milkshake over me I learnt to take myself a hell of a lot less seriously and also realised that every one makes little mistakes. The result was 4 months of working with the nicest people on the planet and my now suave ability to carry a tray without lacerating my arm with a broken Martini glass.
  2. I learnt to put myself out there- This one is a natural progression from my first achievement. I’ve always been very insecure about matching up to people around me and in University when swarms of people are interning all over the show it’s easy to feel inadequate. Additionally, it’s frustrating to see people doing things you’re perfectly capable of doing and realising the only barrier is an ability to put yourself out there, when the only real risk is rejection. I did two things. I’ve always loved music. I play guitar, I play saxophone, the little less sexed up Clarinet and sing (at a contentious quality but nonetheless). I have never wanted a career in music, it is something I do for me and no one else in particular. It’s a hobby but regardless I’ve always wanted to know if I was god awful and my parents just appeased me with positive feedback or if I was acceptable at what I do. So, I booked an audition for “the voice” (laugh all you want) and when I got my audition date decided that if I was off work that day I would go and if I wasn’t off, I simply wouldn’t. Well. I got the day off, I went with an I-Pod and no real expectations had the best day ever, met so many nice people and felt amazing. Got through a few rounds (ahh yeeee) and although you won’t be seeing me on the TV any time soon I learnt to have faith in my abilities and confidence that there are experiences for me out there if I’m willing to just put myself out there.
  3. Sometimes you only need to ask- The second aspect I mentioned above also relates to putting yourself out there but in a different way. It’s to do with those pesky Internships. I have been to…more interviews for Internships than I care to admit. And have had next to no luck. It’s pretty disheartening, and you tell yourself it’s fine maybe there was just a massive quantity of submissions and candidates “it is London after all”. I knew people were utilising their connections and while this really bothered me I knew that I would do the same if possible. I kept remembering “all I can do is ask and they can say no” so I approached a parliamentarian I knew of and in a heartfelt way just…asked and presented what I had to offer as honestly and arrogantly as I could (tehe) and low and behold something has come from it. I don’t feel that I have cheated anyone or anything like that, regardless of the ease it happened with. I truly believe just by asking and letting someone make a decision based on the information I presented them with I gave myself a fair chance. Sometimes you only need to ask.
  4. A relationship is not an indicator of your self worth-  I was really surprised this year. It’s final year and the discourse is of…”is he out there” or “oh no I’m final year I need to get married”. Honest to God. I was so guilty in years gone by of fixating on being a pair, idiotically really, that I forgot on developing myself to the best I can be. AND NO. I am not a proponent of “No one can love you until you learn to love yourself”. There are lovely people everywhere, hundreds, and..thousands.. I don’t feel particularly worried  about this aspect which is positive. It would be nice but I’m not going to be instagram posting with a Valencia filter “#RelationshipGoals: I really want a relationship where we can act like idiots, pick each others noses and dance in traffic”. Basically moral of the story is.. You are perfectly fine on your own if that is your current status. Another person can be wonderful to have as an addition in your life but don’t have someone for the sake of it, because settling is not you preventing yourself being robbed of company, you’re robbing yourself of something totally amazing- and y’all know it’s coming your way some way or another. Wow 2015 is making me sentimental.

SO.. After realising all my growth and achievement, which everyone needs to do… what do I want? I said I’d never do new years resolutions because I’m flaky and have a severe lack of self control when it comes to carbohydrates… but

Shortly.

  1. I want to figure out the career I want for me, and not for any other reason, and plan how to get there.
  2. I want to surround myself with people who are on my side and not against me. Positive individuals who put more in my pot of happiness than out of it. 
  3. I want to finally understand what the “Lacanian Real” is because I’ve read an awful lot about it and I just don’t get it.
  4. I want to increase my book collection by 100% and read books I don’t have to retain information from. That I read just because.
  5. I want to help make a difference to someone else. Even if it is just one person and they only remember one thing I say. 
  6. I want to be renting my own flat… hopefully in London, and keep up the dream! But always remember where I came from and the interesting smells of Strangford Lough. 
  7. I’d like to meet someone who meets the description “relatively normal male”. 
  8. I will accept plans change and if the 7 above aspirations do not happen, not let them define me nor my happiness. 

I guess this is the most self-obsessed post I’ve ever written and these are stereotypical wishes to an extent but I want to base the success of the new year on life milestones and normative matters rather than how much weight I plan on losing or buying a chanel handbag. My successes in 2014 may seem insignificant to many but to me they show I have come a long way, and if my 8 points don’t happen in one year I can copy and paste this and change the date to 2016, if I’m spared.

Small steps.

You’ve been framed

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Hey, yeah. There’s me up there. The one with the specs, or “Yo, Speccy” as I remember one man on an escalator in Westfield shouting at me.

I’m not sure to this day if it was an insult or a term of endearment but nonetheless if you’ve been an almost lifelong glasses wearer you’ll know the trials that come with this through school and your social life. In combination with my once bright ginger hair (also used to get “Nicole Carrot”) it doesn’t fare for an easy ride. So, as I’ve gotten a little older and through discovering I can’t touch, or anyone else for that matter, my eyeball at all without a pretty violent reaction to try contact lenses, I’ve had to learn how to work glasses into a fact of my visual appearance. To me, getting new glasses is like getting a brand new hair cut and every time I do I feel utterly refreshed and ready to start a new look all over again. Given that i’ve always been an avid follower (but unfortunately not buyer as I’m a poor as hell student in London) of fashion, I was pretty elated to find out one of my favourite fashion photographers Scott Schuman started a photography collaboration this year with eye-wear designer Luxottica.

If you don’t know him by that particular name, you might know him by his world famous fashion blog “The Sartorialist” which I have pretty much obsessed over since I was about 16. What makes this so amazing is that his wonderful way of scouting out interesting individuals with interesting style will be transferred exclusively toward finding cool and creative people to capture how they wear optics. The name of the collaboration is “FACES by the Sartorialist”, which also is really apt because people totally underestimate the ability of glasses to transform an individuals face in a positive way (although I may be biased as a result of my extra two eyes). Rather than seeing specs as a burden, something to taunt people about or a weakness in ability, why not start to see glasses as a part of someones unique persona and what that does for their particular look? Even better, at how their frames frame their face.

It happened with the gingers. Now it’s happening with glasses. We’re officially back in fashion.

*I do not claim to have any photography skills whatsoever and the only editing done to that poorly focused mess is an instagram filter. Sorry Scott. 

Funny Girl

I seem to be making all sorts of life connections with movies this week. My productivity levels regarding university work are utterly out the window, only this time because I can’t stop singing the soundtrack of the Barbara Streisand hit “Funny Girl”. As an appendage to my account of Tinderella throwing off both glass slippers at the ball and running out the door, I contemplate if being a funny girl really does make”life candy and the sun a ball of butter”. Well Babs, I can’t decide if my parade is being rained all over (maybe someone will get the reference- please?) or if I’m okay with the kinda persona I seem to have picked up among certain circles. How does life in practice as the funny girl play out?

If you’ve ever seen the movie, great-it’s wonderful. If not- watch it, it’ll change your life.

A young Fanny Brice (yes Fanny, before it picked up all those lurid connotations) falls in love with Nicky Arnstein. She’s feisty and  an absolute hoot who charms Nicky with her humour and brazen attitude to life. We follow her journey as she ascends from chorus girl to Broadway star. She’s certainly not a girl’s girl. She’s rough around the edges and everything she does is hysterical in some way, intentional or otherwise. I’m not the melodic diva she is nor half as attractive,but watching it I felt a lot of similarities in how I’m perceived in terms of relationships and my social life. I’ve been told on numerous occasions, “Nicole, you know what. You make me laugh when you don’t even mean to be funny” by my ladies. And from the male compadres (of a romantic nature) “Nicole, there’s no one quite like you”. And although this would seem a welcome compliment , I know that it’s a synonym for hysterical really. I’ve learnt this over time.

At first in all this I was glad someone thought I was funny. I finally had a word that could be attached officially to a description of “me”. With friends, it makes you feel secure in knowing they’ll always keep you for comedic factor, and in some capacity you’re not readily replaceable. In day-to-day life, it can be a little frustrating. The moments in class discussion where you come out with what you think is a fairly insignificant one liner, and everyone laughs. You think to yourself, am I failing to observe some basic rules of social etiquette that everyone else is in on? Am I just really funny? Do I look funny? Is something on my face? And when you move beyond situations where you’re just dying to be taken seriously like a discussion on politics (funnily enough a prerequisite for participation in my degree) you hit a totally new set of frustrations in relationships.

When you have a talent to present a constant lax attitude to life’s trials and tribulations (whilst harbouring the secret/or not so secret if you know me, that your mind runs at a 100mph), combined with an innate ability to make most grim scenarios light hearted, you’ll know when you try to express how mad you are it rarely is communicated. Especially to a partner in which you’ll get a variation of responses. “You’re so cute when you’re mad” or failing that…they’ll merely laugh. It really is a double edged sword being the “funny” one.

But for now if i’m keeping everyone entertained, much to my class debating detriment, I’m okay with being the funny girl.

Tinderella.

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Thibault, 21

-“21 year old city worker. Love to travel and looking for fun. Are you my #tinderella?”

Well… Thibault, I feel that’s pretty unlikely. For one, the likelihood is if you’re in anyway attractive you’ll have the charisma of a gnat and a conversation ability making someone feel similar to sitting across from an eating Ed Miliband at a fast food restaurant. If on the other end of the spectrum you’re a pretty unassuming fellow you might progress through conversation in a normal manner until you hit the third date, send a spooky facebook relationship request and post a picture of you and me at Nandos, claiming you’re with “Bae”. Whilst these are huge generalisations, they are the norm I have came across in my unfortunate escapades throughout the Tinder wilderness.

This will actually be the first Carrie Bradshaw-esque blog, ever. And I regret the fact it’s come to this as I claimed I would never fall into the trap of being a self-indulgent blogger who starts an article with something like..

“I looked out the window, onto the busy winding roads of London, my scented yankee candle flickering in the backdrop. He hadn’t called..”

However, having just hooked myself up once more to the dating life support machine that is tinder I am just astounded at the situations I have faced, and the utter disrespect and disloyalty of a hopefully minute proportion of the male population. At first I thought oh it must be only those that are a little socially challenged, or failing that really very frustrated in their lower regions,coming out of this worm-riddled wood work. However, much to my dismay after gross message after gross message I discovered the multitude were made from singularities ranging from high fliers with money perhaps just not time to meet people to.. you know what I mean, to those with too much time and clearly spent an awful lot of time in bed (it was irrespective if they had money or not…) and on top of that a mixture of everyone in between. Some nice, some odd, some crude or crass. But no, it was not just the “weird” that I had assumed made up those coming out to “rep” the male community of London in a largely vile manner, but a mix of everyone from your banker to your barman. Naturally after numerous disaster dates I was feeling a little dismayed, hoping this wasn’t what I faced for the rest of my relationship seeking life. Given that I had only ever went on tinder to put myself back out there, and if anything indulge in the trend almost everyone was doing, I don’t write this with a heavy heart. I feel I can laugh about it all.

Post-coming out of quite an…interesting tinder relationship (massively short lived) the whole occasion conveyed to me that there is most definitely a gap in the natural magnetism when first contact is made remotely and at distance, finding the spark was on a scale of strange to non existent… I found there was something like a sense of audio delay, the lip sync didn’t match the sound just like the typing of keys didn’t match the actual physical reality of growing to know someone, there and then. It also made me make up a little list of tick boxes when I swiped and spoke to “matches” which only recently I realised was created only relative to the types I had encountered through poor misfortune (the gross, the bad and the outright horny) and not within my usual bounds of judgement. I found myself not engaging in that every day filter, of what I knew was right and wasn’t right for me, when on this really odd app (when you think about the concept).

Basically, after a multitude of dates with those with dishonest intentions, their own demons they were seeking to rebound from and those who just didn’t realise i’d come wearing 4 inch boots making me a whole foot taller than them, it’s time to call it quits. I’m not saying there isn’t lovely or genuine people on tinder. There are, and the people I’ve known have been lovely (most) in their own ways, or clearly just very misguided but I hold hope that the behaviour exhibited is hopefully an opportunity to hide behind a surnameless screen and keyboard. Nonetheless, I just think the whole experience was a reality check. I guess the message for me, and others, is if there are genuine and lovely men on tinder…meet these genuine, and lovely people, on the street, when you bump into them in a bar or catch eyes when you’re reaching for the same book at Waterstones? It may be a little idealistic, but the whole while something told me

it doesn’t happen like this, girl. 

On the other hand, tell me if I’m wrong… Could love at first swipe, be love at first sight?

But she’s a real phony..

“You’re wrong. She is a phony. But on the other hand you’re right. She isn’t a phony because she’s a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes. You can’t talk her out of it.”

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

When you move to London you’re confronted with the widest scope of characters imaginable. The quiet reserved bookish types, the arty farty to the hippy dippy and the downright bizarre. When I saw all these people I was in awe at how unique and off the charts they were, both  impressed at their “out-there” way of thinking and absolute disregard for how they are perceived. As if it were all really just for them. But once the first glimpse of the untouchable individuals had passed, and I looked for longer than a glance, the dream, so to speak, started to collapse (a little like inception)- a dream within a dream within a dream. Layers and layers of something that did not stick.

Thinking of one case, as I got to unravel this one particular individual, I was amazed at what I thought was a natural charisma, a raw magnetism all as a result of looking and sounding as if they’ve stepped from a world decades ago, their air of you don’t know me and never will, multi-faceted exterior and utter lack of gravity toward THIS reality. But, I became to see the situation for what it was. An impeccably constructed image, but barely even an image it ran much deeper than appearance; an idea. Through voice, and senses and attire, the pauses between their spoken words- each carefully thought out so as to exude a breathy sumptuousness that none is born with; that part should have at least been apparent.

Stumbling upon the reality of what they WERE as opposed to what they had formulated, I could not buy into it any longer. However, whether this was my own issues or not, I began to question the line between being inspired by the movies you love, the music you listen to, the way it makes you feel, the places you’ve been and how you want to completely embody the essence of these things…and question the line between inspiration and transformation of the self. What this train of thought brought me to was an apt quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A Truman Capote line I never really understood until I was confronted with it’s message- ” the real phony”.

As intertwined as the whole thought process became, and as unsure as I was if I was just getting stuck in a line of thought that was irrelevant whatever it’s outcome, I wondered if we were all real phony’s. Whilst I had always thought we were influenced by our likes and loves, I now questioned if my whole persona, much like the phony I had so unforgivingly dissected, was as carefully constructed as theirs. Had I missed that I had been articulating every taste and passion verbally to others, through my appearance and pictures, only to add to an exterior image and perception I wished others to gain of me? Furthermore, were those typically handsome bearded men, the coffee drinkers, the bookish types that I had lusted over (and still do really) as some romantic “idea” been an “idea” themselves? Was anyone a true reflection of themselves, because of just loving the things they loved… without becoming them? And in fact…was this even possible?

Nonetheless, why did it matter if I, or they, were a phony…

because in the end, at least they’re a real phony?

Nights out that never happened.

A group of friends sit in a bustling bar. It’s a birthday, they look their best and everyone can see it. Not the people there with them in the bar, no their phone contacts, their Instagram followers, your most snapped. Through eyes of their fellow punters they are a group with added artificial appendages strapped to their hands where bright flashes and risen arms catch moments in videos and pictures. These are the nights out that never happen.

The Social Network generation have gone beyond mere phones in hands during conversations and social events. An accelerating pressure beyond the need to be in know, in the loop and not missing out has been replaced with the need for everyone to be absolutely sure that you’re having a good time, even if in the process you’re missing the whole experience of being there. Rather than chat with friends, and experience BEING, the disposition of the twenty something’s “living” the best years of their carefree lives must be sure that everyone is seeing them. How they look, what their friends are saying, the 20 photos taken before leaving the house resulting in missing the last 20 minutes of happy hour, wondering how in all this uploaded calamity there was a moment of pause where they could wish a friend happy birthday, ingest the burger they added four filters on, on instagram or drank the 2 for 1 cocktail they pose coyly with in a hashtagged image.

I wonder if this is to do with the rise of the tinder fad, the confirmed actuality that this world is a competitive one for love and attention purely based on looks. But not just your aesthetics. Your constructed image, the places you go, what you eat who you know, what your friends look like, what you look like. The question is no longer one for most of capturing memories. It is an advertisement, a billboard of you, looking for accreditation. These pressures are real, they are understandable.

However, next time you realise you have a 110 second snapstory of your friends awkwardly smiling as the camera rotates around the table capturing faces lit up by bright phones while life continues around you,

is it a memory of a night out that never happened?….

In case you didn’t know.. I’m ginger.

Okay. So upon typing “ginger” into the Facebook search box here’s a few links that come up.

“Always be yourself. Unless you’re ginger, then be someone else.”

“Not paying child support because your kid’s a ginger.”

I’m not taking all these kind of groups thick, but when is the world going to get over their infantile view of a hair colour? I can take a joke, but I find it genuinely laughable when the only type of insult someone can yell at me is “Oi, Ginger!” Has no one noticed that this has basically been the YEAR of the red heads? Here’s a few to name.

Here’s Emma Stone for one who is absolutely rocking the Red Head look despite being a natural blonde. Might I also add she was voted sexiest actress of 2011 by Victoria’s Secret.

Another one. Nicola Roberts, after ditching the fake tan and going all out pale, has catapulted into a maybe not thriving, but a “getting there”, solo career in addition to launching a gorgeous new make up range “dainty doll” for fair skinned girls. She is quickly transforming into a prominent “Belle” of the fashion world, accumulating chums such as Henry Holland and the likes, AND absolutely bombing every glitzy event she attends.

Last but DEFINITELY not least is my absolute idol. For every aspiring ginger fashionista (hate that word but nevermind) there is no one else more worthy to look to than Miss Florence Welch. If you are looking for unique style indulged in vintage hedonism, with lace, velvet and every other risky fabric combination in one, but nonetheless a style that just WORKS, look no further than this fiery haired songstress. I’m getting carried away with it here but she is the reason I haven’t given in to the taunts of nasty 12 year old’s calling me all sorts that rhyme with “ginge” (really where do they learn this nowadays?) and dyed my hair.  Most recent Muse to the man himself Karl Lagerfeld, she is one-of-a-kind, and the ideal figure head for all GINGERS alike.

So for anyone who does get a lot of agro for being ginger, two fingers in the air to them my chums! You have the best hair colour out and don’t you forget it. When all your friends have gone grey, the odds are that you’ll have clung onto your precious colourful locks for a few years longer, and they’ll be going to the hairdressers to try and find a shade of auburn to cover their greys!

Love Nicole X.

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