Weird Things That Make Me Happy

Today has been dubbed ‘blue Monday’ because it’s apparently the saddest day of year. Just to recap, January is also famous for other fun loving days such as ‘divorce day’ and ‘fuck it, let’s make a suicide pact day’.

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In these times of winter gloom, it helps to know what makes you happy – what really makes you happy. Sure, in a survey you might list your sources of happiness to be your friends, your job, or even… your kids *shudder*. But these are pageant answers, publically acceptable responses that make you seem like a nice normal human.

What you need on a day like this is true joy, the joy that can only be gained from the weird stuff you watch cathartically on the internet. Such as…

That Soothing French Interview

I don’t know why but I find nice voices to be the most relaxing thing on earth. Renee Zellweger has one of these voices, but sadly my favourite interview of her isn’t on Youtube (it’s an interview she does for the ‘behind the scenes’ bit on the Miss Potter DVD). However, I found the next best thing when I discovered this old interview with French New Wave star Anna Karina.

There was a point last year when I listened to this video every night before I went to bed. It was my French bedtime story. I just like the way Anna can make ruffles look cool, or say things like ‘I didn’t eat for two weeks’ like it was no big deal. Also, at the end she puts on a wig. Just because.

Dogs 101

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out that Animal Planet have basically created a dog-lovers Nevada. The Dogs 101 series basically features a video on every.single.dog.breed. I have spend hours watching these videos and weighing up which breed is right for me (I’m not even getting a dog).

Some personal favourites of mine: the Labrador (obviously), pugs (their eyes can pop out – ew), and the weird mop dog.

Zalfie Vlogs

If I was a 13 year old girl there probably would be no shame attached to this activity, as it is I am 23 and yes… part of me is ashamed of loving Zalfie. However, there’s something that’s just so nice about watching two nice people just go about their day. They go shopping more than I can, they have a pug puppy, Zoella has a lot of time to get her make-up just right. It’s just all so nice.

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Of course, what they put on camera is probably very carefully edited but isn’t it reassuring that no matter how shitty you day, you have the guarantee that someone has been having a good day? God bless Zoella’s candle shopping.

Movie Trailers

I really enjoying being emotionally manipulated by instrumental music and choice sound bites. A good trailer is like crack for me. Here are some of my current favourites:

  • Selma
  • Tyrannosaurus (watch the actual film at your peril)
  • Revolutionary Road
  • Unbroken
  • Never Let me Go

This Guy

I don’t know how the internet survived before this guy appeared. He is our new God. The God of Swift Sass.

Life Lessons from ‘Girls’

Tonight is the night that think-piece lovers have all been waiting for… the return of HBO’s Girls!

Lena Dunham’s cult hit (I’m going to call it a cult hit, why? Because I have a keyboard) has been one of the most talked about shows in the blogosphere since it aired in 2012. A lot of us twenty-something ladies love it, a lot of angry white men hate it, and others like to reference it in dinner party conversations without actually having watched it because it makes them seem ‘current’.

Obviously because I am actually current (like Ribes nigrum baby – that’s a latin joke for blackcurrants #wow) I bloody adore this show. Sure, there have been times when I’ve wondered where anything was going. And yes, the characters do become unlikeable – but like, in a glorious ‘sticking-it-to-the-Mary-sue-archetype’ kind of way. And as a fan, I’d like to share with you some of the life lessons I have gained through my television lady-journey with Dunham.

Also, I like having an excuse to use Girl-related .gifs.

Only Kanye West should Kanye West

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Remember that scene when Marnie stands-up in front of an office party (not even her own office party) and sings a ‘stripped back’ version of Kanye West? If you can’t it might be because you instantly hit the mute button in order to avoid that weird stomach thing you get when watching something so embarrassing you feel like you might shit in order for it to end.

While poo-inducingly-awkward, this scene was very important for me. I’ve often had a little voice in my head whisper things like ‘I’m sure if you tried, you could really nail that Jay-Z and Kanye rap’. I’d like to think that the horror of Marnie’s musical venture has saved me from making a similar mistake at my Christmas party…

…however, at my last Christmas party I did sword fight with someone dressed as Zoro, so maybe the lesson hasn’t really stuck.

Getting Cut Off

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The whole show kicks off with Hannah getting financially cut off from her parents. It reveals a side to my generation that I’ve seen countless times, this notion of deserving help from the generations before. It’s understandable, we have to rent because our parents’ lot bought all the cheap houses, we have to struggle to work because of a recession we didn’t cause, and we have to make our lives look fabulous because some guy called Mark made social media the norm.

But here’s the thing, and it’s not a pretty thing – some people never get that support. I’ve been independent from a very early age. I worked through university, saved enough money to fund an internship and have long been resided to the idea that I’ll never be able to buy a house in London because no one is going to die and leave me a massive inheritance (and unless you want to go into insider trading, that is the only way people buy houses now). Therefore, it gave me great satisfaction to watch someone else get thrown into my position. It made me feel like ‘yes, let’s level the playing field so we’re all in this shit storm’.

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I don’t care if this shows a bitter part of my personality. I’m not actually going to start hacking parental bank accounts so that Tarquin doesn’t get his rent for that nice Kensington studio flat. It just feels good to watch it happen on screen because it makes me feel proud of being an independent woman.

Writing is Hard

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Having drowned a cup of watery opium pods, Hannah stumbles over to her parents to let them know that she is ‘the voice of her generation… or at least a voice… of a generation’. One of the show’s main plot points is Hannah and her dream of being a successful author. As someone who has an on and off again relationship with writing (hello my lonely blog posts of last year), Hannah’s inability to figure out how to be a writer in the modern world is something I can (kinda*) relate to.

*Okay, so I haven’t written a book of essays, but I do write some funny tweets.

Should she be the bohemian essay-writer, who goes to intellectual meetings to read what she’s been ‘working-on’? Should she go the cooperate route and sell her creative talent for real cash? And is it appropriate to chase up a book/ebook deal at a funeral?*

*Turns out, no it isn’t.

Hannah’s navigation of what it means to be a writer in the 21st Century demonstrates that our word-guzzling internet culture has created many avenues for writers but still has little chance of ‘from-ink-to-cash’ success. You can make money but not necessarily be creating the stuff you want to be creating, or you can be creative but never actually make any real money. So that’s… nice.

Hurray for pears

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There’s literally been a million and one articles written about Dunham and her frequent use of nudity – specifically her own. Most of the controversy stems from the fact that Dunham has a body shape that isn’t often represented on TV, eg. She hasn’t got wash-board abs.

All I can say on this matter is… hurray for pears! Hurray for the women who were given little bits on top and big stuff down below. Woohoo for women who can never buy bikinis in a set! Huzzah for ladies who can smack their thighs and get ripples!

Of course, all body shapes are beautiful and you should all take a moment to woohoo your own particular brand of woman-ness. And now that Lena has opened the floodgates for the great display of lady jiggle/no-jiggle, perhaps everyone will eventually get to watch TV and say ‘hey, her butt looks like my butt!’

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Disclaimer: I don’t own or make any of these .gifs. I just got them off Google images.

Girl talk? How about vagina talk?

We all have initiation rituals when it comes to female friends. Perhaps you like to welcome a new member to your friendship group by taking them to your favourite bar. Maybe you test the waters with a shopping trip. It may even be that you don’t consider yourself truly friends with someone until one of you has held the others hair as they puke into a toilet at Walkabout.

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While all of these rituals hold a certain level of charm, my favourite way to test the friendship waters is by talking about my vagina – in detail.

Now some of you may be recoiling at the idea about hearing about my vagina (which, FYI, is very hurtful to her), but hear me out. By talking about my vagina, I am giving a gift to the other person, a free pass if you will. It is my personal belief that every woman on the planet, who isn’t already doing so, is desperate to discuss their fun-fun parts.

It seems to me that there are a lot of things conspiring to keep the vagina hidden. Tampon adverts never discus where the tampon is going, thrush creams like to discuss the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ rather than saying ‘slather it on your vag’, and even the vagina itself lends itself to this agenda. Unlike a penis the vagina leaves no bulge, there’s no hint from a clothed woman that anything exists between her legs. And so, as things go, the vagina ends up un-discussed with no one inquiring about what exactly vaginas do.

Because vaginas do a lot of things that don’t fall under the categories of: give birth, pee and bleed once a month.

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Sometimes a vagina will become very sore, or itch, or go very dry. Sometimes they will leak or make a fart noise during sex (that’s called queefing children). And sure you can go to your GP with these problems (and you should), but you’ll never get that personal touch that goes beyond health statistics and a friendly nurse smile.

What a woman really needs when she’s having a bad vagina day is for another woman to turn to her and say: “ME TOO!”

This is why I like to offer this glorious avenue of conversation to the women in my life. Of course, you have to judge correctly whether or not your confession of feeling ‘yeasty’ today is going to go down well. This is not a conversation that you can just throw to the new supervisor at work after only meeting her 10 minutes ago. However, most of the time you’ll find that your vaginal confession will be met with a look of relief, like you’re finally unloading a secret that you’ve both been burdened by carrying.

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“Sandra,” you could say. “I feel like my vagina is doing something funny today.”

“Oh mine gets like that all the time. That’s why I drink so much cranberry juice.”

Women experience pressure on a daily basis to be perfect, no more so than when it comes to sex. For a woman experiencing thrush or cystitis for the first time, it can feel like you’re abnormal, like you’ve let the side down. Vaginas aren’t supposed to be itchy; they’re supposed to be little fun holes of perfect joy, right? Wrong.

It’s only by opening up these avenues of conversation that we can relieve some of the pressure women face.

Because, ladies, you will get thrush. And cystitis. And a whole host of other problems (just wait until you get pregnant or menopause). But why hide this away like it’s some dirty little secret? I’m not saying that we should announce our lady-part woes at a board meeting, but let’s not perpetuate this sexual-goddess bullshit.

Talk about your vaginas, you can thank me later.