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Month: October 2016

Adventures with a kilt company

Adventures with a kilt company

groundskeeper-willie

I’ve been working at a kilt company for 6 months now. It’s easily my favourite job that I’ve ever had and it’s somehow made me love Scotland even more. I love it.

6 months is no time at-all but I have never felt so settled in a job so quickly. I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned in my time at my lovely wee company.

  1. Working for what is mostly a family company can be a little intimidating at times but I was never treated like a ‘new girl’. Once you’re in, you’re in. Just like family.
  2. There are SO MANY gorgeous tartans out there! One of my favourites is Hebridean Heather tartan but there are so, so many of them and I have actually seen far more tartans that I love than ones I’ve not quite taken to.
  3. The Scots were ruthless. Writing about Scottish history for a SUPER SECRET COOL PROJECT has taught me so much more than I ever did at school (though I left my Scottish high school after 2 years so it was a low bar).
  4. Scottish wedding traditions are crazy and also really, really interesting. For example, up in the highlands there is a tradition called The Blackening where traditionally, a groom, but now a bride and groom are “kidnapped” by their friends and relatives and covered in a range of things such as eggs, mud, etc and paraded through their village. It’s all in good fun but also… WTF HIGHLANDS?!
  5. Watching the whole kilt making process is surprisingly fascinating and seeing it done, still, by hand, is actually a wee bit moving.
  6. Kilts are great. And heavy.
  7. If you work around kilts enough, you get pretty passionate about how they are worn. I notice when men aren’t wearing them correctly and yes, of course there’s a wrong way to wear them and I apparently care about that!
  8. People love Scotland. I have spoken to so many people that have told me how much they love our wee corner of the world. So many that have found tenuous links to Scottish lineage just because they’re so fond of Scotland. It’s lovely.
  9. The wedding industry doesn’t seem to be quite as cut-throat as people make it out to be. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it and talking to people about their weddings!
  10. The Marketing team work together in an office in Glasgow Collective. The collective has a huge range of companies from a feminist embroidery business to specialist agencies dedicated to the drinks industry. We have free coffee all day, every day from the amazing Dear Green Coffee, an in house Boston Terrier called Darcy and a bunch of other dogs who come to visit! It’s unique, to say the least!

Working here has been the one positive thing in a pretty dark year and long may it continue…!

 

 

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Lovecats vs Flatmate

Lovecats vs Flatmate

collie-baloons

My cats are great, but they’re spoilt. There are no two ways around it; I have always lived my life around them and would never dream of sending them to a cattery. It’s ridiculous. I have no problem with catteries – my dogs always went to kennels when we went away on holiday! For me, though, for my own sanity, no catteries. Round up friends, family, neighbours… whatever. If it meant my precious fluffy kitties weren’t out of their comfort zone, fine by me.

When we moved flat, though, I got a little scared. Had a spoilt them too much? (Yes) Had I wrapped them up so much that they wouldn’t even know how to comprehend change? (almost definitely) and oh, God, Collie hates men. I was moving in with a man. How would Collie cope? Would he die of a heart attack? (Genuine concern of mine).

Turns out, with a little help from Feliway and catnip, my cats settled in fine. We are settled in our new home, they’re eating fine, exploring and appreciating the new windows they have to “intimidate” birds from. I’m very proud of them and did, absolutely, underestimate how adaptable cats are for creatures that hate change.

jessie

Of course, it was never going to be completely easy. As affectionate and sweet as my cats are with me, they’re not quite so generous with their emotions when it comes to my flatmate. They are a little stand-offish, a little conservative and in the case of Collie, timid around Grant and although Grant was never huge on cats before meeting mine, he now sees it as an emotional challenge. I think he’s genuinely affronted that my cats haven’t quite taken to him yet (rightly so, they do rule the roost after all).

Things I’ve said so far:

  • “Okay, I know he runs away from you and doesn’t really let you pet him but when the buzzer goes, Collie runs under your bed. That’s love”
  • “Jess is just a diva. Do you not hear the noises she makes when I’m not giving her attention? If she was my teenage daughter, I’d be threatening to move her in with my mum”
  • “I think Collie’s warming to you. Just don’t look at him. He finds it intimidating. Okay, you can look at him as you pet him, he’s not that bad.Actually, maybe he is. Christ.”
  • “You’re having a girl over? Does she like cats? Cat allergies are really bad. I know I bring everything back to cats but honestly people with cat allergies get PUFFY FACES!”
  • “I cannot believe Collie lay in your bed. YOUR BED. He is my cat. Jess is everybody’s cat but Collie has always loved me most. This is unbelievable. I mean, congratulations to you but my cat is essentially Judas at this point”

We’ll get there, eventually. If Collie could stop being simultaneously scared of Grant and attracted to his bed for some reason, we might even have a happy wee home.

 

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Happy birthday, Megan

Happy birthday, Megan

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You came to us in the middle of a storm. We were tired, we were aching and never have we since needed relief as much as we did in the months preceding your birth. We were weathering, but getting by should never be enough. We needed more. You were that. I call you our little firefly because you were a bright, ethereal light in the dark.

Despite the aching in our hearts, you were so easy to love. We were guarded but not around you. You’ve always been easy to love.

Before I met you, I lost a lot of love but I regained it quickly and poured every bit of affection I could muster into being your sister. I took so much delight in watching you grow. Our age difference is too big for us to ever have a real, challenging, sibling relationship and while I know that can be strange, I love it. I always did. The world has never hardened me for so many reasons but you were a big one – after struggling for so long to see light, there you were. Wonderfully innocent. Untouched by the world’s harshness. Wondrous, funny and endlessly enchanted by the world around you.

How could I ever stay hardened in the face of that?

You were always keen to learn, keen to share everything you had learned. Your knowledge of the world’s continents, countries and cities was unrivalled even by the adults around you. You were a sponge and you loved it. Always a new fact, a new story. A child who not only understood but enjoyed QI… wild. Where did we even find you?

I have to admit, I’m struggling to adjust to you being a teenager. You’ll always be a baby in my eyes but I do recognise that you have grown, and changed from the little girl I knew. In great ways. You are so wise for your years and the things you have to say regarding autonomy and feminism blow my mind. You are so much more clued up than I ever was.

I can’t believe you’re 14 today. Megan Kelly, 14! CRAZY.

I hope you’re having a wonderful time in my dream city and I hope that you enter 14 feeling a little stronger than you did at 13. I hope that 14 is an absolute blast for you but most of all, I hope you continue being wonderful wee you.

Happy birthday Megan, I love you to the moon.

 

Recently

Recently

I have slept through most of my free time today so this is just a quick roundup of everything I’ve been enjoying lately!

Listening to…

The new Alter Bridge album The Last Hero! WOW. I didn’t actually think they’d ever release an album that rivalled Blackbird and this truly, truly does. Once I finished the album, I instantly restarted it. I can’t believe what they’ve pulled off and I really hope I can manage to nab a ticket to their Glasgow show because those songs live… I can’t even imagine.

KCRW Strangers Podcast Lea Thau

KCRW’s Strangers podcastI am not much of a podcast person – I’m trying to be but I usually end up putting on music which is pretty annoying but Strangers caught my attention.

Lea Thau, Peabody Award winner & former Director of The Moth, has created Strangers, featuring true stories about people we meet, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that we aren’t even who we thought we were…

The show is absolutely gorgeous. So many beautifully told stories about a whole range of human experiences. What stood out most to me, though, was the Love Hurts series. Following a breakdown in a long-term relationship, host Lea Thau has been dating for four years. She hasn’t settled into a new relationship and in the Love Hurts series, Lea revisits the people she’s dated to ask why it didn’t work out with them.

It’s such a raw, brave thing to do, especially on air. She asks all of the questions that most of us are too afraid to especially the all-important – “did I scare you off by being myself”?

Reading…

Lemmy – the definitive biography by Mick Wall. When Lemmy died, I wrote that nobody seemed to have bad words to say about Lemmy and as something of a superfan, I honestly thought this was true. I have watched and read so many things about him, I’ve followed his career for so long that I now get pretty bored when I read a new Lemmy/Motörhead book because I’ve heard it all before.

This book has completely unravelled everything I thought I knew about Lemmy. Written by a journalist who was respected by the man himself, it reaches the sides that not even Lemmy’s autobiography covers. It tells the stories that I hadn’t heard yet and instead of bowing down to the Lemmy is God archetype, it instead paints him as a complicated, dark soul who has fucked up a few times. In short, it offers a human insight to Lemmy.

Not to say he wasn’t a great guy, he definitely was. He was just more human than we let ourselves believe.

I’m not usually one to recommend biographies but as a huge fan of both Motörhead and Lemmy, I wholeheartedly recommend this.

Watching…

Nightcrawler movie

We had ordered Chinese food, we were cosy and we were ready to watch a film.

So, my flatmate and I scanned through Netflix, iPlayer etc until I remembered a film I’d absolutely loved a couple of years ago – Nightcrawler. I thought it’d be right up Grant’s street and I was right.

I have thought about Nightcrawler so many times since the release in 2014. It is dark, it’s twisted and it is so sinister. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is, in my opinion, the best of his career. I have thought so many times about how beautifully shot it was, how carefully crafted Jake Gyllenhaal’s character was and about the knot it created in my stomach from the beginning which did not unravel at any point.

When Louis Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Revisiting it was a treat. There were parts I hadn’t caught on to the first time, there were parts I’d completely forgotten and watching my flatmate twist and cringe the same way I had the first time was pretty thrilling, too. I love people being as affected by films as I am.

What have you been enjoying recently? Do you have any recommendations?

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National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day

It is National Poetry Day, I am very tired. Here are some of my favourite poems:

Buddy Wakefield – We Were Emergencies

Buddy Wakefield is extremely special to me. I discovered his work a few years back and all of it, but especially this, really hit the core. Buddy Wakefield writes bravely, bluntly but with hope. He is sentimental but razor-sharp and I cannot get enough.

“Tonight, poets, turn your ridiculous wrists so far backwards
the razor blades in your pencil tips
can’t get a good angle on all that beauty inside.
Step into this
with your airplane parts
move forward
and repeat after me with your heart:
I no longer need you to fuck me as hard as I hated myself.
Make love to me
like you know I am better than the worst thing I ever did.”

Neil Hilborn – OCD

I have OCD. This is horribly spot on. In every way. It’s gorgeous, it’s accurate and it crushes me every time.

“How can it be a mistake that I don’t have to wash my hands after I touched her?
Love is not a mistake, and it’s killing me that she can run away from this and I just can’t.
I can’t – I can’t go out and find someone new because I always think of her.
Usually, when I obsess over things, I see germs sneaking into my skin.
I see myself crushed by an endless succession of cars…
And she was the first beautiful thing I ever got stuck on.”

Sabrina Benaim – Explaining My Depression to My Mother”

This poem is art. The performance, the vocabulary and the naked, raw emotion… All I could really think about when I first heard this was how much I appreciated her being so brave. I felt like I’d stepped into Sabrina’s soul but she was speaking the words that I have spoken, that my friends have spoken. Just not quite as beautifully.

“Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out of town that depression felt obligated to invite to the party
Mom, I am the party, only I’m a party I don’t want to be at
Mom says why don’t you try going to actual parties, see your friends
Sure I make plans, I make plans I don’t want to go to
I make plans because I know I should want to go I know sometimes I would have wanted to go
It’s just not that fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun Mom”

Sleep is for the week

Sleep is for the week

I sat, head in my hands, wincing and said, for probably the 15th time that day;

I cannot deal with how tired I am

I was so tired. So tired that I felt physically ill. So tired that my anxiety had been sky-high. Between sleep deprivation and too much caffeine, I was losing my mind.

I couldn’t really figured out why, though. I was looking into high-energy foods and promising myself I’d go on a diet of solely these if it meant I’d actually be able to get through the day. I was considering that maybe I had a deficiency of some sort. I just… couldn’t place it.

That was until a coworker pointed out that for the past month, every single time she’s asked what my plans for the evening are, I’ve had something on. Nothing too extravagant but still, all the time and it always involved me travelling, not quite catching dinner, getting home after 10 and struggling to fully wind down.

I struggle with my physical health as it is and I really should spend more time relaxing. I just like being busy. I like telling people how busy I am, how tough my job is. We all do, we just don’t tend to admit it. Being busy isn’t always something to aspire to, though. Being so busy that you are ill, you are exhausted and you’ve lost all sense of normality is extremely unhealthy.

Bertrand Russell once said:

The kind of leisure which is quiet and restoring to the nerves comes to be felt boring. There is bound to be a continual acceleration of which the natural termination would be drugs and collapse. The cure for this lies in admitting the part of sane and quiet enjoyment in a balanced ideal of life.
The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrand Russell

I agree. There is peace to be found in taking it easy. It’s been less than a week and I am already feeling better for the quiet moments.

The solitary hours reading alone, the baths lit by candlelight, curling up in front of an old favourite show or even just taking a couple of hours out of my evening to call my mum have all been extremely restorative.

We romanticise stress. We believe that the more stressed we are, the more we’re achieving but it’s not true. Take the time to look after yourself, even if it’s just for a couple of nights. Remember that it’s okay to be “boring” for a while if it means you can truly recharge.

 

 

 

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You are enough

You are enough

youare-enough

In all your insecurity, your imperfections and your instability, you are enough.

The mistakes you have made do not define who you are, or who you will be. You don’t need to continue to apologise or excuse. You are enough.

You are not damaged goods, you are human and humans suffer. Humans experience trauma, complications, difficulties. This doesn’t mean you’re damaged, it means you’ve lived.

Stop trying to squeeze your huge, beautiful soul into small, stuffy spaces.

I have seen so many gorgeous, strong, intelligent people try to size themselves down. I’ve watched them as they try to become less. Less obnoxious, less passionate, less present. It’s heartbreaking. Life beats you down if you’re not careful. Don’t force it on yourself. You. Are. Enough. As you are.

I hate the phrase “your vibe attracts your tribe” but I agree with the sentiment. If you allow yourself to just be, if you accept who you are, in all your ugliness and defeat as well as your glory, you will find your people. You’ll find those who complement, nourish and truly warm your soul. They’ll get you. It’s such a wonderful feeling to know that you’re understood and that each part of you is loved, even the parts that you don’t think are lovable. Especially those, really.

To be human is to be ugly. To be human is to suffer. Don’t hide from these or protect others from your suffering, your ugliness because even with all of it- you are enough.

 

 

 

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Blogging every day!

Blogging every day!

So, this is a quick note to say I’ll be blogging every single day in October. I’m starting a cool music challenge but I’ll also be just writing whatever I feel like writing!

I need to get into the habit of writing for fun. I need to improve this blog. I need to be better at this in general so why not a month-long challenge during my favourite month?!

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