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.


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.


  • "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.

  • 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.


>>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.)

  • "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.

  • 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.
  • 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.