Posts Tagged ‘femininity’

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onyx paradise.

April 11, 2010

Those of you who know me will know that my screen name for 85% of the forums that I use is “onyxparadise”.  Originally I only liked the ‘onyx’ aspect of the name (since the word looks and sounds pretty), but the name ‘onyx’ had been taken already on the forums I was interested in using at the time, and I was inspired by Britney Spears’ Onyx Hotel Tour.  Choosing an alternative, mysterious-sounding gemstone quickly became apparently not an option: “sapphire” and “topaz” (both in reference to my mother’s favourite stones, and both pretty-sounding words once again) were far too girly, so I thought about adding something to “onyx” to make it work.  Again “sunset” and “beach” sounded too feminine, but I hit upon the idea of “onyxparadise” and it had a magical, mysterious ring to it.  When I think of what the word represents, it symbolises some sort of fantasy faceted-glass multicoloured landscape within a gemstone.  I don’t know how to verbalise it better than that, but I know that those words create nothing close to the image / atmosphere in my head.

Returning to Britney Spears, she did teach me something interesting about the onyx: although the stone is traditionally black when we see it used in jewellery (and although black is my favourite “colour”, I’m not a fan of onyx jewellery), any light that shines into it can be refracted back out in a multitude of colours.  Now, Wikipedia tells me that this is false (or somewhat exaggerated at the very least) but I’m going to go with it because it supports the metaphor that I want to explore and essentially base the rest of this blog entry on.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt like I’ve had multiple personalities.  Different sides of myself expanded as I got older and I started to give them different names: Alan; Miles (ok that was ill-advised but he didn’t last long); AC; purehonesty; onyxparadise; Chase.  They embodied different things, different representations of me, and now I reflect upon it I see that onyxparadise was really the perfect name.  Rather than multiple personalities, I am one person with all these different facets, different colours, different aspects to my being.  Just like an onyx (or Britney Spears’ version of it, anyway).

Sometimes I feel like I keep getting it wrong: I hated the movie Kick Ass, which I went to see last night, because I could only see reference after reference to Kill Bill – at want point does a parody/homage become a rip-off? It must have just been me, as the vast majority of reviews online are hugely positive, but I guess I just didn’t get the sense of humour (though I enjoyed Hit Girl). I don’t eat pizzas quickly enough for my father to have as much space in the fridge as he would like, and the first thing he said to me this morning was “who opened the back door?” as if by getting my milk from the fridge I had unwittingly committed a cardinal sin.  It’s times like these that I feel socially awkward or incorrect (like when I confused the barista at Costa by barking at Toby not to be so healthy in his choice of biscotti, as he was making me look bad with my vanilla frescato and carrot cake), and it’s only recently that I’ve taken a personal stand not to let my family make me feel so ugly, because their problems are no reflection of me.

There is a facet of me that feels tough, dark and edgy.  I now have 3 tattoos, I dye my hair black on the regular, I smoke and drink and stay out late.  I’m still a good person, I have many friends and I work damn hard juggling studies and employment. So I feel I’m entitled to play hard, and I feel that at 24 years old I’ve proved to myself (and to anyone else, not that that matters) that I am intelligent and sensible enough to make my own decisions and to stand by them and live through the consequences, right or wrong.  By embracing that side of myself, I take less nonsense, stand up for myself more (although this is still a work in progress)and I feel that it’s been key in the shift in my life over the last 9 months to being much more happier and taking control.  I feel happier indulging the edgier, mysterious side of me, acknowledging there are dark depths of my personality and essence that I have yet to plumb, because it makes the light shine that much brighter too.

And now, I have some really good friends, people who are close to me.  If my family more and more are the source of unnecessary stress and drama in my life, then my friends feel like what my family should be.  So I almost glow when my new best friend tells me how glad he is to be friends with me; when my boyfriend tells me for the first time that he loves me.  These are experiences I never had before, that make me feel almost uncomfortably good because I am valued, I matter.  Sometimes being strong, being independent, being tough – even if it’s a self-fulfilling façade at times – is really lonely.  But it’s times like that, it’s times when Mike offers me to spend the day with him and his family, when Billy gives me a big hug and kiss before bedtime, when Toby holds me tight in his arms as we watch TV and I feel so safe, that I know I don’t have to be, don’t deserve to be alone.

I never used to wear designer clothes or jewellery.  I have never been a 32″ waist since I was a child, and I find it funny to be posing as a model in Toby’s photos on beautiful days walking around Bristol, because I always dreamed of being a model and assumed it was out of reach.  After the strife of growing up between my parents and their families, the violent alcohol-fuelled arguments and mental abuse I experienced as a child and adolescent, the periods of unhappy rebellion as a 16, 17, 18-year-old, the disappointment of not really knowing where I was going with my life having graduated from Oxford University, the turmoil of a year in retail unable to fulfil my potential, I finally get to experience everything slotting into place, the lights shining from the onyx in a rainbow of the right colours.  Life finally feels good, if not how I imagined it to be! So this entry is really personal to me, because it’s how I see that I’m a whole host of different things – I am one person with many different aspects, not all of them necessarily pretty but all of them important, all of them of value.

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the characterisation of cake.

August 1, 2009

While I was writing my previous blog entry, I was talking to one of my best friends Nana about cake.  We are both trying to get fit and not fat, and cake gets in the way.  Lately, my mother has been bringing home iced madeira cake, with little layers of cream and raspberry jam in the middle, and it’s absolutely delicious and irresistible, and plays havoc with my spreadsheet where I plot the nights that I do snack after dinner against the nights that I don’t (I have improved a lot in the last 5 months! I currently stand at not snacking 68% of nights, and my aim for August is to get to 75%).  This is the conversation (Nana is “Back in London”, I am “chase – lycanthropy” – but then, you didn’t need me to tell you that if you’ve been reading 😉 ) :

11:59:32 Back in London :-): ohhh yes

11:59:48 Back in London :-): ahh cake 😀

11:59:52 chase – lycanthropy: hah

11:59:58 chase – lycanthropy: cake is my friend and my enemy

12:00:15 Back in London :-): yes

12:00:23 Back in London :-): i have a love hate relationship with cake too

12:00:45 Back in London :-): he has me wrapped around his finger…

12:00:50 Back in London :-): makes me want him more when i know i shouldn’t

12:01:31 chase – lycanthropy: haha you think of cake as a man

12:01:34 chase – lycanthropy: i think of cake as a woman

12:01:39 chase – lycanthropy: but yes i know what you mean

12:01:47 chase – lycanthropy: iced madeira cake is especially tempting

12:01:52 chase – lycanthropy: also toffee cheesecake

12:01:58 chase – lycanthropy: (which is what my nan serves)

12:02:33 Back in London :-): omg

12:02:37 Back in London :-): maybe i should just come to bristol today

12:02:38 Back in London :-): lol

12:06:55 chase – lycanthropy: :p

12:07:05 chase – lycanthropy: i am going to write a blog about this conversation we have had about cake, you know

12:07:06 chase – lycanthropy: i can see it now

12:08:02 Back in London :-): hahaha

12:08:11 Back in London :-): i look forward to it 😉

12:08:13 chase – lycanthropy: 😀

The thing I find most interesting is that Nana thought of cake as a “male” thing, whereas I envisioned cake as more of a female temptress, weaving her web around me and drawing me in closer.  It’s funny how people’s minds work and differ.  I am used to the idea, after years and years of language study, of the idea of nouns being masculine or feminine; interestingly, “gâteau” is masculine in the French, and “pastel” in the Spanish is also masculine.  But “tarte” (French) and “tarta” (Spanish) are both feminine.  So unless we’re being really specific about what kind of cake we’re eating (whether it is a big cheesecake, or a slab of marble sponge), either gender could go.  I guess another reason why I think of cake as feminine is because until you’ve eaten 3 slices and it’s sitting in your stomach (something I genuinely don’t do very often, I promise), cake is a dainty, light creature, with pretty pastel colours of icing and soft, sweet flavours.  In other words, to me, cake isn’t exactly grr butch.  But obviously now I’m gender stereotyping, and I like people to think that I am sweet and seductive (at least some of the time, when my façade isn’t being icy cold).
I watched Transamerica and it’s funny how that film links in. I’m not going to do an in-depth review of it or anything, you can get those elsewhere.  But Felicity Huffman and Kevin Zegers both expertly played flawed yet beautiful characters who shone in the midst of an occasionally hokey script.  And we all have a quest to work out who we are, because society demands to put us in a box of its own conventions – he, she, gay, straight, etc.  We can’t just be because then nobody knows where they stand and how to “understand” us (the joke being that they’d rather not spend the time trying).  And I think, in a practical, day-to-day way, I can understand that.  If we spent time trying to suss out every single person who came our way and honestly made the effort to see who they really are, we’d never get anything done.  Labels never tell the whole story, but I can appreciate that they exist for a reason.  But when the label is wrong, then the misunderstood person has a lot of ground to catch up, all the while feeling like an outsider just waiting for someone to see the beauty of who they are, beyond what they are, regardless of sexuality or gender.  At least cake doesn’t have that problem – whether we think of it as a he or she, at least we are in no doubt as to how marvellous it both looks and tastes!
(ps. Nana, I hope you don’t mind me posting the snippet of our conversation up here – nothing private was said so I hope it is fine! Let me know 🙂 )