F*ck You, Aunt Flo

It’s 7:30pm. I just ate a bowl of pasta, and am now seriously contemplating eating an entire block of mint Kit Kat chocolate. And I’m riding the crimson wave, bitches, so nothing you can do or say is gonna make me feel shame.

I gotta tell you, I know all women hate getting their monthly subscription to pain and irritability, but I really think I drew the short straw. See, menstruation (and for those of you screwing your nose up in disgust, it’s not a dirty word) is all about baby making. By some flawed design of evolution, the female body is made to create life. Which is fine for those of you who actually want to bring a mewling infant into a world already overcrowded, but what about those of us who don’t want devil spawn?

A friend of mine once said, in a self -admitted moment of mental blankness, that she thought I was so lucky because ‘lesbians don’t get their period’. It was one of those things said without much thought, that had the entire table of our friends in uproarious laughter. I responded with something like “I wish I didn’t! I mean, it’s not like I need my uterus to make a baby, so I don’t think it’s fair I should have to suffer!” And, folks, therein lies my point.

I don’t want children. Despite how often I get told that I’ll change my mind, or that I’m too young to know what I want (I mean come on, really?) or that I ‘just haven’t met the right person yet’, I have not even the slightest hint of maternal instinct. Babies are kind of gross. It’s not their fault, of course, they’re tiny and largely helpless, and they didn’t exactly ask to be thrust into the world. But nevertheless, the desire to have one of my own simply isn’t there. So, I can’t help but feel personally victimised by my uterus every time it decides to punish me for not doing what this fine body of mine was supposedly built for.

If women had a choice, I am certain that not a single one would elect to have a period if they didn’t have to. It’s unpleasant, uncomfortable and, at least in my case, bloody unnecessary. Aching boobs, abdominal cramps, hyper emotionality, mood swings, and let’s not forget the incessant bleeding. It’s just buckets of fun.* But, as fate and unfortunate evolution would have it, those of us born into womanhood have to suffer monthly. Until we don’t bleed anymore, and then we just have menopause to look forward to. I tell you, whoever, or whatever designed the female body has a cruel sense of humor, and a lot to answer for. So, I’m turning to chocolate and wine and my couch for comfort. They might make me chubby, but at least they don’t feel like a tiny man with a chainsaw for one hand, and a jackhammer for the other, hammering and slicing into my midsection for kicks.

Image property of Sarah Anderson

*that was sarcasm. Having your period is not at all fun. It’s a great big bag of dicks. Or…vaginas, if we’re being accurate about it.

First Impressions, and the Doughnut Theory

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I’ve never been good at making friends. I have a tendency to make a bad first impression, you see. I’m too loud, or too forward, or too inappropriate, or too…weird. Sometimes a messy combination of them all. I get anxious around strangers, so I counter it by convincing my brain that I am overly confident and not in the least bit uncomfortable. Hence, making friends has never been my strong suit.

Today I met a woman who works with my friends at a bookshop. I went in to help her with some car key related questions and ended up throwing myself wholeheartedly into ‘hey, I just met you, I’m a little crazy, please don’t judge me, just call me Amy!’ (if you didn’t read that to the tune of Call Me Maybe, go away and think about what you’ve done). She didn’t seem to mind too much, just kinda rolled with it. The people who take my weird in their stride are my favourite kind of people. Though the doughnut probably helped.

See, I have this theory. Doughnuts are a wonderful ice breaker. Because…well, everyone likes doughnuts. And if you don’t, I probably don’t want to be your friend anyway. It’s a good and delicious way to sort out the people you want to be nice to from the people you don’t. And in addition to that, it’s a way to be nice without actually having to do it yourself. Buy a friend (or new friend) a doughnut, and the deliciousness will trick their brains into thinking that you’re nice, with minimal effort on your part. For me, a professional awkward person, being nice or friendly is something I struggle with. As I have explained before, I’m more comfortable spending money than showing any modicum of affection. Yes, I know, I’m broken. That’s not the point. The point is that doughnuts are the solution, to any and every problem (except probably obesity and diabetes and doughnuts allergies and…whatever).

So, I went away, returned with doughnuts for all, and effortlessly thrust myself into the life of a complete stranger without her wanting to run away, or hit me with a broom. Doughnuts will do that. So even if I was too loud, forward, inappropriate or weird (and I’m fairly certain I was all four), I was able to get away with it, without too much judgement. I can’t make a good impression, but I can buy you a doughnut, and that’s kind of the same thing.

Habits of a Modern Day Sewist

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I cleaned my sewing room on the weekend. It has been kind of a shambles for a long time, and I finally got up the motivation to clean it. Honestly, I should have done it sooner. It makes everything so much neater, easier and more relaxing. But as I was tidying, I found myself with two pins in my mouth. I had no use for them, but I had picked them up from the table and they went straight between my lips for…safekeeping? When I actually put them back in the pincushion, it occurred to me that I have all these sewing habits that probably seem really strange to people who don’t sew. So here are a few, to maybe (probably not) help you better understand the habits of a sewing addict.

  1. Obviously, the pins. Now, I will pin something together and as I sew, I will remove them from the fabric. Without fail, the first one I take out will always, always go straight in my mouth. The rest find a happy home stabbed back into the pincushion, but for some reason, I always end up with that first one between my lips. I don’t really know why, but it’s just a habit I’ve always had.
  2. My idea of a leisurely Saturday is going to the local craft/sewing shop and spending time perusing the fabric selection. Whether I have a project or not, I always love to go and have a look. I touch and smell the fabric and more often than not, impulsively buy it because I am weak willed when it comes to pretty things. Which brings me to my next point.
  3. Some people go to the supermarket for one thing and come out with ten; that’s me in a fabric shop. Even if I go for a shop with no real purpose in mind, there are few times that I leave without a bag full of things I wasn’t initially going to buy. Fabric and elastic and ribbon and thread, pins and buttons and interfacing and dye…the list really is endless.
  4. Sewing in my underwear. This is usually for convenience, honestly. Plus, I hate wearing pants and it’s not like I live with anyone. But if I’m making something for myself, I need to be able to try it on and make sure all my measurements are correct, and see whether I need to tweak or tuck something. It’s just easier to do it in my underwear because then I’m not taking things off and putting them back on and taking them off again a billion times in a sewing session.
  5. Calling myself a ‘sewist’. Technically, sewist isn’t a real word. It’s not in the dictionary, and the little red line keeps coming up under it every time I type it, reminding me of that fact. But the correct term is sewer, and don’t try and tell me that when you read that then, your thoughts didn’t immediately jump to toilets and manky pipes filled with bodily waste. Hence, I get to use a made up word when referring to myself in regards to my sewing skills.
  6. Being oddly affectionate towards my sewing machine and overlocker. I know they have no feelings, or brains and that talking to them makes me seem like a madwoman. But they work hard, and without them, I would be sitting there sewing by hand so I think they deserve affectionate pats and words of encouragement/thanks. Don’t judge me. The machines are my friends.
  7. Scouring Pinterest for ideas, writing them all down and then making none of them. Pinterest is like my drug of choice. I can’t get enough of it, constantly looking up new things to make and create. Some of them I have tried my hand at, others are still firmly stuck in the ‘will get around to…eventually’ pile. But there is a world of creativity out there, and it’s always good to find motivation and inspiration for the days when my own brain comes up with nothing.
  8. Check people out, not because they’re good looking, but because I want to try and determine if I can replicate what they’re wearing. This is a habit I only got into over the last year, as my sewing skills improved. More than once, I have been caught out staring intensely at people like some kind of creepy weirdo, when all I’m doing is mentally working out how difficult it would be to make their outfits. Mental note; be more subtle.
  9. Hoard fabric. I am not a hoarder, except when it comes to sewing materials. I have so much scrap fabric floating around my sewing room, on the off chance that I might need it for something. When I cleaned the other day, I finally had to reconcile with the fact that those off cuts and remnants I had been saving are useless, and taking up precious space I could be using to store proper lengths of fabric. Even though it pained me a little, I threw them out…though give me another few weeks and I’m sure I will have built the collection back up.
  10. Forgetting to eat because I’m too engrossed in my current project. This is a bad habit, I’ll admit. Often times I get so in the zone that before I know it, I’ve been sewing for four hours straight, and my stomach is making bizarre noises that could be easily mistaken for Star Wars special effects. Good for productivity, bad for energy levels and, y’know, survival.

Some of these habits may seem strange, but it is these things that make being a sewist (there it is again) so much fun. And with that in mind, I am going to go and…get on Pinterest and search for cool things to do with scraps of fabric! Sew long, friends! (eh? Eh? Hilarious)

Impulse and Strings

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Do you ever just do something completely on impulse, without giving it any forethought or adding in any logic? Of course you do, you’re human (one presumes), and unless you’re incredibly unadventurous or, like, exceedingly prudent, there is a chance you’ve done something completely spur of the moment at least once in your life. Yesterday, I did one of those impulsive things. I bought a violin.

Now, if you read my blog regularly, you will know that I own a guitar and still only know how to play two chords. I have had my guitar for almost twelve months now, and most of the time it sits against the wall and stares at me forlornly, longing for me to play with it. Only when I’m not insanely busy doing other things, and have the motivation to practice, do I pick it up and try to play. And then there’s the ukulele (yet another impulse purchase, actually). I bought it a few months back because a) it was cheap, b) it was red and c) I figured that with only four strings, it would be easier to learn and play. And then that, like the guitar, sat against the wall, where it remains to this day doing nothing except be really vividly red.

Evidently, when it comes to impulsively purchasing string instruments, I have approximately no control. And so the instrument family keeps growing, and so does my guilt at neglecting them. It’s probably a good thing that I never have any intention of having children. Now, logic states that I should learn to play one of the instruments that I already own before I try and learn a new one. But alas, as with my penchant for buying more books instead of reading the stack on my shelf, I similarly suffer from an inability to say no to buying things that I might onedayeventuallymaybeifI’mnotbusy get around to. The thing is, I have all these grand notions of never working in retail again, and living off a career of making things and creating stuff, and writing, and playing in a fabulously wonderful band. But my problem is that the Elegant Fox is still early days, and my writing is a somewhat stunted process and, whilst I am not a terribly bad singer, I am actually not instrumentally talented in the least.

So, to be honest, a new violin is a not entirely clever use of money I could probably be spending on other more important, less impulsive things. Like buying a new car for instance. But they’re such pretty instruments, and you don’t understand, I need it. Plus, in my defence, a close friend of mine does actually teach the violin and has promised to take me on as a student. So, if I actually have someone to help me in the early stages, there is a higher likelihood that I’ll actually put in the effort to learn. That’s how it works, right?

In any case, it should get delivered next week, so we’ll know soon enough how this newest venture into musical creativity will fare!

Amy and The 40c Gas Bill

I’ve always made a bit of a joke about not cooking. My dad and my brother, and my best friends all make that same joke. But it wasn’t until I received a gas bill for 40c that I realised exactly how slack I am in the kitchen.

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It’s not that I can’t cook. I can. I just prefer not to. This is partly to do with the fact that, despite my creativity with a pen or a sewing machine, I am completely lacking in the ability to decide on something to cook. The other part of the reason is that I am, to my detriment, ridiculously lazy. I know, it’s a terrible trait. But I get home, after spending my entire day in a noisy shopping centre, surrounded by screaming children and dealing with jerk customers, and the last thing I want to do is stress myself out in the kitchen.

My best friend loves to cook. He often tells me how he finds it calming. I’m the exact opposite. The minute I set foot in my kitchen, I get overwhelmed and stressed out and then nothing goes the way I planned. And, without word of a lie, I’ve cooked a whole bunch of times in the new house and not once have I managed to do so without setting off the smoke alarm. I guarantee my neighbours are always fully aware of every time I cook.

Still, my unwillingness to cook, and lack of any great ability in the kitchen does have a few merits. Firstly, I go around to my dad’s house most nights a week for dinner and that means I still get to chill and watch movies with him. Secondly, don’t make a lot of dishes! And then there’s that 40c gas bill. (honestly, how the hell does one get a gas bill that small?!)

I would make a terrible housewife. Sure, I can clean like a boss and I bake pretty well but when it comes to cooking? Sorry, future partner (pffft!), but you’re shit out of luck!

Pretending to be an Adult; Refrigerator Edition

I’m doing a pretty good job of pretending I’m an adult. I have recently gotten a second job, I own (and paid for) my car, I live on my own, I pay all my bills, do my own washing and…sometimes cook my own dinner. At a glance, anyone would think I am a fully functioning member of society. And then they look in my fridge. And all the illusions are shattered.

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My house is small, and my fridge is small to accommodate. But when you open it, it looks rather like a vast, cavernous space, large enough to comfortably fit a family of ten. The contents of my refrigerator are pretty dismal, really. Two eggs, a half carton of milk, half a packet of crumpets and a third of a tub of butter. An unopened bottle of mineral water, a small container of peach slices, a jar of olives and various vegetables going slowly bad in the crisper. My freezer just holds large quantities of bread, because I keep buying more and forgetting I have plenty, which is a bit ridiculous for someone who doesn’t actually eat bread all that much.

I once laughed at my brother for having a similar fridge situation, despite living out of home for two years. Well, brother, the joke is on me now. Nearly two months on my own and I still haven’t learnt to properly stock a pantry or a refrigerator. In my defence, my pantry is less an actual pantry, and more just a little set of wicker shelves shoved against the wall, so there’s really not a lot of storage room. But even still, I often forget about the so called ‘essentials’ in favour of things that are yummy and on sale. I mean, I have a constant supply of chocolate in my house, and yet only last week did I think to buy salt and pepper. That’s bad enough, but I really I have no excuse where the fridge is concerned. I mean, I often tell people how independent I am, and yet more and more I think I still need some adult supervision. It’s time to confess; despite appearances, I actually have no idea what I’m doing.

I envy those people who do their shopping and come home to fully stock their pantries and fridges. The people who don’t have to spend an entire day trying to decide on something for dinner, only to get lazy and settle for packet pasta and juice drunk straight from the bottle. If there’s any out there who are successfully navigating adulthood – and know how to stock a fridge – please feel free to throw some tips at me. Or, y’know, even some suggestions for dinner!

Unlucky in Life

My life is chaotic. Partly because I’m pretty much always busy, but mostly because I am a combination of clumsy and unlucky. My constant misfortune is a veritable fountain of amusement for my friends, who I often regale with my tales of woe. I have fallen down steps and accidentally flashed my panties to strangers. I have walked into and tripped over everything under the sun. I have said stupid things. I have slapped complete strangers on the bum, mistaking them for friends. I often tell my best friend that my life is like a bad comedy. You know those movies where the protagonist is always getting themselves into sticky, tricky, awkward situations? Yeah, that’s my life.

Like the other day, I started my training for zips on shoes, a particularly difficult and fiddly job that requires patience (which I have very little of) and concentration (which I can, oooh, shiny!). So I attempted to attach the new zip to the shoe. I placed the zip, lined it up and stitched it in, but unfortunately missed half the lining. So I went back and did it again, taking extra care this time to stitch ALL the lining. When I was finished, I was so happy with myself…until I realised I had been so concerned with the lining, that I had forgotten the pertinent step of actually putting the zip in. I couldn’t help but laugh at my foolishness, though I don’t think my boss was as amused. And thus began my third attempt.

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Today was weird. I was in a bizarrely good mood, happily engaging customers in friendly conversation. The multitudes of screaming children didn’t even seem to bother me…quite as much. The strange part is that today was incredibly unlucky. I banged my knee twice on my bed. I tripped down my front steps. I took the lid off my hot chocolate and spilled it everywhere. I dropped my keys countless times. A customer took something the wrong way and got offended, and when I proceeded to explain what I had meant, she intentionally insulted and embarrassed me out of spite. And then, to top it all off, on the way back from the post office, some an idiot drove into my lane, forced me to swerve and nearly caused an accident. And naturally, while I sat in my car near the tree I almost hit, hyperventilating in shock, the bastard just drove away. Suffice to say, today was not my day.

And yet, strangely unperturbed, I carried on. This is not always the case. More often than not, a bad day will send me to bed in angry frustration, where I will hide under my covers in sullen fury, cursing the universe and everyone in it. But sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself and move on. I mean, when you’re as unlucky as I am, you can’t take yourself too seriously. So now, with the bad day well and truly behind me, and still in surprisingly high spirits, I am going to curl up on the couch with a blanket and some TV. I can’t possibly do any harm by sitting down! (at least I hope I can’t…)

Doing Relaxation Wrong

Do you ever just want to turn your brain off? There are times when I wish I could take my brain out, lock it away in a case and shut it away in the cupboard for a few days. Which is kind of a strange image, now that I think about it. But still!

There are a lot of things going on in my head. Good things, bad things, mad things. Always, things. And sometimes, it gets tiring. I’m constantly on the go, forever getting distracted by things I’ve remembered I have do. I need to think of something for tea and plan my time and clean my house and run my errands (and probably everyone else’s while I’m at it) and write and sew and practice guitar and…ALL the things! If I sleep in on the weekend, I feel like I haven’t been productive and I start to feel angry at myself for wasting time in bed that I could have spent doing something else. Yeah, I’m that guy.

My problem is that I don’t know how to relax, and I’m in an almost constant state of restlessness. Even now, I’m writing this blog only because I quickly lost interest in the movie I was watching and I haven’t posted in a couple of days. Since it’s too cold to move from the heater to sew and I’m not inspired to write properly, I have two options. I could fall asleep on the couch or I could blog. Obviously, the latter won out.

My best friend is constantly on me about having a bath. Unlike his house, mine actually has a bath and he is outraged by the fact that I haven’t used it in the entire month I’ve been in my house. Why? Well, partly because the back of my house is creepy at night and the door doesn’t close and I’m paranoid about axe murderers bursting in through my back door and butchering me to death while I’m nude. If I’m gonna die, I wanna go out with some dignity, y’know? But also, I have this weird rule about not having a bath if I have to get up and go to work in the morning. Like my relaxation period is timed and limited, so I can’t really enjoy it. Amy logic, at it’s finest.

And it’s not just the bath thing, or my refusal to sleep in. It’s even rare for me to just chill on the couch. Despite often proclaiming my inability to multitask (not a real woman, you understand), I’m actually kind of awesome at it. Watch a movie and paint my nails. Bake cupcakes and cookies at the same time. Read and drink tea…oh, hey maybe I can do relaxing things after all!

Perhaps there is something inherently wrong with me, that I would rather burn myself out doing stuff than take a few hours and do nothing…at least nothing that requires effort anyway. Maybe I just spent too long living with my dad, and developed his inability to sit and chill. Either way, as a perfectly timed text message just confirmed, I think I need to learn the art of relaxing. If I can just calm the constant hurricane of thoughts in my head, I might be less inclined to want to remove my pesky brain. In any case, relaxing would be the less painful (and bloody) option.

With that in mind, I’m going to go and make a cup of tea and determinedly finish this film…without painting my nails or updating my Facebook page or anything else resembling productive multitasking. I can do this…I think!

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My memoir.