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.
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.
If you would like to keep up with me & my writing, sign up to my newsletter
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.
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.
If you would like to keep up with me & my writing, sign up to my newsletter
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.
If you’d like to keep up with me & my writing, sign up to my newsletter!
A letter to my 16 year old self (#GGBlogChallenge)
So, I’m trying to blog more often and decided hopping onto a 30 day blog challenge, 9 days into it, was the best plan. I’ve talked about my 16 year old self through my livejournal posts and I don’t actually want to keep revisiting her but I do like the idea of writing to a version of me that existed 10 years ago.
Man, I laugh so much at you these days, sorry about that. Actually, do you even believe me? You’re not very good at laughing at yourself at the moment but I promise you, once you stop taking yourself so fucking seriously, it’ll change your whole life.
You are probably the most complex 16 year old I’ve ever known and I know at times that’s so overwhelming but it’ll serve you well in the next 10 years.
Cut your fringe. Cut your fringe. You look like an IDIOT. Just cut it. There are so few pictures of you I am willing to share because you are obsessed with wearing your hair in front of your eyes. You have your nan’s eyes, and they are beautiful. Let people see them.
Actually, while I’m on that, you look down a lot. You realised about a year ago that a lot of people don’t walk with their heads bowed but you do. I understand, and christ it’s awkward to look people in the eye or appear to be confident but you have a beautiful face, a kind soul and you’re even funny sometimes. You need to stop covering yourself. You need to stop hiding your eyes, stop hiding behind these silly personalities you’re conveying. Be you. You’re not cool but you’re you. You don’t even need to be cool. You won’t believe me but people these days actually proudly call themselves losers and geeks. I know. I know. But being cool isn’t everything, in fact, it isn’t anything. It means nothing.
You are brave, you are fearless, you are so unbelievably strong but you go weak at the knees for a boy that doesn’t see your worth. The first time you leave him, let it be the last. Just leave him. He doesn’t deserve you and you don’t deserve the emotional blackmail you receive every time you tell him you’re not happy with his actions. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, at-all, or be grateful for affection from anyone but especially not him. Love yourself. I love you.
While I remember. I went to see Fall Out Boy with Biffy Clyro a couple of weeks ago and Fall Out Boy blew my mind. Please stop pretending you’re cooler than them and just embrace them. You don’t like Fear Factory, you just don’t, stop pretending. I now regret not getting into them when I was your age because they are saying exactly what you need to hear.
Please don’t ditch theatre school. I know everybody is noticibly richer than you but you got in there on merit and it is such a wasted opportunity if you drop it.
Keep walking the dogs. Keep embracing the beautiful town you live in. Hide in the glens, stomp down the beach and sit by your favourite stream of water. You call them your thinking spots but I actually now consider them to be the places you were truly yourself. Donning your scruffiest clothes, not taking your mobile with you and just being away from the noise of the world quietens the noise of your head. I don’t miss the town but I miss that easy escapism and I really miss walking the dogs. It’s the healthiest coping mechanism you’ve used yet and I’m proud of you for making the conscious decision to find these hideouts instead of self-destructing.
You’re not very popular right now and I’m sorry to say this but it’s kind of your fault too. You can be a dick, too. I know, it’s not nice to hear but it’s important to acknowledge. Teenage years are difficult for everybody and friendships that can withstand them are friendships for life but don’t beat yourself up over not having many friends. You will one day. You meet your people, they’re worth the wait I promise.
There’s a really cool line by Amanda Palmer (yeah from Dresden Dolls!) that makes me think of who I am vs who I was when I was 16:
I still get laughed at but it doesn’t bother me, I’m just so glad to hear laughter around me.
Finally, before I get too mushy, please don’t suppress your feelings, don’t be ashamed of being an emotional wee soul and don’t put on a tough act when you need to be shamelessly vulnerable. You are loved, as you are.
“Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way”
Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
So, today is moving day. Finally.
Autumn doesn’t actually start ’til later this month but it’s the 1st of September and to me, that indicates that Autumn is almost here and the fresh start that F. Scott Fitzgerald spoke of is well underway.
I’m really quite excited to be leaving my big purple house now. Just as I was getting sentimental about leaving, one headache came, and then another, and then another. Now that moving day is here, I’m just really excited to move into a lovely southside flat with an old pal. It’s a new adventure for me and the cats. A well overdue adventure.
There’s something really exciting about moving house and I should know – this is my 20th(!) move. The actual moving part is tedious, costs more than you expect and exhausting but once you’re in, it’s a fresh start. It feels as if you’ve just really turned a page and there are endless opportunities ahead.
The new walls surrounding you, the new area to explore, the nooks and crannies that all make up a home… they’re all yours for the taking! The last tenants only moved out yesterday, so I won’t have that ‘new home’ smell. I have, however, bought candles to make sure it smells fresh.
I even love the unpacking and finding new places for familiar belongings.
I am worried about settling my cats. Cats don’t like change. But I do.
Initially, I freak out. Initially, I wonder how the hell I’m going to tackle it.
Then I get excited. Despite being surrounded by boxes, and binbags, and a flat that still needs to be post-tenancy cleaned, I’m excited. I don’t know what’s ahead apart from a big flat and living with an old friend.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, wasn’t he? Life really does take on a fresh new start in Autumn.
(Please carry my books for me. I have five huge boxes. WHO EVEN NEEDS THIS MANY BOOKS?!)
P.S – my first newsletter goes out today, if you’d like to sign up, just go here!
I remember the time before you. I did play on the street, I did go home with muddy knees and yes, my friends lived across the road from me. I had a lot of fun and I’m so grateful for my memories of being a scruffy kid who played on the street. My memories BI (before internet) are really exactly what all of those terrible memes say and I do get nostalgic thinking about the memories and laughter those days brought.
Those memories, however, have nothing on what you have brought me, internet.
I remember our early days together. The dial-up days. Look, I know you’re embarrassed now but don’t be – we worked through those times and I knew you’d be worth the wait. I mean, yes, okay, it was much quicker to call my friend to arrange plans than rely on not-so-instant messenger but I just loved the sweet satisfaction of pinging messages and awaiting responses.
I remember making websites that weren’t actually too different to this very one but they didn’t cost an annual fee and were almost always covered in tacky glittery gifs.
I remember Blueyonder emails. REMEMBER how important that email address felt?
Our early days were frustrating and I did go for days, weeks at a time without seeing you but once we recovered, we never looked back, did we internet?
From meeting my first crush on Habbo Hotel (I wonder who actually still goes on that bizarre site?!) to explaining my feelings at any given time via my MSN messenger screenname, you were there. Of course, I paired these screennames with “emoticons” that tended to be broken hearts and wilted flowers, bless my emo heart.
I poured my heart out to you from day one, internet. My various Livejournal accounts, my MySpace blog posts, my bulletins and of course, the music I listened to meticulously referenced on Last.Fm. I showed you every little part of me and for every part I showed, there was a new website waiting to embrace it.
When I was 13, I was a shy girl who moved to a different country and I wasn’t really welcomed with open arms by my fellow peers. My weird accent, consistent scowl and aversion to small talk led to me being pretty unpopular. But you always loved me. I found my fellow weirdos thanks to you, internet. My mum was worried for me but I wasn’t. I was relieved. Being a freak is one thing but being the only one is isolating. Thanks to AOL, band forums, MySpace and of course, MSN messenger itself, I never felt alone.
My first love, even before you, was music. Fortunately, thanks to Limewire, I had all the music in the world right at my fingertips ready to go onto my MP3 player. 30 songs in one tiny player! How lucky! Limewire did give our computer viruses, some dodgy versions of songs that didn’t quite sound like the versions I’d heard on Kerrang and never-ending frustration when I downloaded a full album but I loved Limewire. I tried others but like a lover that you know is bad for you, I always went back to Limewire. I couldn’t resist.
Even now, I don’t regret my time with Limewire. I can’t listen to Good Riddance without hearing the glitch that came with the Limewire version but that is a small price to pay, really.
Then there were the friendships I did start in person but curated online. The friendships that were built through late-night talks and bearing our souls in a way that just didn’t seem possible offline. We all struggled with our hormones and chaotic emotions but you, internet, you gave us a safe outlet that was very much “what is said on the internet stays on the internet”. Thank you for that.
In my later teen years, you were a solace to me when I moved to Glasgow alone. I spent my evenings finding new music, writing down relatable lyrics in my notepads and attempting to maintain the friendships I’d built.
I finally did start a real blog where I wrote about music. The first thing I wrote was about Jack Johnson’s new album. Then I wrote about my ex-boyfriend’s band’s new album. Then, through the magic of the internet and my Tumblr account, I met with three other girls who wanted to write about music. We started a music blog together called Let the Music Do the Talking, after an Aerosmith song. We ignited one another’s passion for writing and became a lovely wee team for a while.
Then, we got an email from somebody called Chris who was starting a monthly metal night in Glasgow called Mayhem Underground – would any of us like to cover it? I jumped at the chance. Mayhem Underground was run by a team of volunteers. The manager, his partner, two photographers, a radio dj, a weekly podcast host, a comedian and myself. We met so many bands, and I made friends with so many people from the bands. It was wild, incredible, terrible and short-lived. But I met some of my closest, dearest friends through it that I still cherish to this day. All from one silly email. Thank you for that.
All the while, I had a Tumblr account. I know, I know. Tumblr has a bad name but for me, it was an easy way to speak to people from my city without, you know, talking to them in person. On my 26th birthday, I was surrounded by around 10 of my friends and my sister asked me where I’d even met so many people who liked me (thanks Georgia!) the answer was Tumblr. For better or worse, Tumblr. Thanks for that, too.
My music writing slightly took off and I eventually started writing for a local youth magazine called The Banter Magazine. I interviewed so many incredible artists and had so many wonderful gigs experiences thanks to The Banter Magazine. It all started with Amy Lee from Evanescence and the last artist I interviewed for the magazine was Scott from Frightened Rabbit. Unbelievable. And all thanks to you, internet!
Thanks to my writing being readily available online, I managed to get some paid SEO freelance work which added to an accidentally growing portfolio. I didn’t even think of where my portfolio would take me, I was just excited to be writing and to be paid to do so!
In 2014, I landed what I thought was my “dream job” thanks to my writing. Thanks to you, really, since you gave me a platform. That job ended, and so did others following it but now I write for a living. It’s my entire job! This really is the dream. I am a content writer for a fantastic wee company and if it weren’t for you, internet, my job wouldn’t even exist.
In fact, I don’t know what my life would be without you, internet. Friends, jobs, unforgettable experiences, and all thanks to you. So happy birthday, internet and thank you so bloody much for the memories. And the endless information at my fingertips. And the opportunities. And Netflix.
I am willing to forget the utter horror that was Faceparty. We’ll call that a bad patch and leave it at that.
It’s been 15 years that I’ve loved you, internet, and although our relationship is sometimes unhealthy and I did use you as a crutch for a long time, I think our relationship is beautiful now. It has taken me to places I never could have been to if it weren’t for you.
I’m sure Tim-Berners Lee had bigger dreams for you than terrible memes and Llamas in Hats but I’m grateful for it all.
It started with losing a boyfriend and ended with losing a flat (well, my landlord is looking into selling it and was actually very lovely about it all but allow me some dramatics, I’m sad). In between that, I was told I might lose an ovary. Holy. Hell.
This little flat is my home. It is tiny, there are no radiators on the walls – just expensive portable ones, the neighbourhood leaves a lot to be desired and yes, fair enough, I have complained quite a lot about my little corner of the world over the past five years but it is home. In fact, I have lived in this flat for longer than I’ve ever lived in any home before it. I love it.
The walls are purple, the doors are cheap and the buzzer is ridiculous. I live on a lane. The end of my address is “street lane” and nobody can ever find it. I didn’t even really want this flat when we got it, it just seemed like the best of a bad bunch. It was so much worse back then but you really do make homes your own and now the thin walls that surround me also define me. Every essence of this feels like home.
I can’t say I’m quite as attached to my ovary. The cyst that currently lives on it has given me so much grief. I’ve always been somebody who cries easily, and a lot, but the pain this has given me has left me sobbing on the bus, in doorways and into my cardigan at work. I probably won’t miss this ovary or the residing cyst but I wish the option to have it hadn’t been taken away from me.
I think that’s where I am, actually. There’s a lot happening to me that I didn’t get consulted on prior. The feeling of helplessness and loss of control has taken a huge toll on me.
I need to move. I need to move on. I need to probably have an ovary removed and the very least, surgery. 2/3 of those are definitely happening soon. They’re happening whether I like it or not, whether I’m ready or not. I’m still quite overwhelmed and although I think everything that’s happened has been right, and fair, and for the best, I’m craving the life I had 5 weeks ago. I wish I’d made the most of my life not being such a hurricane.
I have no idea where I’ll be in 4 months time. I have no idea what my life will be like. And I guess…. that’s pretty exciting? I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me. And in my lighter moments, that are becoming more frequent, I realise I’m about to embark on a new adventure. Whatever that may mean for me.
If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s resilience. And oversharing on the internet, clearly.
As David Bowie said: “I don’t know where I’m going but I promise it won’t be boring”.
It never is with me, eh 😉