Posts Tagged ‘relax’

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last Christmas.

December 15, 2012

I remember when I started this blog that I would write quite lengthy, detailed posts about my personal life and about all of my feelings and experiences. This blog has been around for over 3 years and during that time my life has transformed in a lot of ways: I did a postgrad, started working in jobs I actually wanted, learned to drive and bought a car, entered a long-term relationship, moved to London and supported myself, moved in with my boyfriend… I made the decision not to talk about my relationship in too much detail because I feel that my private life is just for me and for Toby – but he informs everything I do now and is such a big part of me that every post on here, more or less, is influenced by him or concerns him to some degree.

Although I am certainly more mature and guarded about what I choose to post on the internet, sometimes I miss the honesty and openness with which I used to post. Sometimes, when I have dilemmas in my life, I find myself typing my question into Google in search of some advice. And sometimes I find some decent food for thought, whereas other times there’s just nothing sensible or nothing that quite touches the nature of what I am going through. But on those occasions where I do find something that can help me, through offering a kindred voice or shedding an alternative perspective on a situation, it’s really valuable. And so I have decided that in this post, I am going to be honest and talk about what is on my mind, in the hope that one day someone else might find my post and it might help them to know that they are not alone.

Yesterday I was speaking to my mother on the phone and apropos of nothing, she asked me that when I am in Bristol for Christmas, that I don’t voluntarily reveal the fact that I am gay and in a healthy, happy long-term relationship with my partner. The reason for this is that my uncle and aunt are coming up from Melbourne for the holiday to visit my grandmother. My cousin (my uncle and aunt’s daughter) has been living in Bristol with my grandmother for the past six months, and during this time she has demonstrated that she has grown up a lot from the irksome child and teenager that she was when I had previously met her. And yet the other day, my mother was having a conversation with her and my grandmother, and my cousin asks “how is Alan getting on with his flatmate?” Toby is my boyfriend, my lover, my partner with whom I share a flat – but he is so much more than my “flatmate” that I paused a little bit – because surely this is obvious, and my cousin (whose recent displays of emotional intelligence lead me to believe that she would have caught onto this) must know that Toby is my boyfriend. My mum then told me that my cousin has revealed in the past that my uncle (who has hitherto always been nice to me) “hates certain celebrity chefs because they are gay” apparently. And so, my mother has asked me not to volunteer any information about Toby to “keep the peace on Christmas Day” and to keep my grandmother happy, because otherwise relatives’ reactions “may cause a scene and my grandmother will get upset.”

What the fuck.

I am not at all angry at my mother for wanting a peaceful Christmas – it’s perfectly understandable. My mother’s side of the family is Italian (and therefore Catholic, although I wouldn’t describe them as religious with the exception of my grandmother who goes to church twice a week – but only since my grandfather passed away 5 years ago). But I have introduced Toby to my father (who has made crass comments about gay people in the past but has never been anything but welcoming of Toby and supportive of me in my relationship – I feel that his macho posturing isn’t really indicative of his views, which annoys me somewhat – why does he even need to act a certain way therefore? But I appreciate the fact that he is accepting of me) and everything has been fine – Toby has never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome in my parents’ home. My grandmother has met Toby a few times now and they get on ok too – neither is my grandmother stupid; she knows who he is to me, even if she doesn’t say it out loud. But here lies the crux of the problem – everybody knows, but nobody wants to talk about it. Everybody is actually fine with my sexuality, but everybody seems to think that they are the only “enlightened one” and that nobody else approves. So it remains a big open secret. Which to me is partly laughable, but also quite painful because I have absolutely no shame in having found a man that I love with all my heart, and having established a strong and secure relationship with him. Shouldn’t this be something that could be appreciated, if it’s too much to ask for it to be celebrated? Why do I have to keep quiet about the most positive (out of a range of very positive things in my life) part of who I am today?

I have always been the Beyoncé of the family, if you will. (Prepare for me to toot my own horn in the next couple of sentences.) Not only because I’m musically talented, but I am the only person on my mother’s side of the family to go to university, let alone to the University of Oxford and then on to achieve a postgraduate qualification afterwards. I am the only one who has successfully moved out of Bristol. I’m the slimmest and most fashionable out of me and my cousins. I have an interesting job which pays a decent wage (but more about that in another post, as I have an announcement to make!). I am 27 years old and I have done pretty well so far (with some wobbles along the way – but hey, that’s life right?). With all of this hard work (which was for myself, but it didn’t hurt that it pleased others also), it would appear that the fact that I am gay, that I happen to be attracted to men, and that I have now built a life for myself with another man whom I love deeply, resets everything. I will never be good enough, and no matter what I did or what I achieve in the future, I never had a chance at being “good enough” because of my sexuality, which is something I cannot control. I love being gay, I love Toby, I am very happy with my life and with myself (apart from the fact that I ought to quit smoking and that next year I am going to lose weight – but there’s a forthcoming post for that too because my musical goals and my aesthetic aims are going hand in hand in 2013).  And I can’t talk about any of it, because other people may react to it, and it may upset someone else. Well, it upsets me! What about that?

Back to the phone call. So my mother asked this favour of me. I fell silent, and I said that I didn’t know if I could do that – I certainly couldn’t promise anything. I know that she understands, and I know that she didn’t like asking, and I am not angry at her. But I am angry at my family because I am never going to be good enough, and I am not able to relax and completely be myself. I told my mother that I didn’t understand why I should compromise myself. It’s not natural for one to shout their gayness or their homosexual monogamous relationship upon entering a room – this is not my intention. But I am 27 years old, and I am not afraid of them anymore – I have built my own life, and at the end of the day, I don’t live in Bristol and I don’t need the validation of my family. It’s nice if I could feel comfortable with them – but if that’s not going to be a possibility, c’est la vie. I will choose Toby over them, if it has to come to it. I am sad that it might have to come to that – but maybe we can’t have everything. I have a lot, and that’s enough. But I refuse to be intimidated by small-minded, low-aspiring people. I don’t even really know if they are small-minded – this is all just rumour and myth. But after all – I’d better not say anything, just in case.

I want everyone to have a lovely Christmas day. I want Toby to feel welcome when he comes to Bristol, and the fact that he does perplexes me even more in light of this request. I don’t want my grandmother to be upset, and I don’t want anybody to cause a scene. But it’s not my fault if they cause a scene because of their own prejudice, surely? I don’t understand why I have to conceal, compromise and sacrifice my identity in the presence of people whom I see only occasionally, and who are my frickin’ family, so as not to rock a phantom boat. Am I being unreasonable? Because perhaps it’s not such a big thing to ask, for one day. But then, to me, it’s not really about one family day – it’s about me being denied the ability to openly be myself, to celebrate all of the things I have achieved and the precious gift of Toby’s presence in my life. He is wonderful, and I don’t see why I have to downplay this. I’m not going to shout it from the rooftops (though sometimes I want to! 🙂 ) because that would be unnatural, but neither am I going to lie about it because that is no more natural either.

This is bringing me to the sad conclusion that, whether or not a scene occurs, I feel like this will be my last Christmas in Bristol with my family, for at least a while. I don’t want to hurt my family by not celebrating with them, but at the same time I am an adult now, with the right to live my own life. (I can’t lie – it will be nice to actually not do a big travelling jaunt for one year.) I’m old enough to make my own decisions and to choose to stand my ground and enjoy my life in my own home. I have proven my worth time and again, and I now have the flat, the job, the relationship – the evidence to show for it. It’s not my fault that my family members may be insecure or jealous, and I don’t see why I should compromise myself to appease any inadequacies they may or may not feel. It’s not my problem. If I cannot be myself on Christmas day, then maybe next year it has finally come to the point where I’ve got to start making my own traditions, and if it means being by myself then hey – I’ll do it. I would never begrudge Toby going to spend time with his family, and maybe I would be able to join them instead. I don’t know – this whole situation has thrown me into a realm of “I don’t know”. What I do know is that I won’t lie, I won’t hide, and I won’t be ashamed. I am strong enough and secure enough to stand alone – I’d rather not have to, but if that’s the way it has to be then so be it. A part of me hopes I’ll be pleasantly surprised this Christmas and all these worries and postulations will count for nothing. I really don’t know what will happen – I am confident that I feel the right way about the situation, but I hope that I will have the grace and the presence of mind to react correctly and in a dignified manner to whatever situation arises.

I’ll let you know.

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london calling.

August 6, 2010

So I’m in London again spending the weekend with Toby, and already it’s turning out to be a sociable weekend. Toby left me in bed this morning to go to work (which felt half sad, half decadent) and since then I’ve been out to meet up with my friend Sarah for the first time in ages. She texted me impromptu, said she was free, was I free, and we took it from there!  Caught up on lots of gossip and exchanged stories about our lives, a lot has changed! After that I went to Oxford Circus, where I wandered around the shops, picked up Janelle Monáe’s Metropolis I: The Chase Suite and Vivian Green’s Beautiful albums, went to Selfridges for the first time and had to resist spending £30 on a Thierry Mugler book, and decided not to go anywhere for lunch there because all the cafés were ridiculously crowded.

So as the weather was overcast but pleasant, I decided to walk through Hyde Park to Knightsbridge, where I am now writing upstairs in a very crowded, cramped Starbucks while I drink a strawberries & cream frappuccino. After this, I intend to walk to the Saatchi Gallery (I’m doing a lot of walking in an effort to keep fit and also do some sightseeing along the way!) and have a cultural afternoon wandering around there before going to meet Toby at Gloucester Road once he finishes work.  I bank on a relaxed evening tonight eating something yummy and hopefully watching Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which I purchased last week on a whim and fell in love with (unnecessary racist caricature Mr. Yunioshi aside). Tomorrow Toby, Claire (his housemate), Nana and I intend to go shopping round Westfield before we have Toby’s housewarming neon-themed party in the evening. Then it’s back home Sunday afternoon!

This is basically an itinerary, but I wanted to jot it all down to show how exciting London is.  I’ve been here for 3 long weekends now, and although at first in the face of ‘real London’ (I’d only ever been to Leicester Square and Oxford Street in the past), I felt lost and swamped, I’ve grown to love its sprawling commerce coupled with quiet, sedate residential areas that make Bristol look like a grimy speck in comparison to LDN’s magnitude. Sure, I haven’t explored all of London and I haven’t yet been around any of the rougher areas, but I like what I’ve seen so far.  In addition, it’s refreshing to enjoy a speedy, reliable public transport system (the Underground) which makes Bristol’s bus system look pathetic, and I love bumping into my friends and being able to socialise at a moment’s notice, which to be fair I can do in Bristol.

Two other things I’ve learned:

  • Walking around London with a full bag carrying my laptop is agony after a while!
  • My love affair for Starbucks does not apply to London. The Starbuckses here are crowded and cramped, and I was refused my free filter coffee refill here.  On this count, Bristol comes out firmly on top, because the service is nice and friendly, and the cafés are relaxing, tranquil places to go rather than a fight over seating space. Nevertheless, I’ve manoeuvred myself into a nice corner and am happily typing away on my laptop, so it’s not all bad!

Could I see myself living in London in the future? It depends what happens; I’m not thinking about that right now as I’m about to start my new job at Cirencester College on Monday 16th, and I intend to stay there for at least a couple of years; in a year’s time, I’m hoping to do the masters in Careers Guidance at UWE and hopefully gain an MA in Education.  I also appreciate that while London is exciting because it’s a big step up from Bristol in terms of its urban landscape, fast pace of life and shopping potential, I enjoy the fact that Bristol (although it’s a fairly-sized city) now feels intimate and familiar, and I have plenty of friends there as well as my family, whom I wouldn’t want to be far from (although they drive me mad on the regular). It depends how Toby and I progress as a couple too; where he sees his future is going to have a large impact on where I see mine.  I try not to talk about it too much because I don’t want to get too heavy and risk freaking him out, but I feel like now that I’ve overcome all of my initial neuroses about our relationship, I can see myself being with him for a long time. So I’m prepared to compromise to be where he wants to be, and I’m sure he’ll do the same for me.  Watch this space. But my priorities for now are car, move out into my own flat, tone stomach and allow my relationship to continue to grow. 🙂

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speechless.

February 25, 2010

So I’m sat in Starbucks in Cabot Circus having finally gained access to the internet (BT Openzone has a lot to answer for… hijacking my browser and not letting me get to the Starbucks page however hard I try – I do have better things to do than sit here and refresh the page!… probably.) and I have felt determined to blog since I got here.  I’m consuming far too much coffee lately and I generally need to cut down on food – not that it’s showing; I appreciate my new metabolism every day and I pray it never leaves! – so I thought I would take the time to write something to you all and write about things that are on my mind.  Usually this isn’t a problem for me, but now I’m at my keyboard and I don’t really know what to say.  I have my book (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – I’m only 100 pages through so far but I’m enjoying it, more than I expected to in fact!) and Sade’s fantastic new album Soldier Of Love is playing on my iPod, so I’m feeling chilled.  My fingertips are typing away but is any of this of substance?  I don’t think so.  So let me try and write something of value.

Yesterday I got a bit irritated with a couple of bossy people in uni, but it wasn’t really a big deal.  However, my mood lingered and wouldn’t quite lift. I went to WHSmiths (after a tour of central Bristol shops) and bought Mike and Caroline the first season of True Blood on DVD as a thankyou gift for everything they mean to me, and all that they’ve done for me in the past six months.  And then I went to Starbucks, sat and read my book, and decided to continue on my strategy of letting people know how much I appreciate them.  I spoke to Hannah and we conversed about love, life and self-esteem, and then I met up with Toby and decided to tell my boyfriend that although sometimes I’m a bit emotionally wary or quiet, I appreciate him so much and the reason I get nervous is because nobody ever really treated me, as a boyfriend, the way that he does.  He’s a good man and I’m going to hold onto him, and although I don’t always say it, I appreciate what he’s done for me and what he means to me too.  It was nothing to do with why I was a bit grumpy before, but it made me feel better, because generally we don’t tell people close to us enough how much we appreciate them.  So I’m going to try and do that a little bit more, rather than everyone just taking their friendships and relationships for granted.  I am good at speaking confidently, so while I’m doing that I might as well say things that are worth saying!

Today I finished my essay at uni with Mike, tried and failed to find Ness in the café, and now I’m here in Starbucks again.  Although I mainly come here because I don’t really want to go home before I have to (my parents have the week off this week and although we are getting on ok at the moment, I don’t want to prolong my contact with them.  Small doses!  I like my independence, as you know), I do enjoy having time to myself in a relaxing environment, and I can just turn my iPod on and type or read without any disruptions.  I do pay for the privilege, and I should be a little more careful with what I spend at the moment, but part of my philosophy is that as long as it’s not massively negligent of the bigger picture, we should treat others and ourselves the best we can, because tomorrow you could be dead.  It’s a bit blunt, but not wrong.  What have we got to lose?  I tell and show people how much they mean to me today (or at least I’m going to resolve to do that a bit more); I reward myself today (well, sorta quite often but hey!); I try and live in the moment, while being aware of my past and my future.  If I died tomorrow, I’m sure I would have some regrets, but I can’t think of anything major that I really see as a huge mistake in my life.  There are things that I would have done differently, but now that I’m in a pretty good space in my life I don’t really care because the mistakes I’ve made and avenues I’ve taken have led me to this point, and probably contributed to my character and the person that I am in some way.  Watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians at Toby’s last night, Kim Kardashian has money, looks, family and a decent career.  But listening to her speaking, there’s a tiny something missing… some sort of spark or soul.  I’m not saying that because she’s a celebrity heiress – I find Paris Hilton terrifically fun and I will always (well, almost always) stick up for her in a conversation – but with Kim there seemed to be little appreciation or conception of battling hard for the things she wants.  As much as I would love to have things fall easily into my lap, I’ve fought and struggled more than some people realise, and now that things are going my way I appreciate it every day.  I hope that it continues and I’m going to do my best to ensure that it does (although life is such that sometimes no matter how much you do, things go against you).  If I won the lottery tomorrow, if my heart felt like a glittering diamond and everything in my life were suddenly fulfilled, that would be nice, but I hope that through the course my life I can get to a state where I’m fulfilled by the things that I have, even if I’m not 100% satisfied and always striving for more (which I almost hope to be).  Appreciating what I have is something I try to do as much as I can, but I could still do it much more.

So I guess I found something to talk about.  It wasn’t anything momentous, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but I reread what I’ve just typed over the past 20 minutes and I stand by it.  Too often we are speechless, or afraid to speak for fear of the value judgments others place on what we say.  And sometimes what goes unsaid is the most valuable thing of all.  So to this end, I want to thank you all once again for reading, for following this little blog of mine, and I hope that you all stay wonderful and wish you all the best.  Until next time kids x

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creepin’.

January 21, 2010

So I’ve been seeing T for two and a half weeks now, and I’m slowly starting to get over my apparent fear of being with someone and letting someone in.  I had some fantastic advice from a multitude of friends, which was just to take things as slowly as I feel comfortable (and verbalise this if necessary, though I haven’t felt the need to yet), and not to feel guilty about not wanting to rush nor about keeping this blog private from him, because this is all very new and I don’t have to reveal every facet of myself right from the jump.  I think that it makes sense to keep some stuff back for me.  I’m still scared of what happens in the future, but as long as I just deal with right now, that’s fine for the moment.  Mike, astute as ever, said that “you seem to enjoy being with him a lot more than you enjoy the thought of being with him”.  I took that to heart, because it’s totally true, and realised that as long as I don’t overthink any of this dating / seeing each other / relationship etiquette, then I can enjoy myself and just relax.  I guess that I just get scared of calling someone my “boyfriend” and someone calling me the same, giving us that status and that link, with which comes a whole load of responsibility that I don’t really need to be dealing with just yet.

So we’ve been seeing a lot of each other, eating, drinking and getting jiggy.  It’s all good and I’m enjoying the cuddles, the conversations, the various excursions and my growing competence at Mario Kart Wii.  But between seeing T and socialising with my other friends (I had a wonderful afternoon of epic shopping and eating with Karina on Tuesday) I’m not spending much time at home with my parents.  I have absolutely no problem with this, but I feel like not only is it obvious that I don’t really want to spend time with them, but that I have to lie about who I’m with when it comes to T.  I mean, the past few days I’ve dropped his name to introduce a new person to my mother’s ears but inevitably I have to make up excuses about who I’m seeing or where I’m going.  When I got my tattoo done, I was “meeting Deena”.  When Mike & I were going to the tattoo studio to book my next one / enquire about his first one, we were “going to uni”.  When I stayed over at T’s house a couple of weeks ago, I got “carried away watching Gavin & Stacey at Hannah’s house”.  I’m 24 years of age and I feel I have to lie, not only about the fact that I might be having actual sex with an actual boy, but about simple, innocent things just to save questions from my parents on things about which they either would disapprove, or which they are suddenly intrigued by.

The logic of all this is based on my parents’ “all or nothing” approach. Usually, they couldn’t give a fuck about me, but occasionally they hitch upon an idea, a friendship or a thing I’ve started to do regularly, and interrogate me about it.  I think they think that they are showing interest, but I would rather they left me alone.  If they genuinely cared, they would ask me how I am more often, and make more small talk to find out how I’m feeling and what I’ve been doing, rather than suddenly remembering to ask every blue moon and then deciding to catch up on each facet of my life.  Most of the time they respect my privacy, but I have to lie to protect myself from the moods they have when they feel like being beyond nosey.  It’s self-preservation.  I remember mentioning Mike around the house when we first started being friends in September / October.  It wasn’t until just before Christmas that my mother dared to ask me a little bit about him, despite the fact that I saw him most days and sometimes he’d pick me up from home and we’d go and have a drink, smoke and a chat (one time this happened, my father stayed up until I got home at midnight, and then promptly went to bed as soon as I got in the door – why?!).  My parents both blatantly thought that I was having an affair with him, despite the fact that he is married with a child (something I’m sure I mentioned quite early on).  And yet, suddenly after Mike says hello to my mum when he drops me home one afternoon, she can’t stop asking about him! “How’s Mike’s road with all this snow and ice?” “What’s Mike’s surname?” “Have you heard from Mike?” “It’s really good of Mike to pick you up and drop you home.” I feel like, why are you suddenly interested?  You’ve gone from one extreme to another, it’s totally unnatural and invasive, and to be honest I preferred it when you just kept your mouth shut and ignored me, no matter what you thought of me.  I don’t like having my privacy invaded (one reason why I guess I’m finding it hard to adjust to this whole dating business) and yet I feel I have to answer these questions (followed by swift exit once I sense a barrage approaching) because I’m the son and she’s the mother; because I’m living under her roof (although I pay rent and am therefore entitled to take refuge in my room); because I haven’t done anything wrong and therefore have nothing to hide.  But I feel it’s unfair that when she is in a mood for whatever reason – even if it’s nothing to do with me – she will not speak even to be civil (which I think is childish), and yet I’m not allowed to have my privacy and I’m not afforded the same privilege of silence when I don’t want to talk.

So I’ve decided, sadly, that it’s easier just to lie and conceal certain things I’m doing and people I’m seeing to avoid the possibility of my parents taking interest.  I don’t care what they think about me being out all the time and going to my room as soon as I get in the door.  I don’t want to eat my father’s identikit hot cooking, I don’t want to watch TV programmes in which I have no interest (I am not able to watch anything unless both of my parents have gone to bed) and I don’t want to have to constantly listen out for conversations where I might be required to take part, only to have my point of view ignored or refuted.  I have my lovely friends, I have a decent job, I like uni, I enjoy seeing T, I’ve got plenty of positive things in my life.  I no longer need them to keep me down.  That’s why I’m creepin’.

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what christmas means to me.

December 20, 2009

I remember when I was little I would count down the days to Christmas Day so eagerly.  About the 22nd December, I would be so excited I couldn’t sleep.  And then on the day itself, I’d be up ridiculously early, eager to open my presents and be spoiled for the day before we would go to my nan’s for a big Christmas lunch, relax in front of the television watching one film or another while my mum and my nan chatted, my grandfather slept and my dad made a nuisance of himself in one way or another.  Eventually we would go home to wait for the inevitable boredom that was Boxing Day. But overall, it’d be a lovely day and hold the type of memories I’ll always cherish.

I guess it’s called growing up, but I don’t feel at all the same now.  Part of it is that those memories are irreplaceable – my grandfather is now dead, my grandmother is in Australia this year, and the year before last spent the day in hospital with my granddad, and my father is the one who cooks now (nowhere near as well, though it’s ok) and we eat here at home.  There’s no eagerness to open my presents, and since my parents don’t seem bothered by what I get them, they wait until 11am or something ridiculous like that just so that I can see their faces and suss out whether they really like their gifts.  In other words, the childhood traditions of Christmas are completely broken and gone; we do things differently now, and sometimes I wonder if I was the only one who ever enjoyed Christmas.

Nowadays, I dread the day itself.  There’s nothing to watch on TV, there’s nowhere to go that isn’t parent-sponsored (my friends are all busy with their families, obviously; there aren’t any buses and as I don’t yet have a car – something which I’m looking to change in the very near future – I am essentially home-bound), the sanity of my nan’s conversation and the scrumptiousness of her cooking is poorly imitated by my father.  And I feel bad for saying that, because it’s not that his cooking is bad; it’s not. It’s perfectly edible, but it’s not the same.  I have a lot of my own issues with food, eating food and generally feeling guilty for it. (Another down side to Christmas – every cigarette I have is under surveillance, so I am currently eating more and smoking less.  Not good for my figure, nor my state of mind!) But nevertheless I am always eager to taste my nan’s cooking – it is that good (I like to call it the Italian influence) that even though I exercise restraint in size of portions, I eat more than I otherwise would.  Her food has a certain feeling of safety to it that is comforting and yet vibrant and actively tangible; my father’s food just feels fake and bland in comparison.  That’s just Christmas Day – this year I plan to be talking to Mike (who is a real Scrooge!  I’m certainly not as bad as he is – he actively hates it) and complaining in unison, and quite possibly working on my essay.  Hell, there’s nothing else to do.

Nowadays, my favourite part of Christmas is buying everyone’s presents.  I couldn’t really care less what people get me, as I appreciate anyone thinking about me enough to get me a present, and I don’t tell people what to get me as everything I actively want is invariably too expensive, and I wouldn’t be happy with people (not even my parents) spending that much money on me.  I prefer to buy jewellery and expensive items with my own money, because then it’s my own decision and I’m not bound to being grateful to anyone.  The thing I enjoy about buying people’s presents is the rush and buzz in the shops, the feeling that Christmas is here (maybe it’s left over from my days working in retail – which I am still so glad are over) and most of all, choosing the right gift for somebody so that it will genuinely make them happy and let them know I have not only put thought into what I’ve chosen for them, but that I value them as a friend.  This year I have spent a bit more money than usual and than I intended, but since I have my bursary from university, I can afford it 😉 Hell, if I can afford my Gucci earrings and bracelet (which FINALLY came on Wednesday after a 3-month wait!), I can afford splashing out an extra few £ for my friends.  I take pleasure and pride in that, and I believe that as much as I deserve to be treated, so do they.  We all should allow ourselves to feel good, and allow our friends to shine a little sunshine our way every now and then.

But the meaning of Christmas has changed.  This year at university has been something I’ve enjoyed so much, I plan to go into the library over the holiday just to see Mike and do some work – it fills the time! I can barely stand to be at home anymore unless I have the house to myself, because I feel like I’m in a cage that isn’t allowed to co-exist comfortably in the same room as my parents.  I go to Starbucks most days when I have free time just to work on my essay – it has the double bonus of allowing me to escape the house & have some cigarettes, and I actually seem to get a fair amount of work done there.  (The unfortunate drawback is that I consume a beverage that contains calories – though I always go for skinny, so I guess it’s not too bad.) I like being around people, I like being close to my friends, and the fact that I have this essay to work on means that I have something to focus my energy on.  I don’t know if it’s that my attention span is getting shorter as I grow older, but I cannot stand to simply sit in front of the television and vacate my brain.  I need my laptop near me at the same time as I am watching anything just so that I can talk to friends and surf the internet – my nan jokes that I am constantly multitasking, but it is true!  I don’t know if it’s that I don’t know how to relax, but most of the time I don’t really feel the need to relax, because I’d rather be on the go.  And I guess that that’s at the heart of the problem – at Christmas, there’s just not enough to do that keeps me entertained!  I don’t dislike Christmas, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that the soft-focus memories of my childhood aren’t enough to hold my attention anymore, even if they were still able to be replicated (which they’re beyond not).  I don’t need gifts anymore, and I don’t need to watch a silly film on the TV while eating x, y and z.  That’s not me. Fundamentally, what I want from Christmas more than anything is to spend time with my friends, get out of the house and go somewhere and talk, be silly and have fun.

h1

xx.

September 10, 2009

Bear with me, hold on tight, make yourself comfortable and spark up or pour yourself a drink or grab a Haagen Daaz or whatever your preferred method of relaxation is. This might take a while.

Last Wednesday I bumped into my friend Ebony, whom I hadn’t seen in a quite a while, and whom various colleagues of mine while I worked at the Perfume Shop had tried to contact only to no avail.  I had realised that she must have changed her number or had some kind of phone dilemma, because she isn’t the kind of person just to suddenly blank you.  So when I bumped into her, she explained that her bag (containing her phone, among other things) had been stolen a few months ago, and she had a new phone with a new number, but had lost her old numbers.  We swapped digits, discussed the shop, what she’d been up to since finishing uni and what I’d been up to since leaving TPS and starting my new job at the hospital.  I mentioned that one of my colleagues at the shop had been upset that Ebony hadn’t been in touch, so she promised that she would go in.

Today she visited, and apparently they had some interesting things to say about me.  I found this out via a text Ebony sent me this afternoon, asking me whether “certain things she had heard” were true.  I asked what “things” they had said. Apparently, I had “left under a cloud”, and once I had left, I had returned a couple of times to visit, and had “admitted to taking from the shop”.

Apart from a big “LOL WTF?”, I replied that none of this was true.  The only thing I had “taken from the shop” was a free Armani bag, which was a year-old Gift With Purchase (i.e. a free gift you get when you buy a Giorgio Armani men’s fragrance, that has no monetary value and once the offer expires, is free to be given away with any purchase at the sales assistant’s discretion, in order to drive sales).  I had originally got this Armani bag as a GWP myself, buying a limited edition bottle of Emporio Armani He in the summer of 2008.  Eventually, the faux-leather front flap of the bag started to peel, and it looked quite shabby.  After being overworked and underpaid by the shop, and with there being a fair amount of tension between myself and the manager (due to changing rules to specifically prevent me from attending interviews, among other things), I felt that the least the shop owed me was a free bag to replace the one I had which was falling apart.  So I took it.  A free bag.  And back in July, I popped into the shop and my ‘friend’ H who still works there asked me where I got the bag from.  I didn’t see the point in lying (after all, these freebies were and are given away to staff all the time as incentives / rewards) so I said it was from downstairs – in retrospect, more fool me.  Despite the fact that the bag is not worth anything, despite the fact that these gifts get given to staff all the time, and despite the fact I had given various colleagues similar expired GWPs as rewards, this was “scandalous”.  I didn’t understand why it was a big deal, and I was shocked at the reaction, so I asked H not to say anything.  However, H was there with S, who is (to be blunt) all mouth and no brain.

So today, receiving the news that the shop thought I had stolen things (stock had been going missing both before and since I left, and the people who still work there are being investigated – I guess I was an easy person to blame, despite the fact I never stole ANYTHING – I did the majority of stockchecks so why would I put so much effort into counting endless boxes of perfume if I were the thief?) was a surprise.  Not because I didn’t think that this could happen – I know people better than that, and having a mini nervous breakdown at the start of this week was largely caused by losing faith in people’s perception of me.  But because I didn’t think that it would.  After how hard I worked at that shop, after managing it for 3 months by myself, after giving S’s daughter a Christmas present and being such a good friend to them all – they honestly think that I could be such a thief?  It’s disappointing.  And it’s hilarious that I took the bag in March. I told them in July.  It’s now September, and they’re still talking about it?  News must be slow and life must be dull for them.

I explained this to Ebony (who thought the whole thing was ridiculous and kinda dumb), along with a similar story where after Kulthum (another nice colleague of mine from the shop, who left last autumn for a new job) left the shop after not being able to work her full notice, my manager told me that Kulthum had “admitted to stealing money from the shop”.  In light of the false accusations that have been levelled at me, I doubt very much that this is true.  My manager told me not to tell anyone, and the difference is that unlike H and S who have seen fit to escalate the fact that I took a freebie into suspicion that I stole full bottles of fragrance and maybe even more, I never told anyone what she had told me about Kulthum.  Ebony made a very good point that if you steal money or stock from a shop and you are found out (whether you confess or otherwise), it’s gross misconduct and you are sacked that day; nobody lets you serve out half of your notice first.  I feel a little silly for even entertaining the rumour, although part of me never believed it and I kept up my friendship with Kulthum nevertheless – after all, she was never nasty to me and it was none of my business whether she took anything from the shop or not – the shop isn’t my baby, my family nor my be all and end all.  Rumours about other past employees have come and gone, but I never really broke contact with anyone I got on with because of these rumours – I am able to keep my mouth shut and I prefer to judge people on their own merits.  It’s just sad that not everybody does that.

I enjoy gossip like everyone else. But the sad thing is gossiping at someone’s expense, accusing them of things that are totally untrue. I am quite confident Kulthum never took the money – regardless, I never told anyone that she had been accused of it.  I never took anything from the shop other than that free bag. If they want to say that they think I did, because it’s easier to backstab me and accuse me now that I’m gone and can’t defend myself rather than face the fact that whoever the thief is, she’s still in the store. I’m no liar, I’m no gossiper, and I’m no thief.  I know that.  I have no intention of going in there and clearing things up – they should know me better from the year and a half I worked my butt off there and was a friend to every one of them.  They don’t.  Let them talk about me and perpetuate untruths if that’s what it takes to make their days more interesting.  It’s sad, and disappointing.

Hannah and my mother (who has been in a very similar situation herself) both said that this is one of the dangers of working with girls.  I don’t necessarily agree, as I get on with a lot of women, and everyone has the facility to be bitchy.  But a group of xx chromosomes can definitely be dangerous, and they can double cross (“x x” – see what I did there? Not just a pretty face!)… it’s whatever to me.  I have a new job, a better job (more money, more responsibility & more professionalism with less silly rules!), working with adults (men & women) rather than gossipy young kids who take 1 + 1 and get 1000.  If I see them in the street, I will rise above it and say hello with a smile on my face, as if nothing were wrong.  Because I have done nothing wrong.  But they’ll never be my friends again – the person they seem to think I am or want to portray me as is nothing like who I actually am.  They should have known better. And I should have known better than to trust that they wouldn’t double cross me once I was out the door.  Not a lesson learned, but a lesson reiterated… And we rise above!  Kisses to the haters… xx again. 😉