29 Feb 2012

Humans are brilliant, said Canada.

"Right. Well. I can't go any further now, you're on your own."

This time, I wasn't worried. I felt years older than I had a week previously, and the only thing standing in the way of me at Toronto airport, and me safely happy at home, was the new found happiness, freedom, and confidence sunk at my feet which once danced in front of me. I did not want to go home, and no matter how hard I tried to spend my last day like I should have, this bubblewrap that had surrounded me had begun to pop and there was no way I could stop it. I was quiet, and slow, and my packing was horrific. My packing is never horrific - hello, Virgo - but even my clothes didn't want to leave. Their arms stuck out of the case, just missing a white flag. 

"Hi, how are you?" Yep, that was ME that time, actually making conversation with the security people. If I learnt anything that week is was that, in general, humans are pretty ace and interesting, so you should talk to them. The worst they could do is kill you, which is unlikely, and if they're a horrible person then really you should walk away feeling better about yourself. The confidence that plasters Canadians is admirable, and I fancy me some of that. There are so many opportunities you could miss by not talking to someone, or not saying yes, or not saying no, or not NOTICING what's around you. You may be set in your ways, and are happy with what you know and who you know, but CHEESUS there are so many fantastic people out there and there is so much to KNOW. 

I'd bought my Cadbury's-that-isn't-really-Cadbury's-it's-just-disguised-as Cadbury's-and-made-of-the-runt-of-Nestle and compulsory Niagara Falls magnet for nan. I'd been to the toilet with the sensitive flushes that went off FIVE TIMES while I was STILL WEEING. I was now sitting at the Gate with 3 hours to spare. But I wasn't bored, like I was at Gatwick. I didn't feel like I was lacking in anything to keep me occupied, in terms of material or anything on me. I looked up. I looked up and around and started noticing things with others, instead of noticing anything to do with me. 

The women directly opposite was quite young. She had bright turquoise tights on, and big hair, with a pen behind her ear. She's creative, I assume, and writes whenever she wants. She was sitting cross legged on the chair, bent over a book and chewing her fingers. Not even her nails, her fingers. A good book, obviously. You could tell by the crinkles in her forehead and her not realising the man next to her staring. He was a lot more relaxed, also reading a book, and had a black polo top on and black square glasses. They'd be good together, I thought, and soon enough she was giggling at a remark he made, swirling a section of her hair between her chewed fingers and ignoring the pen falling from behind her ear onto the floor. 

There were 2 boys sitting behind them, probably the same age as me. One was tall and blonde, with a red cap on backwards, and the other as dark haired, shorter, with glasses. Both with thick black coats on, and creased over laughing. I wonder what about. Maybe they're laughing at memories of the past week, or at someone around them,  or maybe one just said 'willy'. The dark haired one leaned back after a while, and the blonde held his head at his knees. Well, it WAS nearly 10pm and 3am in the UK. Maybe their poor little bodies were still suffering from jet lag. Bless.

One girl down the row of my seats hadn't got off her phone for hours. A black girl, slightly older than me, with a propa Laandan accen?. You couldn't miss her. Bright yellow hoody, jeans, UGG boots, a small patterned suitcase, and a designer tan handbag. A red streak in her hair and long acrylic nails. Shame her cared for look didn't match her stroppy, moody personality. I shouldn't judge, she may have had trouble, but she was rude, and there isn't any excuse for that. As the flight started to board, she was up like a shot and someone nudged her as they scrambled into a line. She gave him the once over and swished her high ponytail while rolling her eyes. I decided I wouldn't talk to her.

I didn't really like the couple in front either. Older couple, in typical travelling tracksuits. He had a phenomenal white moustache going on, which was an ace comparison to his baldness, and old skool big headphones draped around his neck. But whenever he leaned forward, with his eyes closed, she immediately massaged his shoulders. Not one word spoken between them. They seemed happy, nonetheless, but something made me uncomfortable and twitch. 

As the Gate lounge emptied, and the boarding line shortened, a family in a kerfuffle tagged on at the end. Mum, dad, 2 boys, 1 girl. The girl must have been about 8 years old, and was decked out in designer clothing, clutching a big teddy and Hollister bag. Shouldn't judge that sight either, as I was sitting in my new Abercrombie & Fitch hoody, but I decided she was spoilt anyway. The older boys were totally different. The eldest, about 14, had broken his arm. Maybe he'd done it skiing. He was looking down, scuffing his trainers, while his younger brother, 11? was moaning at his dad about something. The poor parents looked tired and ignored everything around them; solely focused on 'getting on that bloody plane home'.

Finally, they called my seat, and maybe I was the one then being thought about. I wouldn't have minded. I always wonder how people perceive me from the outside. I see me in the mirror, and I see me in photos, then videos, then dreams, then opinions, and they're all so different. Maybe it'd be nice to have someone analyse you without knowing anything about you. Whenever someone says "You're so *enter quality here*" I either don't agree, or have never thought about me being like that. It's odd, the notion of someone knowing something about you that you don't even recognise. It starts that age old debating about whether you're destined and pre-set from the start, or whether you choose what you're like. I have no idea what I'm like and hope that somewhere someone has written something about me. Tabula Rasa. Blank slate. 

It was only when I was sat in my seat, that I realised again what I was actually doing. Going home. I'd spent so long noticing everything around me that I forgot me. Which was pretty awesome, while it lasted. A rather attractive man sat down next to me and opened a book, so I opened mine. He helped me switch on the light above and I helped him figure out movie channels. Then I noticed red stains on his jeans and thought he must be a murderer so shot my fantasy down.

I didn't want to come home. But like every experience, it changed home. I want to know about people and have them intrigue me, because I'm fed up of being stuck around me. Yes, I'm insinuating that I'm selfish and self-centred, essentially. I'm walking talking human instinct, but what makes us incredible is that we can reason and socialise and use language. So I'm going to do it. Rack up the confidence my cousins have over the sea and go out and talk, and do stuff, and meet people. Maybe I'm stating the obvious with all of this, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious because that's the basis of everything else. 

Life Lessons with Louise over, you are dismissed. 

         Well I had to get one mental photo at the airport, as well as being                   intellectually sophisticated, otherwise people would start worry. 

25 Feb 2012

Your mission, should you choose to accept: Cross the Atlantic on your own. LOL.

"Right. Well. I can't go any further now, you're on your own."

I was biting down on my passport and boarding card so tightly inbetween my teeth that dad had to prise them out slowly, while my eyes were fixed on the security archways, like I was a teething baby. Up until that point, everything had been fine. I'd checked in fine, sent my suitcase off, answered "WINDOW!!1!!!1!1!" before the check in girl had even finished her seat preference question. Now, dad was yabbering away with "Text mum when you're on the plane. Actually, text her when you're through security, then sitting down in the lounge, then walking to the gate. She's your mum. I'm surprised she hasn't phoned to ask if you got up these escalators okay." I wasn't really listening. I was focusing more on the lack of saliva in my mouth, lips looking like they'd been fighting a cheese grater, and sweaty palms, smearing the ink on the boarding card. Now I didn't know whether I was in seat 23 or 38.

"I thought I'd booked a plane, not a tube! Haha! HAHAHAHAHA! Ah." The woman manning the new security gate just stared at me, chewing gum, with a look of 'bitch that's the 8th time I've heard that joke just this morning now leave' on her ever drooping face. I was hysterical. My emotions had gone haywire, and if no one was finding me funny in England then I had no hope in Canada. "REMEMBER TO EMAIL WHEN YOU GET THERE!" dad called, before I was directed into a line and people blocked my view behind me. Then he was gone. I was now totally alone and, somehow, had to get over the Atlantic by myself.

"Shoes off." Rude. Please and a smile would be nice. The archway had bleeped and a woman frisked me like a dog with two penises (that's the first simile that came to me, i'm really sorry). But she really did frisk me and I was glad I'd put my best fitting bra on. By the time I'd made it to the lounge, I felt rather exposed so went and bought a load of chocolate and handcream. My hands were flaking and I genuinely thought someone would think I had a disease and subsequently not let me on the plane. Turns out, putting handcream on incredibly dry hands isn't the best thing to do. They turned a shocking red colour, accompanied by a screaming rash and I swear to God they were vibrating. What the bloody hell was I meant to do now? I sat in the lounge, a quizzical expression staring at these anthropomorphised hands, and said "Oh dear.", acquiring the attention of the woman next to me who also adopted the quizzical expression. They effing hurt! No time to ask for help though, because my flight was called. I was now a flakey, rashy, chapped, dry, sweaty disaster. This wasn't starting to feel like such a good idea after all.

Thankfully by the time I was at the gate, my hands stopped their screaming and calmed down. They'd realised I was only trying to help them. I phoned my nan, who made me go through the brace position with her and what to do if my toes got too cold in Canada. I phoned mum, who wanted to know the demographic of my flight. I phoned Megan, who gave me strict instructions for capturing Justin Bieber, and I was going to phone others before the man next to me did a massive sigh so I thought better of it. Excitement took over fear now. I bloody love planes, and had a perfect window seat by the wing of the plane. I could see the flappy bits come out and the wind against the metal, looking like the monster bin in Monster Cafe. I'm glad you understand what I'm talking about. Just before we took off, a man on a crane sprayed green liquid all over the wings. I have never seen that before but it's obviously necessary so I gave him a massive grin and enthusiastic thumbs up. Unlike gum woman, he actually responded, in typical British fashion with a tight smile and short nod. Success.

I was proud of myself for not constantly manically hitting the woman next to me as we were taking off, like I would have done with mum, reminding her that "WE'RE GOING WE'RE GOING WE'RE GOING WE'RE GOING FASTER FASTER FASTER SCREAM WE'RE IN THE AIR I'M FLYING SCREAM HIGHER HAHAHA OW MY EARS HAHA MAKE IT STOP NO SERIOUSLY." Although I MAY have done, because I'm adamant she was poking and prodding me on purpose as I tried to sleep in the most awkward position. I woke up with my mouth open, face planted against my engraved cased phone...yep...which was now indented on my cheek. This was going WELL. My full page drawing of different sized circles, and bark laughs at watching Happy Feet on my phone, didn't really evoke the best of me and the woman did at one point ask if I was okay, with a slight head tilt and eyebrow raise. I muttered "Fine thanks" as tears streamed down my indented cheeks, and I wiped them away with my slightly rashy hands.

The annoying woman did come in handy, however, as we had to fill out our Canadian declaration forms before landing. If I'd have been left to my own devices, I would have said I was born on the 93rd September in 2009, making me a smart 2 year old making virtuous errors with nice handwriting. I had to really think about my nationality, am I English or British? Do I have animals in my luggage? How long am I staying here for again? I almost wrote H O P E L E S S as my name. But I did it, and we landed, and all I had to do now was get through tight customs, get my case, and find my auntie.

I waited at customs for over an hour.

Over an hour.

I didn't have WiFi.. I'd run out of water. I'd run out of chocolate. My feet hurt. It was hot. I was BORED. I watched the customs lady interrogate our flight like we'd committed murders whilst illegally downloading films onto stolen laptops at the same time. By the time I got there, I'd formulated answers to every possible question she could throw at me. "Have you ever caused harm to another human being?" "Matt punched me first." "Do you have any plans to take large quantities of food through?" "Our chocolate is better than yours." "What are your plans for the immediate future?" "Get through your questioning then eat said chocolate." But in reality all she asked me was, "Who are you staying with?" and I growled an answer of "My aundee" because I hadn't spoken in a long time and my mouth was still dry. I legged it before she could rethink my poor existence.

My suitcase has a red strap with my name on (thanks mum), so it's always easy to spot. So I stood, and I waited. People arrived, people left. The belt emptied. I waited. After 20 minutes, I was sure my suitcase was lost. There was one suitcase that went past me three times, identical to mine. But it didn't have the red strap. So it wasn't mine. "Are, are there any more to, er, come out?" I stuttered to an airport employee who cheerfully said "Nope!" before asking how I was and where I was from and "YOU'RE ADORABLE!" and I was definitely in Canada now. Turns out, if a case looks like yours and hasn't been picked up after the fourth time it's been round, IT'S BLOODY YOURS. My strap was lost/stolen/smart by finding a new sane owner, but I had everything now. I ran towards Arrivals where my auntie was waiting with a flashing camera, and collapsed on her repeating "I did it. I bloody did it."

Because I did. I got to Canada by myself. I was, officially, a clever, independent, adventurous, confident woman.


Kind of.

                                    Survival confirmation for mum 

9 Feb 2012

Project Perfect

I went shopping to Westfield with one of my best friends, Gen, last night. Gen is tall, skinny, and blonde *look to camera*. But there was a moment during our spree, and I use that word in the most elasticated term, when she was sighing and mumbling, head deep amongst underwear rails, sifting through to find her size. She couldn't and started moaning at me about having small boobs. (I'll buy her food to make up for this public tit description.)

It was funny, seeing this generically perfect specimen having a proper strop over it, because I've never had that problem. It's the one thing I've never had to worry about. I thought, "Sweet. Now we're even. She doesn't like her small boobs, I don't like my fat hips." But then I thought, "No. That's doesn't make us even at all, because there's nothing to get even about in the first place. Gen looks like Gen, and I look like me. Done."

I'm taking part in Project Perfect, set up by Amy who is rallying together bloggers to divulge in their flaws and express their assets, in order to show everyone that even those who maybe naturally conform to the media notion of 'perfect' aren't so. Also, to prove what should be an obvious point that everyone is totally unique and it's impossible to look the same as someone else. I wonder where this 'perfect look' came from. Who came up with it? I don't get it. It baffles me more that those who try and promote this perfection DON'T EVEN LOOK THAT WAY. 

So, firstly, a photo I like of myself and 3 reasons why:

1) I like my eyes. My eyes are ace. They are big and blue and if all else fails I will widen them and stare at you intently until you become captivated.

2) You can see the streak of blonde in my hair. I know it's black and white so you can't really tell, but I have blonde highlights and I'm so glad I went back to blonde. My hair's really thick too which, although can cause it to be bolshy and, in both sense of the term, big-headed, I know I'm lucky to have. I've learnt that big hair is good.

3) You can't see the state of my terrible skin! There's a reason why my chin's buried and somehow I managed to look posey instead of hidey. Points to Louise for clever framing.

I frustrate myself constantly by hating on parts of my body. I KNOW I shouldn't give a shit, and I KNOW I look okay, and I KNOW if I tried to look like others then I'd lose who I am, but I still look at myself sometimes and think, "Mate, what is going on with that flab on your hips. I mean really. Sort it out."

So, 3 things I DON'T like about the way I look, but they're just assets in disguise:

1) I stick out in bad places. My hips and my stomach in particular. I'm a size 12, which is fine and pretty average, but I'm fed up of not being about to wear tight fitting dresses. But then if I wore a tight fitting dress, I wouldn't be able to eat or indeed breathe. And food and oxygen are nice.

2) My skin is dreadful. It's getting better, to be fair, but the problem now is scarring. I've tried a gazillion face products, and at the moment the Elemis range and Garnier Exfo-Brusher Wash seem to be helping, along with make-up. All hail make-up. I've also learnt to guide people away from my skin by wearing more eye make-up or lipstick/lipgloss. Enhancing the positives. Anyway, I totally blame hormones for my skin and now I'm 18 it should naturally get better.

3) Hamster. You can't tell in that photo, but I have proper chubby cheeks and I'd rather have a more structured face shape to be fair. But then I'd look, well, structured, which is boring, and I suppose chubby cheeks can be cute.

See, changing your flaws into assets is easy. Your flaws aren't even flaws anyway; they're assets too and make you DIFFERENT. Different is just always promoted as bad, which is so ridiculous. Why on earth would you want to blend in to the crowd? I stare at photos on Facebook of girls all wearing the same types of dresses and heels, adopting the same pose with identical hairstyles and none stand out. I wouldn't want to talk to any one of those girls because they don't look individual. If you want to attract attention, why look the same? Do your own thing, you plum.

I don't usually watch TV shows like How To Look Good Naked, or 10 Years Younger, or Genericise Me (it's only a matter of time), but Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth had me hooked this week. I was meant to be involved in the show during production by interviewing Gok Wan about it, but timing got the better of it and I couldn't. I was gutted at the time, but GOOD GOK (lol) I was kicking myself in frustration after watching because the man's a hero. I want a Gok hug and pep talk. He brought a group of girls to tears after showing them the whole process of a magazine modelling shoot, and essentially told everyone that everything is going to be okay. Everything IS okay.

When you really think about it, you can say so many more good things about your body than bad. Accentuating the 'bad' is just a human condition which when stripped to the bare bones is a load of tosh. Basically we're a bunch of flapjacks who need a bit of perspective and confidence knocked into us. I like me.
I like YOU. You are brilliant. No, you are not perfect. Perfect is boring. Perfect, in an existential meaning, means you have nothing to work on or learn from. But you ARE brilliant, because you can realise you're not perfect. Superficiality is rubbish and I'd much rather focus on flaws in my personality. Flaws in your personality can potentially harm you and others, but what you look like can't.

*scans writing for clichés* Nope. All good.

Please get involved in this. If you blog, take part and write a Project Perfect post. Remember to link it to me too. I want to read about how goddamn hot you are. If you don't blog, just comment below with 3 things you like about the way you look, and 3 things you don't but then turn them into positives. It'll make you feel great, I promise.