#Lifeskillz

I quite often feel like I don’t know how life works. All the things that other people instinctively know how to do, I haven’t got a clue about.

I could sit and collate a pretty long list of the things I can’t do that are second nature to everyone else. Finances bewilder me and I’m particularly crap at managing them. Even now I need to dose up on Rescue Remedy before logging into my bank account. Dating? I’ve never had a relationship that lasted longer than 4 months, unless we count the guy who I didn’t so much date, as have 10 years of one-night stands with. Other, really basic stuff: I’ve never learned how to drive; I don’t know how to update the iOS on any of my iProducts; I buy ready-made crumble topping rather than making my own.

This isn’t, however, a post celebrating my complete inability to function as a human being. Yes, I’m sometimes embarrassed by the gaps in my knowledge, just not necessarily enough to do anything about them. You can find instructions for just about anything on YouTube these days.

The thing that really worries me is that sometimes I feel totally alone in feeling like a failure. I know I shouldn’t compare myself to other people but so many of my friends just have their shit totally together.

Turns out that actually we’re all just really good at faking it.

A few months back I had lunch with A, who is lovely, but also a Type-A overachiever. Over our starters she completely floored me by saying she felt defined solely by her job (please don’t ask me what she does, I will tell you she’s a transponster), rather than any of her interests. In fact, she wasn’t really sure she had any interests.

Once I’d picked my dropped cutlery (and also my jaw) off the floor I told her she was batshit crazy and listed all the amazing things she does, and admitted that on more than one occasion I’d compared myself to her, and found myself wanting. Then she dropped her cutlery on the floor and said the same to me. At which point we cackled in a manner unbecoming for such a posh restaurant and got stuck into the wine.

I got a phone call last week from a former colleague asking me if I would mentor her as she tries to get a new business off the ground, which means either she’s so badly-connected I’m the only help she can get, or possibly, just possibly, I’m not as bad at everything as I think I am.

I’ve been trying to write a ‘Oh fuck I’m nearly 40 post’ for months, but it keeps coming out as a litany of my epic shitness and “OH THE MISERY!”, which, let’s face it, no-one wants to read. So instead I decided false modesty can do one and list 10 things that I really, REALLY like about myself.

I’m handy in a pub quiz. Scoff all you like, but I bet you never won the pop quiz at the Mucky Duck because you recognised Phil Collins’ ‘Another Day in Paradise’ on the strength of one drumbeat.

I make cracking Spotify playlists. It is one of my greatest sadnesses in life that the youth of today will never know the absolute joy of making someone a mixtape on a BASF 90 minute cassette.

I’m kind to animals. If you are furry and have 4 legs, the chances are I already like you more than 92% of my family. My best mate may call me Lenny, but I choose to see this as affection rather than a throwback to the time I accidentally squished one of my rodents.

I make a really good chilli con carne. It has chocolate in it. It’s been tweaked over the years but this is basically it. Don’t use as many kidney beans as they suggest.

I take a lovely photo. It’s only over the last few years I’ve rediscovered how much I love photography. In a parallel universe there’s a version of me who’s travelling the world with only a rucksack, a camera, and 40 rolls of film, because a. it sounds romantic and adventurous and b. my photography-career aspirations were formed in the pre-digital era.

My face gives me away, every time. I might not be very good at telling you what I’m really thinking, but luckily my facial features have no such reservations. My nostrils get particularly flary when I’m unhappy and my left eyebrow once gave one of my friends the raging horn, which I wear as a badge of honour.

I will laugh (loudly) at the stupidest jokes.

What did the cheese say when it looked in the mirror?

Halloumi!

Although I’ll judge you slightly (OK, a lot) if you haven’t seen a film I like, I’ll happily lend you the DVD. This is why the copy of The Crow currently sitting on my case is probably the 7th I’ve bought.

I enjoy creative swearwords. Shitford, fuck-knuckle and staggering thundercunt are just three of my particular favourites. Not that it’s particularly sweary, but someone used the phrase ‘fussy mummyblog ninnyhonker’ on Twitter the other day and I laughed for an hour.

I make a reet good brew. I firmly believe that 97.3% of the world’s problems could be solved if everyone just sat down for a mug of Yorkshire Tea. Milk, no sugar, chocolate hob-nobs on the side.

I still think I should probably know how to do more than I actually do, but there’s time enough to learn. And in the meantime Sainsbury’s do a perfectly good crumble mix.

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NYNM#3: That’s a wrap

31 – 0!

This year seemed, on the whole, like a breeze. Perhaps not going out and getting shitfaced on random weeknights helped me focus.

So – takeaways from the month…

  1. I have total rage about people apologising for working with Woody Allen. Obviously no one knows what really happened between him and Dylan Farrow, BUT the ‘Woody Allen’ debate has been raging for years, ever since he got together with Soon-Yi, so it’s not like there hasn’t been a question mark over his name since the 1990s. People chose to work with him because they thought he was the path to awards and critical credibility, so saying ‘I took bad advice’ is bullshit. On that note, this Scott Rosenberg article about Weinstein is totally worth a read. Remember that actors lie for a living, and that Mia Farrow hasn’t apologised for Rosemary’s Baby.
  2. I quite like Noah Baumbach’s films.
  3. Male writers/directors can be quite mansplainy, can’t they?
  4. Liam Neeson needs to stop it.
  5. Frances McDormand is bloody good, isn’t she?

I have more to write I’m sure on all the above, however I have a very pressing need to watch some Baby Groot.

Groot

NYNM#3: Dr Google

The Italian is a total hypochondriac. Sneeze near him and he immediately thinks he’s going to catch the flu from you. I’m not even joking that after watching this he was googling symptoms, convinced he also had A Big Sick.

31: The Big Sick (2017)

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“Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.”

As much as I want to believe that love is dead, it’s films like this that keep my secret optimism alight, like a dusty tealight that’s burnt right down to the wick, and is about to go out. It’s sweet, not in a nasty, saccharine Richard Curtis way, but in a ‘yep, people fuck up, deal with it’ way – ‘real’ relationships, not your basic Love is a Many Splendid Thing, all soft-focus and that bullshit. I laughed for about a year when Emily gets up in the middle of the night to go to the diner down the street but won’t say why. I won’t spoil it but, yep – been there, done that.

Great movie to end the month on, definitely worth a watch. 8.5/10.

 

NYNM#3: You can’t make this sh*t up

I studied Theatre and Film at college, and we made more than our fair share of painfully overwrought student ‘pieces’. In one I was birthed through a man’s legs as a screen in the background played a loop of fruit being sculpted into phallic shapes, in another I was both the dead soldier and his gravestone as we bellowed war poems around the Quad.

I fucking loved college.

30. We’re No Animals (2013)

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“A Hollywood actor grows tired of making the same corporate movies, so he moves to Argentina to find more experimental and meaningful work.”

The best thing about this movie was that it started with a quote by Artaud, allowing me to crap on about The Theatre of Cruelty to my flatmates, which they were honestly thrilled about. They love it when I crap on about theatre. No really, they do.

As for the rest of it… put it this way – if my favourite lecturer Bill had been grading We’re No Animals, I’m pretty sure he would have  put it slightly above me masturbating with a papier mache thigh bone, but way below Andy and Jim drilling through a pigs head. 5/10.

NYNM #3: Hmm.

The Italian’s choice, making up for his snafu with The Grey.

29. Certain Women (2016)

The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail.

I know nothing about Montana, aside from knowing Robert Redford has his Sundance Ranch there (and I’m not even 100% about that).

This little curio is based on three short stories all taking place there, and man alive it’s beautiful but the settings are bleak, although the Rocky Mountain backdrop is stunning. We’re watching workaday lives that are slow and sometimes monotonous and full of frustration.

I don’t know how it made me feel, if I’m honest. Technically it’s incredibly good (even though I think Kristen Stewart is too mannered and self-conscious, it hauls you right out of the narrative) and the short stories are lovely little gems. I think I felt a bit wistful afterwards and I’m not sure why. 8/10.

NYNM#3: Huh?

The smell of weed really upsets me. It’s possibly because I’m beyond useless at smoking it. I generally go quiet, go white, and then I get up to go puke.

28. Inherent Vice (2014)

In 1970, drug-fueled Los Angeles private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of a former girlfriend.

Couldn’t tell you in any great detail what happened in this film, it was so sprawling and rambly that it was kind of difficult to keep track, a bit like an overlong Shane Black film.

Not dreadful by any stretch, but by the time I’d figured out I wasn’t really into it I’d already invested too much time in it. 7/10.

NYNM#3: The Altar of Winslet

I bloody love Kate Winslet. I mean, her husband has a ridiculous name and she’s mates with Richard Branson, but apart from that I think she’s marvellous.

27. Labor Day (2013)

Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.

Hmm. I feel very conflicted about this.

On one hand I’m not at all on board with its ‘all women really want is to be rescued by a man’ undertones, but at the same time I kind of understood it (this is my blog and I can be contrary if I want to).

This isn’t the greatest film ever made but I really liked it. Strong performances from La Winslet and Josh Brolin (who will never not be Brand from The Goonies to me) kept me watching from till the end, when I admit I may have had something in my eye.

Two things I did 100% agree with, though: 1. Kids ruin everything 2. There is nothing in the world that cannot be fixed by pie. 8/10.