Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Weekend List: No. 20

Images: Lee Kang-Hyo, a rug from Aelfie's Instagram, Ethiopian coffee via Tangerine and Cinnamon, Toby Glanville. 

It's Sunday! I'm especially happy because it's my day off and I can work my way through the miscellaneous pile of possessions still spread out in the dining room after I moved house two weeks ago. I started my day with a perfectly soft boiled egg and listened to Pet Sounds after watching Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy this week. It's raining, so I can't hang my washing on the line; what July is this?

Culture

Sex
  • "It’s a social expectation for many of us because we have inherited a legacy of kissing celebrated through art and literature and amplified over time." What's in a kiss?
Food
  • My new favourite blog, Tangerine and Cinnamon, surveying the history and culture of food, with killer reading lists. 

Style
  • Vibrant rugs, pillows and homewares from Aelfie

Listening
  • Tame Impala's new album is so good. I've had The Less I Know The Better on repeat, and it contains the lyric "she was holding hands with Trevor, not the greatest feeling ever." *Thumbs up*

Friday, June 26, 2015

Two songs



Two super duper songs. The video for Camille's Au Port feels like pulling a 2002 copy of i-D Magazine from a shelf; spaghetti straps and white lycra on a beach, while Shadow of Blood by Lena Platonos would surely soundtrack the sexy, dangerous bar scene on a Greek Island from a Patricia Highsmith-esque crime novel. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Current Mood



Current mood: HAVING A JOB AGAIN (and one which allows me to write in the afternoons and have nice conversations with members of the public.) Listening to I Like by Tink, consistently wearing open toe sandals with neon nail polish, having a really nice guy in my life who, among other things, helps me make sense of my private tenant rights, and is down with me sometimes dribbling drinking water down my own chin for comic effect. Continuing to feel sad that I can't pick up the phone for a catch-up with my Granny, attaching lots of emotion to the novelty of the clothes that still smell of her (and won't for much longer), enjoying the ongoing process of cherishing her possessions and reading her old books. The feeling of summer, of warmer, tanned skin and the pavements smelling like July is just around the corner. Of wanting to buy new clothes, and making moodboards in lieu of spending. Feeling like my actual age has matched up with how I've felt in my head for a long time, feeling in the moment but also understanding (and learning to be okay with) the fragility of that contentment. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Weekend List: No. 19

Happy Weekend! A mini, and somewhat 'Unintentional Nostalgia Special' edition of The Weekend List, because the things I've been reading and consuming tell me I've subconsciously been in a retrospective teenage sort of a mood this week. 

Clockwise from top left: Zoe and Ian C Rogers, Alice Tye, Take The Skinheads Bowling (Bill Mather for The Modernist), films referenced in films. 

  • "Rogers is skating through the streets of Santa Monica, Zoe standing on the front of his board. Zoe splits her time between her parents 50-50. On the days when Rogers drops her off at school, the other kids watch Zoe get off his board and tell her how cool her brother is." How a 40-Year-Old Skater Is Bringing The Punk Credo to Digital Music is a 2012 profile on Ian C Rogers (now a Senior Director at Apple Music) but also a cool chronicle of a Dad-daughter relationship and growing up with young parents, which is something I also experienced. (Though for me this involved more pasta and pesto and less touring with the Beastie Boys.) Zoe Rogers' show 'Zoe Radio' was the first podcast I listened from 2004 after reading about her in ElleGirl's 'Badass of the Month' feature. I listened to on iTunes and on my metallic green iPod, heard Brendan Benson and Don't You Worry 'About A Thing by Stevie Wonder for the first time, and in my pre-blog world I thought it was very cool indeed that I was able to listen to a teenager like myself broadcasting live from a radio show from Los Angeles. 
  • "I debate whether to keep reading the Sally Mann memoir, but instead I look at couches on Craiglist, which turns into looking up wooden chairs. It has been raining for hours." I really liked Jessica Hopper's Enormous Eye diary entry.
  • "She had a great wardrobe and a cool job as a journalist (no joke, she had a reporter’s notebook and a news desk). And she had a pretty hot sex life. It involved a lot of plastic dry-humping." Hang on, was everybody else play-acting sex with their Barbies too? My Barbies Had So Much Sex. It Was Great.

Snacks

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Weekend List: No. 18

Clockwise from top left: Ariel Finch, Gareth from The Office, Posh and Sporty photograph via eBay memorabilia store.

Culture

  • "One thing I did find hard to chronicle was the strange effect this all had on my sense of myself as a continuous subject. For many months, coming out and changing my name seemed like a major rupture: having people refer to me differently and treat me differently felt far more sudden than anything that later happened to my body." He to She by Juliet Jacques.
  • "They thought they were building a classroom, and it turned into a bank." Net of Insecurity: the first in The Washington Post's series about the internet's vulnerable flaws and why they may never be fixed. Note: miraculously WP hasn't created a page for the series, so you'll have to root for yourself.
  • "I read and try to follow politics because it gives me a different kind of courage. It’s the same courage I get from reading poetry or experiencing art: there is another way of existing outside of the safety that you know already... I don’t want to feel too safe." I went to see Jenny Hval perform this week. Having known very little about her, I am now fascinated, listening to her latest album over and over and seeking out interviews.
  • “You need to prepare sneak attacks on society. Hairspray is the only really devious movie I ever made: the musical based on it is being performed in practically every high school in America, and nobody seems to notice it’s a show with two men singing a love song to each other, that also encourages white teenage girls to date black guys. Pink Flamingoes was preaching to the converted, but Hairspray is a Trojan horse.” A cut-out-and-keep: Life Lessons from John Waters.

Style
  • Ariel Finch, who has the coolest name, a taste for homoerotic cowboys and whose Tumblr is always leading me to press open link in new tab.

Snacks

>>Not done yet? You can peruse The Weekend List archive here.<<

Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Weekend List: No. 17

Images: Everyday Iran, Still from What's Your Number? via Born Unicorn, Hillary Clinton buying a burrito via David Hepworth, Don McLean. 

The links and words which have been littering my tabs bar, and sitting in my brain for the past fortnight. This weekend has been gloriously sunny. Yesterday was spent in Sheffield visiting Doc/Fest, playing with Oculus Rift and lazing in the sunshine at the Peace Gardens with beers and watching Grey Gardens. Come evening, back in Manchester; curry from Al Madina, homemade White Russians and watching Paul McCartney live in concert via a pair of cardboard virtual reality goggles and feeling excited, rather than pessimistic about technology (a reference to that Internet Hangover article linked below.)

Life
  • "I think women don't really want to talk about how obsessed they are with being thin, so they abstract it by making it into a philosophical thing, because then no one will question it." Fariha Roisin talking to Ana Cecelia Alvarez as part of The Hairpin's wonderful Self-Care series, which is essential reading.
Culture


Food
  • Two things I want in a cookbook: 1. An photograph to accompany every single recipe. 2. Prose that brings to life the sounds of a produce market, of a family around a table, or the pleasure of a summer peach in a brown paper bag. Last week I listened to The Food Programme's two-episode Jane Grigson tribute, and I now know that my latter desire is thanks to the legacy of this food writer, who died a year before I was born. A household name I knew very little about, I look forward to leafing through her books purely for pleasure, no need to cook.
Listening
Snacks
  • Grandmothers smoking hookah whilst preparing squid, men playing chess, and kids on scooters. Everyday Iran is an Instagram account featuring everyday scenes captured by photographers living and working in Iran.
  • Born Unicorn, a goldmine-ish archive of beauty products and perfumes featured in film and TV.
  • David Hepburn blogs at least once a week and his posts are short and sweet without compromising substance. The Loo Read of the blog world, if you will. Also, great post titles like "Whenever I buy fast food I feel like Peter Mandelson in that chip shop" from the man who writes those indispensable radio previews for The Guide. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Feeling Myself (and not Feeling Myself)

Really, really feeling myself when I wear at least one half of this ASOS brocade suit I bought this month. 

I'm grateful to Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, and Kim Kardashian for bringing some new vocabulary into 2015 which really hits the nail on the head when it comes to celebrating self-love. I'm thinking "I was feeling my look! Can I live?" and Feeling Myself. I like the multitude of meanings covered by Feeling Myself. To me, there are three major strands: of feeling your baseline, familiar self, and inhabiting your body, rather than tagging along behind it, which is how it can feel on self-conscious days. Then there's the simple notion of feeling your look in the moment, or of touching yourself physically and revelling in it. 

Feeling Myself is a more accessible shoulder-shrug version of "I woke up like this." Not everybody feels smoking hot when they wake up. When I'm Feeling Myself, it's usually because I've washed my hair, and I'm wearing my favourite orange lipstick, or because I've just had a great catch-up with a friend. Or because I'm dancing. It's not because it's how I woke up. Those things aside, having a neat go-to phrase which simultaneously sums up unabashed personal confidence and references a cultural zeitgeist of women publicly hair-flicking together gives a name to the power in thinking yes and so uploading a photograph of yourself on Instagram. I love that the act of taking a selfie has reached the point of being about self-love, rather than mistaken for pure vanity. A fear of vanity can do a lot to stop women celebrating themselves, and a selfie symbolises that the person taking a photograph of them-self and uploading it, has bulldozed through some of those associative barriers.

I've been thinking a lot this week about Feeling Myself, and not feeling myself. As somebody who has blogged for almost 10 years, from the age of 15, I've thought about how Feeling Myself (and all that entails, selfies included) changes as you get older. Without realising, I rarely post selfies, or photographs of what I'm wearing on this blog anymore. That's because during this blog's lifetime I have transitioned from teenager to 'real life adult person living in a world of potential employers' and unconsciously pandered to a sense that I should temper posting photographs of myself. A sort of 'you're not still doing that, are you?' niggle. Last year at work a marketing manager from one of Manchester's large arts organisations said in a meeting that he'd found my blog and enjoyed reading it, that he felt he'd visited my flat after seeing photos I'd uploaded of myself in my sitting room. On the one hand, I rated his honestly for saying that, rather than feeling obligated to this strange social code in which none of us are sure the extent to which we're allowed to reveal that we follow each other online. On the other hand, I was at work, and unsure if it undermined my professionalism. It made me feel sort of vain and unserious to have that brought into a work context. That's the reality when you share things about yourself in such a public forum, as so many of us do. There were moments like that, and there's the matter of being in a relationship in which there's a large age-gap, and of seeing selfies as an indicator of being the younger, less serious of the pair. Selfies as being something 'young people do', and that his friends, or colleagues might find online and not really understand. The thing I realise is that I am utterly serious. Serious about Feeling Myself, and as many women as possible Feeling Themselves. And I miss posting photographs of myself and what I'm wearing on my blog. I think there's a tendency to view Feeling Myself as a baseline state that grows stronger as you get older, and doesn't need to be pronounced in public lest that be mistaken as a defensive act of bolstering. But I think it's a mistake to view selfies and public acts of self-love with that mindset. 

Feeling oneself isn't a constant, unchanging state of mind. It's really fragile, and it's easy to distinctly not feel yourself. This month I've had emotionally wobbly moments, and have really not been feeling myself. So much of the time that comes down to treating yourself with a merciless judgement you wouldn't wish for anyone you care about to be under. So it seems sort of incredible to be able to veer so far from one direction from the other. Taking stock, and having moments of striding down the street, mentally dusting off your shoulders like I've got this, has gone some way to alleviating those feelings for me. It has also affirmed the importance of 'Feeling Myself' as being an act that takes place online, as well as in public IRL. It feels even more important to keep posting selfies beyond teenage years if it helps to undo a concern that these photographs symbolise a frivolity rather than the hefty whack of a flagpole going into an earthy mound, and a declaration of Feeling Myself unfurling in the breeze as bugles play into the intro of Run The World (Girls). On a Monday morning. 

I went through my laptop's Photo Booth archive this week. Taken over the last four years, it charts changes in hair colour, bedrooms across different cities and countries and varying levels of comfort with posing. It was affirming to look at these photos and think you looked great. I don't do it so much now, but I used to have a tendency to look at photos of myself from two years ago and idealise my weight, my skin and my hair at that time, and to think that was the ideal. I realised I was constantly applying this logic to my two-years-ago self, and it followed that I should be celebrating my current self now. Yes, why not just start now. Let yourself feel good, and make a head-start on when I'm doing it two years down the line anyway. 

Final thanks to Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj, and Beyonce for providing an intensely motivational soundtrack while I wrote this. 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Weekend List: No. 16

This week's Weekend List is dispatched from Berlin. I've only just arrived and am already doing that typical (creepy) thing of transplanting my life into somebody else's space as we're renting an apartment through Airbnb, which we clearly chose for this explicit purpose. The kitchen floor is painted bright green, and positioned above the table is a painting of a friend egg. A balcony just about overlooks the canal, and all of the cheese plants in the living room (obligatory feature, tick) are in much better nick than mine. My snakeskin boots are in the shoe rack, and there's a sky blue 1970s Ford Cortina parked outside, which I'm pretending I own. I keep walking between rooms nodding to myself like yes, this is my alternate life for the next week. I am going to read all of the books on my bedside table and eat all of the falafel and return a better person. Lo! We'll see how that goes. Without further ado, the latest Weekend List. Pop the kettle on, and maybe Beyonce, which is the view from here.

Images: Holly Blues, Roisin Kiberd, Prada x Dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal as part of AnOther's MOVEment project, The Bookery Cook's Instagram, Gutting a Squid via Good Good Girl. 

Life
  • "For decades, pop culture and media have set up a clear binary between single women and their coupled counterparts... Single women? They drink whiskey at the bar alone and have the power to swing elections. Coupled women plan "compromise" vacations and buy a lot of cleaning products." I feel like Ann Friedman collected my thoughts and current brain debris for: Honorary Spinster: Can I Be A 'Single Lady' Without Being Single?
  • "You have more rights to your image on CCTV than you do your Facebook photos." Roisin Kiberd walked around Dublin, using an app to take control of public CCTV cameras, and take selfies.
  • "I don't want women to go through life responding to compliments about their work with, 'Oh it's just a thing, it's not that great.'" How To Take A Compliment. (Thanks Sim for emailing me this link this week.) 
  • I've had lots of conversations recently with former bloggers, and readers of blogs. We've spoken how the medium has changed, and how we crave the sort of blogs we used to read, which have since become defunct. It feels like there are less blogs updated with as much frequency and 'honesty' (I know, whatever honesty actually is..) as there were in say, 2009. I know that's because lots of the bloggers I once followed were teenage. Now everybody has grown up, we want to stretch ourselves, to write in other places. We also have to make money, and the time spent working is what often stands in the way of blogging in a regular, and satisfying way. Sometimes people can't write in the same way now that they're employed and obliged to be accountable. That said, I still relish blogging here, and these conversations have led me to dig around for new blogs to read. One of my new bookmarks is Holly Blues, and I like it very much. Holly is 25 and writes about family life in Falmouth. She blogs about bringing up two small children, getting caught in downpours on the way to the shops, watching her family as they snooze, frugality, making things and how very, very tiring parenting can be. What she shares feels very generous and full of love, and I like reading about her life, which feels very unlike my own, but not so dissimilar in other ways. 

Culture
  • "Now sounds like always being connected together people online, I think it sounds like economic uncertainty, it sounds like post-WikiLeaks... Multiple browser windows open...everything jammed together but on an equal playing field." I found watching musician and sound-artist Holly Herndon in conversation fascinating. 
  • AnOther Magazine's MOVEment project explores the intersection between fashion and dance in a beautiful series of collaborative films.

Food

Listening

Snacks

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Women Are Emailing

Painting: Karin Mamma Anderson's About A Girl (2005)

"I use the word 'coup' because I think that people should be nervous because women are emailing each other. Women are DMing each other. The women are talking. The women are emailing. You could be pen pals with one person for 10 months, and then that person that no one knew about writes this piece and just drops it, and that piece comes from emailing with women." Durga Chew-Bose*

*Listen to this clip from 25;05 minutes in, because I'll be referencing it throughout. 


I'm having a bit of a moment over here. I've spent the last month going on dates with women and I am high on it. I've had cocktails in the novel sunshine of daylight saving time, beers in the shade, stacks of welsh rarebit on my lunch break, and pre-9am breakfast coffees. Call it networking, call it brain-picking, call it cooking up a big cauldron of condensed female energy; I've spent the last four weeks on a hunter-gatherer mission, and these women have been sharpening my spears.

To start: last month, I returned from a week of holidaying in the States, (of binding up my bowels with doughnuts for breakfast and realising I am in love), with a thud back to reality. I was sat down, and told that I'm being made redundant from work. This was obviously a bummer. Particularly when you live alone and have to cover next month's rent. It was also a bummer because it gave that corner of my brain, the one everybody owns, which is so determined to plant a seed of doubt during a lull in confidence, a reason to say "Aha! You did do something wrong!" Thankfully my stronger tangle of pink brain cells has mostly been able to extinguish those thoughts, and quite quickly I was able to think you know what, maybe this is the right thing, a cosmic kick up the arse to get to work on my writing, and the unfulfilled projects that have been stewing. The thoughts that chip away at me in the shower in the mornings, when I'm scared of a moment passing before I've managed to get my head straight, of somebody else having the same idea and doing it better. They're the things I often feel too tired to work on in the evenings, which in turn makes me feel worse. That little voice again: everybody else is working harder than you, so why can't you just do it?

Enough of the voice. I set to work sending emails to women I like, women I admire, women I've had good conversations with over wine, asking for their advice, and most of all not feeling bad about asking for advice. And so tonight, when I was listening to Another Round, and to Durga Chew-Bose talking about the power of quiet email exchanges with women, and how they feed into our creativity, I hit rewind three times, and then sat down to write this.

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to Consciousness Raising, to the women that gathered in their New York apartments in the late 1960s and went around the room, talking about their lives and shared issues, giving a voice to feelings previously felt below the surface. My ears pricked when I heard Durga talking about email because it confirmed my experience; the same thing is happening now, but it's happening quietly over Gmail. And Twitter. For me, these are emails are long, and rich and full of feeling, and when I find one sitting unmarked in my inbox, I'll often honour it with the same rituals as I might a shiny new magazine. Find a quiet moment, put the kettle on, and savour it. It could be an email I've ended up printing out, or an emoji-laden tweet which feels like a knowing high-five across an ocean. Sometimes it's just reaching out and asking somebody for a contact in order to pitch. The point is though, we feel good when we talk. And what does that feeling do? It builds us up, fills in the gaps and affirms in a way to help us to get things done. I honestly think too much is made of the idea of women talking in bathrooms (hey men, we're sitting, you're standing, that's all there is to it) but there's an allure in the notion that we're in there concocting ideas, a coven around the hand dryers.

We are increasingly concerned about online security; in the wake of the Sony email leak, of the scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton's private emails, people have become more nervous about what could be unveiled from their own accounts. I actually relish what we might find. A big old pile of treasure, of back-and-forth emails between women over months and years, just yearning to be typed into Letters From... anthologies, to be bought and left beside toilets to continue the cycle. A revolution in a loo read!

Some of these platonic dates I've been on during the past month has been everything Tinder never was. I haven't had to watch a bored face gaze over my shoulder, and often after we've parted ways, comes the Holy Grail of Network Dating (don't be scared to call it that): The Follow Up Email. Don't be mistaken, these aren't bland niceties. They are the minutes taken by your invisible secretary, of the cool stuff you discussed. A reading list containing gems from the Rookie archives, a technique for avoiding procrastination, a link to the eye pencil she was wearing, and which you asked her about. One of my favourite gems, which Marisa kindly shared with me, was her '5 at 5' habit. Each day at 5pm, she and her friend would email each other (of course) a list of five things, relating to personal development and their careers, that they wanted to achieve. Then they'd check in the following day for an update. So, this could be booking onto a course, applying for a job, or asking a potential new mentor out for a coffee. I don't know if they still do this, but I like the idea of holding yourself accountable to a trusted friend who can say come on, just do it.

I'm not trying to say that every coffee I have must now require An Interesting Woman and A Takeaway Gem. (Nobody has time for that much sustained depth.) I'm just giving email, and Twitter their dues. They can feel like time vacuums sometimes, or a strange vortex in which Great Stuff Is Constantly Happening To Other People, but as a medium they can make really good things happen too, if you can help yourself to click that little X at the right moment, and take the good words off to a quiet corner, for as long as you need. Maybe even 10 months or so.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Moving Moodboard


Clips: 1. Bride and her Dad dancing to Taylor Swift. 2. Simon Cowell and paparazzi. 3. A horse on El Toro Beach, Mallorca. 4. Freddie Mercury tired of interviews, 1984. 5. Game of table tennis between an 'old man' and 'young challenger' in Leicester Square, London. 6. Bear hunting for salmon in British Columbia. 

A collection of good, weird, familiar and mundane clips collected from the internet, and set to a groovy Italian soundtrack. Look, and listen to it however you like. 

A step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Press play on Nico Fidenco's 'Se Mi Perderai' right there at the top. 

Step 2. Press play on each of the video boxes, hitting mute at the same time, or experimenting with however much sound you would like from each. Scroll up and down, watch it all come together. 
Step 3: Enjoy a Bride and her Dad dancing, Freddie Mercury swigging from a stein, Simon Cowell and the strange mundanity of celebrity worship, a skittish horse, a hungry bear and an old gent beating a young gent in a game of ping pong.
Step 4: When it is all over, go on as you were.

Previous Moving Moodboards can be found here and here. Some of the videos have since been deleted from YouTube. That's okay though, if we wanted things to be permanent we might look to other places than the internet.