Tag Archives: cake

Talk Is From Poundland

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Hello, dear reader.  We’ve reached Thursday!  Hooray!  How are you doing?

We are all familiar with the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, but how much do we really believe the idea?  We get hung up on words all the time.  We re-read text messages and emails, we hold on to hurtful things that people say and let them get to us, and some of us even make a living out of using words (ahem).  Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone.  Some people are very good at letting words go.  But for a lot of people, even those who are good at ignoring the things that people say, we don’t really pay enough attention to actions.

The problem with words is that they’re so easy to use, and if you’ve been given them in a written format you can quite literally keep them with you forever.  Having said that, I got a bit upset a few months ago because I couldn’t find a load of emails that were exchanged between me and friend over ten years ago.  It was quite sweet, really: we used to email each other every day before school.  It was like having a pen pal, but with emoticons.

Now that I think about it, it really doesn’t matter about the emails.  I am still friends with the guy who I was sending them to, and I got to see him quite a lot while we were both in Edinburgh earlier this month.  It would be nice to see what we were writing to each other all those years ago, but the action of having kept in touch for a decade means so much more than knowing exactly what we’ve said to each other in the past.

Don’t get me wrong: I love words.  Obviously.  But I prefer phone calls to text messages and coffee dates to instant messaging, because in the months and years to come I will not remember anything that was said.  I will remember laughing and feeling connected to another person, but I won’t be able to tell you which words we used.

I couldn’t tell you what we talked about at my birthday party, but I remember my friends Katie and Mell making me an amazing Bag End birthday cake.  (That’s what’s in the photo at the top of this post.  Isn’t it amazing?)  I have no idea what our first words to each other were, but I know that my oldest friend and I had a fight when we were six when I threw my ballet shoes at her, and that we made up immediately afterwards.  My friend Jon and I have horrendous arguments sometimes (especially when Mr. Jack Daniels has been invited to the party), but we don’t care because we know that the other person will always drop everything if one of us has a crisis.

Words are good, but they’re cheap and easy.  Actions can be challenging, but they mean a lot and they have staying power.  If words are from Poundland, actions are from Argos.  (Seriously, have you tried shopping in Argos?  If that’s not a challenge then I don’t know what is.)

Have a gorgeous Thursday.

The Recovery Position is Not A Game

Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?  Sorry this is being posted so much later than usual.  Last night I was networking, then catching up on paperwork, and then my friends and I decided to play a very long game of “Who’s had the weirdest/worst/most unbelievable day?” and I didn’t get off the phone ’til stupid o’clock in the morning.  Ay, as they say, caramba.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post, you will already know that I have just completed a two day first aid training course, so I am now qualified (shiny certificate pending) to help people who are unwell.  Bizarrely, I had cause to use my first aid skills almost the second I got to Victoria station after training, which was very odd.  I did remember what I was supposed to do though, which was nice.

I also had this conversation with my friend David, whose girlfriend is one of my best buds from university (and is just a little bit strange, as you can see):

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And I am proud, but I also feel a bit sorry for David…being put into the recovery position when you don’t actually need to recover is quite bewildering.

I am not in the least surprised by my friend’s silly behaviour, because I’ve known her long enough to anticipate her responses to things.  This is obviously not one hundred percent foolproof, because people can always surprise you.  However, being able to work out what someone’s likely response to a given scenario (or blog post) will be means that you are very well-equipped to make people laugh, feel better about themselves, and generally enjoy their relationship with you.

It’s sometimes the case (and I’m definitely guilty of this) that you anticipate people’s reactions in a negative way, for example, assuming that you can’t tell a friend about a problem because they’re a story-topper, or assuming that your outspoken vegetarian friend will have no sympathy for your meat-induced bout of food poisoning.  Sometimes this may be true, but not always.  Sometimes the notoriously bad listener will pay attention, the wreckhead will suggest a quiet night in and the emotionally unavailable one will ask how you are.  With that in mind, let’s not put people into boxes.  They’d need air holes, for a start.

Have a Thursday of dreams, rainbows and, wherever possible, cake.

Time is of the (Vanilla) Essence

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Good morning, you lovely thing!  How’s your week going so far?

If you’ve read my blog post about deadlines you will already know that I think working towards deadlines can be very good for us, but that we should have faith in the idea that opportunities don’t just come around once.  This post was similarly positive in tone, and dealt with the idea that we can afford to wait for the opportune moment.  Having made these fairly optimistic assertions, I would now like to talk about the slightly more frustrating side of things: the best laid plans of mice, men and mortgage brokers can be utterly scuppered by bad timing.  Good timing is like a ticket to your dream gig: you know some people have managed to get hold of it, but your best endeavours haven’t got you anywhere.  Sadly, there is no eBay equivalent for those of us who can’t seem to time things correctly.

In many cases, timing is problematic because it isn’t something we can entirely control.  Your best friend’s birthday party inevitably falls the night before your big job interview, and the season finale of your favourite television show is always showing when you’ve got a hefty essay due in.  In my house, we tend realise that we’ve run out of vanilla essence three minutes after Asda closes on the evening before some kind of cake-centred event.  (For the record, almost all of mine and Ash’s social interactions revolve around cake, and we are not ashamed.)

Currently, timing is just being a bit inconsiderate: I somehow managed to get ill just before today’s recording of Pointless.  This is an absolute pain in the sinuses, but I have two very good reasons not to let this bother me:

1) I have an incredibly compassionate flat mate who is very good at taking care of sickies, and who is unfailingly sympathetic when all I can muster by way of conversation is a feeble “uuuuuurgh my face hurts”.  Everyone should have an Ash in their lives, especially one who always has Olbas oil and vapour rub.

2) Pretty much everyone I know is ill at the moment, and we all know that lurgy loves company.

That’s the main point, isn’t it?  The worst feeling in the world is not necessarily going through something difficult, but feeling that you’re going through it alone.  Bad things don’t necessarily come in threes, but they definitely come in large numbers.  Sometimes it seems that we have stumbled across a school trip of bad news, and the little gits have taken over our mental landscapes with their lunch boxes of doom.  It isn’t necessarily encouraging per se that all of our friends get ill at the same time, that lots of couples break up within a few weeks of each other and that everyone seems to be in a bad mood on the same day, but our problems are so much easier to deal with when we realise that our loved ones understand them.  In many cases, their experiences of your situation will qualify them to offer you good advice, lots of empathy and, where necessary, decongestants.

Have a truly marvellous Thursday.  You deserve it.

We Could Totally Go on Countdown

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Hello, dear reader!  Are you having a nice Sunday?

My birthday party was yesterday, and it was marvellous.  Lots of friends, Cards Against Humanity and an unholy amount of cake at my house followed by taking over a pub garden for the evening make for a pretty perfect Saturday.  On the trip from my house to the pub we were definitely “those people” on the tube who were being a bit too noisy, but we were also handing out cake to strangers, so I like to think that we balanced ourselves out in terms of transport karma.

One of my favourite things about my wider social circle is that pretty much all of my friends get along with each other, regardless of external factors.  My siblings get on with my uni friends, and my friends from school get on with the person who stole my tricycle at nursery school (and has somehow become one of my closest friends in just twenty-two years).  Last night I sat in a pub garden and looked at my friends chatting, drinking, and climbing on the garden furniture, and I realised how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who like each other (and me, hopefully).

Something else occurred to me about my friends last night: none of us are where we thought we would be at this age.  Geographically we are all pretty much where we expected to find ourselves (i.e. in London), but in terms of career stuff and personal lives I think our mid-twenties have caught us entirely by surprise.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s interesting to look at our trajectories since university (for example) and see how far we’ve strayed from our original ambitions.  We are, like Moss caught up in the dark underworld of Countdown, not exactly who or where we thought we would be.

I think that that’s amazing, particularly because so many of my nearest and dearest are drama types who could feasibly have been forced to abandon their dreams because of discouragement, money and other nasty things.  Thankfully none of us have, and if anything we are more enthusiastic about our dreams now that we’ve lived in the real world for a bit.  We know more about how we’re going to get where we want to be.

Now, how does one go about being on Countdown?…

I hope you have the kind of Sunday dinner that would make Gordon Ramsey weep with joy.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Byrne

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Hello, dear reader!  How are you?

Today I turned 25, which is lovely because I have an excuse to eat lots of cake and do pretty much whatever I like (within the limits of physics, morality and the law, obviously).  Having said that, I am not actually very good at birthdays.  This is for three reasons:

1) The paranoia: will my friends turn up to my party?  Do they still like me?  Have they decided in the last twelve hours that none of them can be bothered to trek to North London for cake and scones?!  …Actually, what am I saying?  My friends would walk through fire to get to cake.

2) The perfection crisis: I think we all do this.  On our birthdays we expect perfect weather, green traffic lights, punctual public transport and shiny, healthy-looking hair.  It’s the one day of the year when everything is supposed to go our way.  People who are angry with us should automatically forgive us, we shouldn’t have to go to work and frankly the washing up can be left ’til tomorrow.  (That’s such a lie.  I’m definitely going to do the washing up once I’ve finished this.)

3) I have been known, upon  hearing the greeting “Happy Birthday!” to accidentally utter “thanks, you too” in response.

Luckily, I share my birthday with some awesome people who are better at this stuff than I am (and if they wished me a happy birthday, that embarrassing response would actually make sense):

  • Ed Byrne: one of my favourite Irish comedians, who also happens to be BFFs with Dara O’Briain and has some brilliant stories about him, such as this one.  I’ve met Ed Byrne (as you can see from the picture), and he’s lovely.  I hope he’s having a brilliant day.  (Milton Jones is lovely as well, so I hope his birthday is nice, whenever it is.)
  • Alex Pettyfer: you know him, the guy with the face who was in that film.  Yeah, him.  Apparently people tell my friend Ben that he looks a lot like Alex Pettyfer, but I think Ben has a less grumpy/confused-looking face, which is good.  (In fact, you can judge for yourself – he’s the blond chap in the picture.)  Happy birthday Alex; do try to crack a smile.
  • Mandy Moore: I always think that I should hate her, but I don’t.  She was very funny in Scrubs, she was excellent in Tangled and in general she seems alright at what she does.  So why do I want to hate her?  I don’t know.  Sorry, Mandy.  Have a nice birthday.
  • Theodosius II: born 401 AD, he became Emperor of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire at the age of seven.  That is one heck of a birthday present.
  • Vincent Jaskowski: not a famous man (although he should be, purely based on his generosity and ability to do strange voices), but one of my closest friends and the person who deserves to have the best birthday of us all.

Have a stupendously lovely day (even if it isn’t your birthday), and I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, cake will find you somehow.

 

McFly Were Incorrect

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Good morning dear reader, and welcome to midweek!

Today I’d like to talk about something that I think a lot of us struggle with, and that McFly were wrong about: it’s not all about you.  I don’t mean that in a narcissism-busting sort of way, or want to imply that you are self-centred.  You’re obviously a tremendous and non-selfish person.  I actually mean in it in a really positive way.

When we were in Year 9 or 10, a girl in my form was keeping an online diary, or “blog”, if you will.  (Blast from the past, right?  I know.  Whatever happened to those?)  One thing you should understand at this point is that in those days the internet wasn’t broadcasting for us in the way that it is now.  Teenage girls saw the internet as a virtual locker, and only certain friends could open it with a special key, i.e. if we told them which obscure website our stuff was on.  This applied to various things, including fan fiction writing and blogging. Someone unexpectedly finding your blog in 2004 was the virtual equivalent of somebody breaking into your locker.

Anyway, some other girls in my form (who were nasty to everyone all the time for funsies – not quite bullying, but on the cusp) found this diary, printed a load of pages of it out and brought them into school.  They went and found anyone who was mentioned in the blog (including me), and charmingly read out the passages of text pertaining to them.  It’s not always easy to look back at your fourteen year-old self and find things to be proud of, but this is one of those moments for me:

Me: “I don’t care.”
Sort-of Bully: “But she’s said mean stuff about you!”
Me: “You say mean stuff about me all the time.”
Sort-of Bully: “She’s been horrible about everyone!”
Me: “YOU’RE horrible about everyone!  Is that why you’re showing it to us?  Because it saves you the effort of thinking up new insults?”

BOOM.  Well chuffed.  High five, past me!  Etc.  Anyway, the reason that I brought that story up is because I knew at fourteen that people will say unkind things because they’re upset or hurt; it’s not necessarily about you.  Teenagers can be very unhappy and/or confused, so it’s not surprising that a lot of them lash out.  For instance, when I was a teenager I said some dreadful things to my mum (who, as discussed in previous blog posts, is very awesome and did not deserve that), but unfortunately it’s not exclusive to adolescents.

The people who love you the most are supposed to cherish you and build up your confidence.  They are supposed to be proud of you and encourage you.  They are also supposed to take the mickey out of you and embarrass you occasionally.  They are not supposed to take bad stuff in their lives out on you, blame you for things that you can’t possibly help or make you feel guilty because their life is not what they want it to be.  Loving somebody is difficult, because you’re essentially giving another person your favourite type of cake and hoping that they enjoy eating it rather than smashing it in your face.  Ultimately the choice is up to them.

Sometimes your boss will be unkind to you, or a stranger will swear at you for crossing the road when you shouldn’t, or you’ll discover that a friend has been bad-mouthing you behind your back.  You have to ignore it.  If someone gives you a fair criticism, use it to learn from.  If someone says something about you that you think is based on truth and you could improve yourself based on it, absolutely go for your life (for example, maybe wait for the green man before crossing next time).  But nine times out of ten, people who say nasty things to you are just not worth listening to.  It’s not about you; they are hurting, they are lashing out, and they are trying to make you as unhappy as they are.  Do not let them succeed.  I have said this to you before, and I will repeat it many times: you are a wonderful human being.  You do not have time to listen to rubbish like that.

Bearing that in mind, I hope that you have a lovely Wednesday filled with small victories and lots of moments of random kindness.  I’m off to Surrey to help my best friend clear out her garage, because I definitely did not choose the thug life.