Them Clothes Are Staying On!

You know when you hear a song and when you see the singer for the first time they completely surprise you? That happened to me today with Jermaine Stewart.

We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off to have a good time, uh-huh, it seems was sung by a man, as evidenced by his Movember contribution in the music video.

I always thought it was a female who sung it, which leads me to a very interesting conclusion. That there are men out there who do not want to get you naked on the first date.

While a quick Google search shows me that I would not have been Jermaine’s type, mainly due to the lack of a certain body part, it is still refreshing to hear any kind of man insisting that there is no need for clothing removal in order to have fun.

As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, I’ve jumped into bed far too quickly too often, which usually kills any chance there may be of a relationship blossoming. Next time I meet someone, I’ll bring Jermaine’s song out as Exhibit A, and if they don’t like it, We Don’t Have to Care, to Move On.

We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off – Jermaine Stewart (1986)

Gone Goal

On Saturday night I finally had the pleasure of seeing Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl at the cinema. As much as I love going to the movies, visits to the big screen have been few and far between since I moved to the big city, but Gone Girl was one of those few films I was desperate to see before it disappeared into that black hole between the big screen and my DVD collection.

Having read the book last year, I knew the storyline. After seeing the film adaptation, the screenplay having been written by Flynn herself, I was not disappointed. Gone Girl is still one of the most amazingly clever novels I have read and if I could write something half as good as that I would be happy. What am I saying? If I could write something half as long as that I would be grateful.

Since I did my first piece of “creative” writing in 2011, I have struggled to write any fiction with the exception of the odd fairy tale. They say everyone has a book in them, and while I have ideas, I have failed to write more than about two pages before giving up. Every so often I give it a go but the truth is, I just don’t feel comfortable with writing fiction as I do with writing about real life in my blogs. They (whoever “they” are) say you should write about what you know, and at this point in my life, while my sense of direction is skewed and I may not be able to make sense of my thoughts and feelings, I do at least know I am having them. With the help of some popular culture, I can usually successfully transfer them onto the virtual page and into reader’s minds.

One thing I take from Gillian Flynn is that she published her first novel at the age of 35. Author Jodi Picoult published her first novel at the age of 37, and crime writer Raymond Chandler published his first story at the age of 45. Perhaps the best-known contemporary novelist of our time, J.K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter book at the age of 32. Proving that novel writing is not the monopoly of the teens or twenty-somethings, some of the best come from those with more life experience.

So for now, while writing a book seems like a gone goal for me, I take inspiration from writers like Gillian Flynn, and hope that one day I will be able to craft characters who are as deliciously complex as Amy Dunne and her husband, Nick.

You Bet Your Life

While I have spent the last month without the company of my male friend, the last week has seen me enjoy some very good times courtesy of other male friends. Now before you get all excited, both were on a strictly platonic basis. But both gave me the opportunity to enjoy life outside my usual haunts without any expectations.

On Thursday, I headed into Central London with one of my male colleagues to another colleague’s leaving do. As we debated the closest tube stop to our destination in the West End, he suggested that we stop by The Savoy hotel for a cheeky cocktail. One of London’s five-star hotels, it is not the type of place I frequent, but I was excited by the prospect of a spontaneous visit. So we headed in, and found a table in their American Bar (the American Studies student in me loved that). I have to admit I was in awe of my surroundings. We stayed for two cocktails each, and made two requests to the piano man, the first being Billy Joel’s Just the Way You Are, and the second being, erm, Billy Joel’s Piano Man. In my defence I had used up all my originality in just being in my new location. I considered asking for something by heavy metal rockers, Megadeath, but I managed to show at least some restraint for the high-society venue I found myself in.

My housemate often tells me I want to switch off from my problems, and I have to say that hour in The Savoy sure did allow me to disappear into another world for a while. But I loved every minute and would do it again given the chance.

Now onto my second jaunt. Yesterday I met another male friend in Central London. After we stopped by Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, we discussed what our plan for the rest of the evening would be. He suggested a casino. I countered with the cinema, hoping that we could see Gone Girl before it disappears from the big screen. I had my concerns about a casino, and my purse screamed no. But he said there was no entry fee, and that he would gamble with his money, so I figured why not.

I haven’t been into a casino since an overnight trip to Las Vegas in 2011 with some friends and not spent any real time in one since a four-day trip with my ex-husband in 2008, but the one in Leicester Square immediately took me back there. We found an electronic roulette table (although I don’t remember seeing those six years ago) and he placed his bet. I chipped in with the odd number, usually my birthday or a random pick. While none of my numbers came up, we left the casino £60 up, so I guess he must have done something right.

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“What I win, I keep. What you win, I keep. Got that?”

We left the casino to be faced with the huge billboard of Gone Girl on the front of the big Odeon in Leicester Square, the one where they screen all the big premiers. The expensive one. With a screening of Gone Girl starting in twenty minutes, our perfectly-timed winnings paid for our tickets, two portions of sweet and salty popcorn, a bag of chocolate sweets and two bottles of water.

After the movie, our winnings also paid for most of two portions of ribs at Garfunkel’s, which we devoured before getting our respective night buses home.

My unhappiness in my home life has led me to home-avoid a lot lately. But the silver lining in that has allowed me to discover a new social life. As well, I am finally feeling financially free to socialise regularly, a far cry from my days as a temp after I first moved to London, when I had to walk 40 minutes to work because I just didn’t have the tube fare. I have a lot of work to do on my home life, and feeling comfortable in my own home, which at the moment is causing me great problems, but like my other problems in life, I may be the root cause of all those issues.

Spontaneity was key in both of my fun trips out this week. Letting go of inhibitions and enjoying the moment. Not concerning myself with the cost, which in both cases turned out to be minimal anyway.

A lot is said about the work/life balance, but what I really need right now is a home/social life balance. That desire to go out and socialise without the need to feel like I am escaping from my own home. I’m not a betting person but if I was, I’d say I need to strike a balance between the two if I want to hit the jackpot.

It would be rude of me to go and leave you without any Billy Joel, so enjoy this song. So many I could choose, but I’m sticking with Just the Way You Are. For once, the lyrics aren’t directed at anybody other than myself.

Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel (1977)

Spring Forward, Fall Back

I just looked at the last post I wrote which was Friends Without Benefits, on the 15th October. Eleven days ago. I’m sure you’re all wondering what has been happening in those eleven days, so I’ll do my best to fill you in. As you’ll remember, I blocked my male friend on Facebook and What’s App, which was hard but a necessary enforced separation for me.

Spring forward.

It took him almost a week, but once he realised what I’d done and he read that last blog, he sent me a very heartfelt email. He understood the reasons why but still felt hurt that I hadn’t explained to him before cutting him out of my life completely. That is one of the downsides of this blog; while I may have posted a blog about what is happening in my life, how I feel, what has happened, sometimes I forget that not everyone reads my blogs, or just because I’ve written a blog it doesn’t mean that is the end of the conversation.

His email ended with the offer of friendship, should I really need it, and the hope that we would one day become friends again. He also said that he would respect my wish for distance, and after the email would not contact me again.

I suppose I should have expected him to react rather than just go along with it. Unfortunately for me, the arrival of his email coincided with the monthly work pub quiz. I read it during my first pint, but two pints and two large glasses of red wine later meant that I did what comes naturally to me when sober. I called him. Two drunken voicemails later, he called me back, a conversation which somehow lasted 55 minutes.

Mostly it was me crying and him talking, I don’t even really remember everything that was said. I do know however that one conversation opened up the floodgates again.

Fall back.

The few days after that all I wanted to do was call him, to talk to him again. Not to let him go. Not to go back to that horrible separation that left me feeling so alone. I did call once but it went to his voicemail. He tried to call back but by then I had started to regret the call, so I didn’t return it.

Every so often I get a pang of longing for our friendship, especially when I get stressed, which happens a lot lately. But I know that there is no other way it can be. The distance is helping. Although today is the one day of the year that you can turn back time (at least in the UK), there is no turning back time for this relationship. The foundations are crumbling because we tried to build them using different materials; he used friendship, I used friendship mixed with hope and that hope is what brought about the deterioration of those foundations. Perhaps in the future once all the hope is gone I can bring something that will solidify those foundations for good. Until then, I will do what I can to live my life without him.

Spring forward, fall back. Hurt is a necessary cog in the clockwork of life. The hurt may push you back, but in it you find a way to move forward again. Like the clocks that go back and forth twice a year, the action of one completes the other.

Friends Without Benefits

I have written before about how Billy Crystal was right about men and women not being able to be friends, and how he was right. Well, in case you wondered, he is still right.

Recently I parted ways with a male friend after I finally decided I couldn’t deal with just being friends. It started out with a sort of agreeing to not talk or meet up. We still stayed Facebook friends, and he would like statuses or pictures I shared, and every time his name popped up on my notifications my heart skipped a beat, knowing he was still there. It became though that I would open up Facebook to look for likes from him.

On Saturday, I was making lunch when I had this sudden urge to unfriend him on Facebook. I get these feelings sometimes, you could call it a kind of sixth sense, an intuition which is trying to tell me something, and in fact has happened with him on more than one occasion. It also happened with the last guy I was really into; I dreamt that he left his wife and was seeing someone else just a week before I approached him to find out where I stood with him. Of course, he had left his wife and was seeing somebody else, and wondered why this crazy girl was sat in his office asking whether anything was ever going to happen between them, when “nothing had happened”. He was right, of course, nothing had. But he had given me a tiny bit of hope some two years before, and believing that he was my soulmate, the one I was supposed to be with since I was 12, I had gripped that hope so hard for so long my knuckles were white. I couldn’t let go until I was far away, in a place that didn’t remind me of him. A place where I could move on. But I didn’t move on, not really. Because a few months before I had that conversation with him, the first face-to-face conversation we’d ever had, I had met the man I truly believed was “the one”. And that guy was my male friend.

We met on a dating website on Christmas Eve. A few days later, we had a wonderful first date over coffee, and I remember how he kissed me for the first time, and told me how he wasn’t disappointed at all in meeting me. It’s funny how I remember him saying that. Perhaps it’s because internet dating is full of disappointments, and I’ve had so many unsuccessful dates since that I cherish that one date where the guy was so positive about meeting me.

Anyway, less than a month later and it was over, and though we made an agreement to stay friends, we didn’t live nearby so our friendship was mainly limited to the occasional game of Words with Friends. It wasn’t until we both found ourselves living in London that we really spent more time together. Too much time really; a lack of other friends and direction in life for both of us chained us together. I poured my heart out to him about all my problems living in London, over living situations, work stresses, even disastrous dates. He was always there for me, offering advice and a shoulder to cry on. It became more than that for a while, although it was nothing more than friendship and sex. But very amazing sex, certainly the best I had ever had. But that came to a stop when I had to admit that I harboured feelings for him, feelings that he could not return. Once again we still remained friends, and I clinged to the hope that one day he would realise that I was the one he loved, the one that was stood right before him. He was only supposed to be in London for a year before moving back up North. As the end of the year approached, I started to feel panic that he would leave without me, and I would have to face up to the fact that he still didn’t have feelings for me. It started affecting me in a big way. But then his contract got extended by two months and he started talking about staying in London. And panic was once again replaced by hope. And this time the hope was big.

But hope was not enough. Because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to face the facts. That he didn’t feel that way about me. Whether he stayed or not, it was becoming time to face reality. Sadly, this realisation coincided with him meeting somebody else. And I realised that I had been so wrong, because he had never felt about me the way he did about her.

Back to Saturday. As I opened Facebook to unfriend him, a photo came up that he had shared. One of those stupid memes like the ones I myself have been sharing lately. And this one made me mad, so I made a snotty comment. He made one back, then I made another. Twelve words later, and I had unfriended him over handbags. And I found myself wondering why I hadn’t listened to my intuition and just unfriended him in the first place, before our already fragile relationship could deteriorate further.

Since then, I have been ok. Mostly. I still think of him though, and worse, I think of him with the girl he has met.

Last night he sent me a message on What’s App, asking how the flat hunting was going. I replied, he wished me luck, and I replied thanks. But today I have found myself checking What’s App, seeing when he was last online, hoping for another message from him. And I realise how hard this separation process is going to be. Because I have to be the one to walk away. Staying friends is not an option. Facebook friends is not an option. What’s App friends is not an option. So with a heavy heart I stop writing this blog to block him on What’s App.

Enforced distance is the only way I can get over this. They say absence makes the heart grow stronger, but I disagree. Absence makes you forget. It numbs the pain. And removes all traces of hope.

I listen to the heavy rain outside, and know the same rain pours in my heart. I have lost a friend because I can’t deal with the pain of feelings unrequited. The friend who always offered me an umbrella when it rained. Now it pours, and it is all I can do to stop myself getting soaked to the bone.

How Am I Supposed to Live Without You – Michael Bolton (1990)

All You Want to Do is Criticize

Don’t criticize my friends.

Don’t criticize my ideas.

Don’t criticize my lifestyle.

I’m fed up ‘cos all you wanna to do is criticise…

Ok, so you didn’t criticise my friends. But you did criticise Jack Bauer. And I like to count him as one of my oldest and wisest friends.

I very rarely watch television any more. Since shortly before I started university and my marriage crumbled, there has been a box-shaped hole in my life. Before that I had many American TV shows that I was a regular and avid viewer, 24 being one of them.

So when I finally get my hands on a copy of the latest, ninth season of 24, forgive me if I would like to put some time into watching it.

There are several reasons for that. One, that I want to follow the journey of one of my favourite American dramas. Two, that I’m a bit partial to Jack Bauer. And three, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy somebody else’s bad day for once.

I don’t need to be reminded that my problems won’t disappear after an hour of watching 24. I’m not completely stupid you know.

You insinuate I am wasting my time, when all I am doing is relaxing and taking time for myself during this busy period in my life.

I am the navigator of my life. I will make my own decisions. If life turns to shit, so be it. But I want the credit for making my life great.

I’m finally realising what I want in life, and what I don’t. And it feels pretty damn good.

Criticize – Alexander O’Neal (1987)

Where There’s Smoke There’s Ire…

Well my PMT has been raging this week. There’s been lots of tears and anger. Most of all I just feel scared about what the future holds for me.

Yesterday I did something I have never done at work. I smoked a cigarette. I have to admit I do smoke the occasional one when drunk on nights out, but to go and stand outside my office building while stone cold sober is a new one on me. While it calmed me down, I hated smelling like a chimney afterwards, and I could still smell the smoke on my fingers two hours later. So thankfully I won’t be taking up smoking any time soon.

I just feel like I am losing control again. Am I ever going to be able to settle in this place, in this life? A constant nomadic life, with heartache after heartache. Last week I stayed with my brother and his fiancee, and got to spend time with my nephew. This weekend I feel the emptiness of my life. I’m 36, I should have my own family to spend time with. Not be sitting in my room, alone, desperately searching for another flatshare before I become homeless again.

I’m sorry if this sounds pitiful, but this is how I feel today.

In between bagging up books for the charity shop, the sadness comes, and the PMT rages. Luckily I don’t have any cigarettes and I won’t buy any when I go out to take my donations. I do have chocolate though. And my blog. They will get me through.

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