A Film For What Ails You

A film for what ails you

Now autumn is upon us and the nights are drawing in, there’s no greater comfort than curling up on the sofa with a chunk of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, a glass of wine and watching a film.

For any affliction of the spirit, there’s a film to fix you – and if it doesn’t fix you it will at least provide you with a couple of hour’s worth of entertainment.

For when you feel like the world is a terrible place. There is such a thing as watching too much news. Whilst it’s great (and important) to be informed, there’s no shame in taking a break to watch something completely escapist. Think of it as replenishing your reserves.

For this, I think the best things to reach for are any films with animals in: Homeward Bound, Turner and Hooch, Jurassic Park. Pretty much any musical will help with this too – Grease, or even better Grease 2, My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz – they’re all going to transport you to an all singing, all dancing world of fun where the threat of nuclear war is but a distant memory.

For when you need motivating. Hello, this is me all the time. When I need a cinematic kick up the arse I turn to Working Girl, Dirty Dancing (she practises so much guys, and she’s on holiday) and Rocky. Thief is also strangely motivating…motivating me to start a life of crime!

For when you need to laugh. I’m here to tell you that I watched Role Models once a week for almost the entirety of 2009, and 2009 was better for it.

Special mentions for Wet Hot American Summer and Legally Blonde.

For when you want a hug and a warm bath. If you want a hug and a warm bath, maybe first go and source those two things BUT AFTER THAT watch My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sleepless in Seattle and the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

For when you need to feel a little bit magical. Now let me recommend you all go and watch the greatest film of all time, which I watched e v e r y night of my second year of uni or else I could not fall asleep (drum roll please): Practical Magic.

Special mentions here go Hocus Pocus, The Craft and Matilda.

What are your go to films for when you feel down in the dumps? Do you watch any films over and over again? Let me know in the comments or email hello@terriblypersonal.com

10 of my Most Pointless Fears

ONE:  That I will be wrongly convicted of a crime I didn’t commit.

TWO:  That my cat will sit on my face whilst I’m asleep and suffocate me.

THREE:  That I have slept for two days and missed a day of work – somehow without anyone calling me to find out where I am.

FOUR:  When I go to meet someone at a planned place, at a planned time, I worry that I invented the plan myself and they won’t show up, despite having proof on my phone that the plan was indeed made by both of us.

FIVE:  That I sleep talk all my secrets, even though I don’t have any secrets.

SIX:  Halfway through a really high note of a song (that I’ve already committed to sing) I worry that people other than my boyfriend can hear my caterwauling.

SEVEN:  That somehow what I’m listening to on Spotify is being broadcast on my Facebook page. Although is there any shame in Celine Dion and Lisa Loeb?

EIGHT:  Sometimes mid-conversation I am gripped with the fear that I have forgotten my accent and started using another one without trying to or being able to hear it. This has never actually happened (to my knowledge).

NINE:  That the way I have been pronouncing my name (correctly) for 27 years is incorrect and next time some administrator asks me it over the phone they’re going to erupt into laughter.

TEN:   That all my friends have gone to the trouble of creating alternate WhatsApp group chats without me to talk about me behind my back, or simply to avoid having to listen to my ‘jokes’.

Alone Not Lonely

About four years ago, I lived near to a Buddhist Temple that offered a ‘meditation for beginners’ course one evening a week. I’d recently attended a meditation day course with one of my friends and this seemed like the next logical step. I wanted to learn more about meditation and deepen my practise, and most importantly this course was free.

I knew that my boyfriend, who believes that meditation is a nonsensical waste of time, would not want to go with me. My friend who I’d gone to the last course with was busy on Thursdays and I didn’t think any of my other friends would enjoy it. No matter, I thought, I’ll go on my own.

And off I went, alone, to the first class. There was an introductory talk and then a short guided meditation that to my untrained mind seemed to last forever. Afterwards, there was a chance to meet the other people on the course and have a drink and a snack. We all crowded in the small kitchen space, grabbed cups of tea and biscuits and formed small groups. I stood on the edge of one of these groups, cupping my mug of tea, staring off into the middle distance in the hopes that no one would talk to me. But someone did. Someone always does.

“And who are you here with?” A lady of about forty, with short, shiny black hair asked me.

“No one,” I answered.

The lady looked aghast. She went on to tell me how she absolutely could not face coming here on her own,

“I’ve come with a friend, would none of your friends come?” She asked rudely. Something in her tone implied I didn’t have any friends.

“Er, well I don’t have that many friends locally. My boyfriend and I have just moved,” I felt the need to explain to the lady. She was so shocked at my lone attendance that I felt it was my fault.

“Couldn’t your boyfriend come?” She persisted. When I explained that meditation wasn’t really his thing, she said that if it were her, she’d have forced him.

“If no one would come with me, I wouldn’t bother coming,” she said, shaking her head at me.

Trying to placate the lady, I told her I did lots of things alone and I was used to it. I explained that I’d recently been to Norway on my own and really enjoyed it.

Well, her head nearly exploded right then and there. No matter what I said she never lost the look of absolute pity she regarded me with. To her I was friendless and lonely.

But to me, that lady who couldn’t go anywhere alone had the shitty end of the stick.

Imagine being unable to go to an event or a place just because you had no one to go with you? Imagine never knowing the quiet pleasure of sitting outside a bar in the sunshine, ordering a massive glass of wine and pulling out a book. Imagine never experiencing the smug satisfaction of navigating an airport and a foreign public transport system completely alone and arriving, intact, in your desired destination.

When I told people I was going to Norway alone, they generally reacted in shock. Why on earth would I want to go anywhere alone? But some people understood me, my brother’s girlfriend was inspired to spend a weekend in Belgium alone – not because she didn’t have anyone to go with but because she wanted to feel the sheer joy of knowing she, a woman in her early twenties, could travel the world alone. Another friend of a friend who had heard my story gossiped over across a sticky pub table decided to go on a solo trip as well.

I realised that people actively want to travel alone. Women actively want to travel alone. It’s empowering to know you can navigate the world by yourself, that your own company is enough, that you can make all the decisions.

Since that lady stared at me, aghast, in the Buddhist Temple, I’ve done plenty more things perfectly alone. I’ve relished a quiet weekend exploring London, taken myself to restaurants, enjoyed glasses of wine in total solitude, and visited museums, galleries and cities.

I’ve got lost and found again, I’ve stayed in tacky hotels and hostels on the sides of mountains, I’ve wandered around familiar places and new places – all quite alone.

This alone time to me isn’t a hindrance or something to be wished away. It isn’t time to kill. It isn’t something to be waited out from the safety of my home. It’s precious independent time. It’s time to luxuriate in, time to crave, to seek out, to cherish.

Sometimes you want someone there with you – to take photos of your gorgeous outfit, to laugh with when things go a bit wrong, to ask, “is this the right train?”

But sometimes, you want to be alone to experience the world through your eyes only, to spend as long as you want in a gallery looking at only the paintings you like, to read your book and drink your wine and to not share your Danish pastry.

I’m no expert on solo travel, other women have been far further than me for far longer – but the small amount I have done has convinced me that I want to take more trips on my own in the future.

Have you travelled alone? Do you spend time by yourself regularly? What’s your favourite thing to do by yourself? Let me know in the comments or email hello@terriblypersonal.com.

Anti-Social Drinking – I’m an unfriendly drunk

I have a strange relationship with alcohol.

I’m shy and quiet. In a Brady Bunch context I’m much more Jan than Marcia. I don’t really enjoy social interactions. But, for some unfathomable reason, despite my proclivity for solitude, I still feel the need to socialize every once in a while. Whether that’s because of some human biological need or simply because today’s media, and social media, make it seem like if you aren’t surrounded by a big group of friends you aren’t living life, I don’t know. Either way, when the urge to socialize presents itself, I turn to the bottle.

A glass of red wine or two help to warm up my conversational side. After half a bottle of pinot noir I stop worrying that everything that comes out of my mouth is nonsense. A couple of cocktails might see me to the dance floor and keep me blissfully unaware of the awkward way my limbs flail about, slightly out of time with the music. If I ever hit the hard stuff (gin, in my case) I can be inclined to utterly lose my integrity.

It goes like this; a few glasses of something drive my social anxiety away. But a few glasses of something also usher in someone I like to call “Drunk Me”. Drunk Me doesn’t stop after a few glasses, she keeps drinking and drinking and drinking. The consequences are usually embarrassing and almost always lead to a headache.

So what, Sober Me doesn’t like the Kardashians? Drunk Me has found a group of impossibly well-groomed girls who look like they’re all about having a good time. They’re propping up this bar that serves brightly coloured drinks that all taste like sherbet. They love the Kardashians, in fact, they might be Kardashian-Jenner super fans. Drunk Me suddenly develops a deep love for the Kardashian universe and even squeezes out a hysterical tear when she tells her glossy new friends that, “Khloe’s weight loss just really inspired me, huns.”

Drunk Me won’t stop there, either. You like Love Island? So does Drunk Me. You only listen to Ed Sheeran? Drunk Me thinks that’s a spectacular idea (despite once declaring Ed Sheeran, “the worst thing ever, literally please take a hammer to my head rather than playing his record.”) You’re vegan? Here, hold my bacon, because Drunk Me is now vegan too.

Sober me is strictly monogamous and super loyal. She holds all her friends up to her own moral standards, because who wants to be friends with cheats and flakes and liars? Not Sober Me. But Drunk Me, whilst she would never cheat on anyone (just like she’d never murder anyone, she’s drunk guys, not a nut job) has no issue whatsoever with her friends cheating or lying. Drunk Me would happily listen to the details of a friend’s affair with as much enthusiasm as if she were listening to a recap of her favourite box set. Drunk Me would have no qualms facilitating an illicit rendezvous. She condones the kind of behaviour that Sober Me despairs over. Just like Andrea, the drunk psychiatrist on Kimmy Schmidt.

When I’m sober I’m private and withholding. Sober Me chooses to share her most intimate thoughts with only those closest to her. Even then she draws the line at her most secret secrets, “some things are for me to know and no one else,” she reasons. Drunk Me has no barriers and no social decorum. She’ll share and overshare whether the timing is appropriate or not.

I drink to cope with the anxiety that socializing places my introverted self under. But drinking doesn’t make me a friendlier person. Sure, after the first few sips of a crisp gin and tonic my confidence is artificially boosted and I become more smiley. Eventually, though, it turns me into a liar in the pursuit of acceptance. A liar for a good (if slightly pathetic) reason is still a liar at the end of the day. Alcohol makes me dismiss the values I consider important in order to feel more involved with people who don’t consider those values important whether they’re drunk or sober. Drink unleashes in me a self-centred child who must have attention at all costs.

Oh, it’s your birthday party? Let me be a complete downer by spilling all my sad secrets. Not because I want to share these with someone, in fact my sober self has already decided to keep this quiet, but because right now I want everyone to look at me and say, “aw”.

But Sober Me is a good person! Yes, a little shy, a touch reserved. People don’t count on me to be the life and soul of the party. But I’m kind, for the most part considerate and I’m honest to myself and the people I know.

Drunk Me might be louder, more dynamic and armed with enough temporary confidence to dance on a table, but she’s a bad friend. And the person she’s the worst to is Sober Me.

Perhaps it’s time I hung up my wine glass for good?

5 Embarrassing Things That Keep Me Awake At Night

I’m sure we all have a list of embarrassing moments that we replay in our heads instead of sleeping.

My own list of embarrassing, insomnia-inducing moments is a mixture of stalwart classics (see #3) and a few ever-changing elements that I tend to replace in my cringe hierarchy rather quickly.

Without further ado, here’s what’s keeping me up at night:

1) When I tripped up in front of a long queue of traffic last week.
I was wearing new shoes. I tried to tell myself no one saw. EVERYONE saw.

2) In university my tutor returned one of my essays with the comment, “I can only assume you did not mean to submit this.”
He thought it was a draft! It wasn’t a draft!

3) When I wet myself in front of my entire class in primary school.
Pretty sure I will still be blushing about this when I’m dead.

4) When my friend complimented my other friend’s shoes but I assumed she was complimenting my shoes.
My shoes were new, and a bargain, and I was very proud. “Thanks!” I bellowed confidently, “they were in the sale.”
My friends paused momentarily to look at me with disgust and then continued to discuss the shoes the compliment was intended for.

5) The time I lied my way through a job interview for a craft magazine.
The interviewer asked me about what crafts I enjoyed and instead of being honest, I spouted a load of bullshit about paper crafts. The interviewer pressed me for details and rather than back down I carried on talking about scrap-booking (or, what I assumed scrap-booking was).
I did not get the job. Are you surprised?

So embarrassing, I’m blushing just typing this out.

What’s keeping you up at the moment? Let me know in the comments below, or get in touch via hello@terriblypersonal.com.