The Fading Firefly

The fog had surpassed looking thick; it felt thick. I felt enveloped in it. I could barely make out the others in front of me, their signals twinkling faintly and sporadically. I dipped and looped, dancing gracefully – almost hauntingly – in the night sky. It was almost tragic that no one could see me. That wasn’t the point, though.

As it does, panic found it’s way to me, and grace quickly devolved into something more staccato. For just a moment, I was secretly glad that my light was hazy.

When the fog lifted, I waited with bated breath for the lights.

Only darkness waited patiently to greet me.

There were no more lights to follow; there was only space. I was once again enveloped.

Bright and solitary, my light shone out like beacon.

No one came to find me.

I started to fade.

Some words from a nanny

When I first met my kid, I was 21 and he was 5. Naturally, we hit it off instantly because we basically had the same mental age. Now, I am 23 and he is about to turn 7. We don’t see each other much since I stopped looking after him, but our relationship hasn’t changed one bit. I’m his favourite and everybody knows it.

His previous nanny had been with him since he was a baby; he was basically a part of their family. I was so nervous to fill his shoes. Kids had always taken to me pretty easily, but how was I supposed to compete with someone who had been such a huge part of his life? On my first day, I went to get him from summer camp and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Where’s Mark? Is Mark not picking me up anymore?‘ My heart broke for him.

I never had a nanny growing up. My mum went back to work part-time when I was born and then stopped altogether when my younger sister came along. Because she wanted to. She wanted to spend time with us and look after us when we were little. And I won’t lie, I would ideally do the same. But I know that this isn’t a luxury that all mothers can afford. I know that I may not be able to. And I know that some mothers just don’t want to. It’s a personal choice and it’s a parent’s prerogative to decide what’s best for their family and for their child.

If you have a good nanny, and you’re a good parent, you have nothing to worry about. Your kid will be surrounded by love and learn how to love. It’s an instinct to grow attached to people who care about us, and who we depend on. For children, this is even stronger. I was with my kid for three months before I left to do my Masters, and he loved me. He loved me because I cared for him. I cared for him in the deepest sense of the word. It wasn’t just a job. His dependence on me was beyond my making him dinner and helping him cross the road. I was a shadow mother, which is what a good nanny should be.

If your child doesn’t love their nanny, hire someone else. If your child loves their nanny more than they love you, that’s not the nanny’s fault; you’re doing something wrong. If they wake up in the night from a bad dream and ask for their nanny, you’re doing something wrong. Make time for your kid before your kid doesn’t have time for you.

I would say that the best time to do this is bedtime. Bedtime is my favourite time of the day. I am magic at it. Tucking my kid in and reading him a story, or making one up, and watching him drift off to sleep is the most satisfying thing. How much of a challenge he was during the day becomes irrelevant. He reverts back to the sweet, loving boy I so deeply cherish. I would be devastated if bedtime was taken away from me, but I think it’s important for a parent to do. I understand that this isn’t always possible. I get that sometimes it’s not possible to be back home for bedtime to tuck your kids in. But if you do make it in time, and your kid asks you to read them a story, don’t say no. I know you’re tired. I know you may still have work to do. I know you haven’t had dinner and you need to clean the kitchen before you catch up on emails and finish writing overdue thank you notes for you kid’s birthday party a month ago. But it’s 10 minutes, and it makes a world of difference to them. Believe me, I am more than happy to do it; I’m like the freaking sandman. But they would much rather it’s you.

I’m a great nanny. My kid loves me. He also loves the guy who came before me and he loves the girl who took my place. He’s a kid that has a lot of love to give, and I know that’s through having nannies. Growing up with different adults outside of his immediate family has shaped him into the weird and wonderful boy that he is today. He’s taken parts of all of us and we’ve all nurtured different things in him that we think are special. He is amazing, and I will forever be proud to have played a little part in that.

He’s a kid. He doesn’t listen and he cries and he throws water at me at bathtime. He tries my patience and he gives me attitude. But he is excited every time he sees me. He runs and jumps into my arms every time, without fail. I would never have thought that loving a stranger’s child would come so naturally. Like I said, I was only with him for three months, but we were family. On my last night, I was putting him to bed when he wrapped himself around me and said, ‘Why do you have to leave me? No one else has anyone leaving them‘. It broke my heart.

If you’d have told me three months earlier when I was picking him up from summer camp, that this little boy would love me as much as he loved the last guy, I wouldn’t have believed you. For a split second my cynical heart thought maybe this little boy is just fickle with his love, maybe he just loves whoever holds his backpack so he can ride his scooter really fast. My cynical heart trivialised this little boys feelings because I was heart broken and didn’t want to believe that he was, too. Imagine being that young and growing so attached to people, and then having to watch them leave.

I’ve only seen him a handful of times since I left, and every time I do, I am amazed at how much he has grown and at the boy he is turning into. When I left, he could barely sound out words; I saw him a couple of months later and he was stumbling through full sentences. My heart literally swelled and I had the biggest smile on my face listening to him read. He is smart and kind and funny and weird and loving and I am so proud of him.

I looked after him for a few days this week as his new nanny was ill, and it was just like old times. He is just as naughty, but just as loving. His new nanny, Emma, has been with him a lot longer than I was, so I imagined I had been replaced in his affections, and fairly so. However, when I put him to bed on the last night, I wasn’t sure when I would see him again, so I asked. When I told him that I wouldn’t be there the next day, he said, ‘I think you should come back tomorrow, and on Friday, instead of Emma. And then pick me up for the rest of my life‘. I melted. I kissed him on the forehead and made up a story about a boy who lived in a coconut. He was asleep before I finished, but I watched him for another five minutes. And then I left.

Sometimes it hurts to love another person’s child.

That time a boy smacked me

The year is 2011 and I am off my face at the shots bar – oh, look at that, another story that starts with me being drunk in da club at university. Anyway, there I am, bopping along to whatever Rihanna song was big that year, waiting to order a shot of tequila and a shot of Sours, when this boy, Sean, appears behind me.

CONTEXT TIME

I had been getting with Romanian Boy on and off since the beginning of first year. He was a nice boy with a complicated girlfriend issue and I’d kiss him every time they broke up. Don’t say anything; I already know. A year and a half of this later and a couple of weeks before aforementioned shots bar night, we were making out in da club when I told him, ‘No, I don’t want to go back to your grimey house and have sex in your hot tub‘. Fair enough, right? After trying to convince me I was making the wrong decision, he so tactfully said, ‘Fine; I’m seeing someone else anyway‘.

literally my expression

I yelled at him, turned around, and walked away. I thought I handled the situation fairly well. Nothing I said was unwarranted; he had most definitely been a massive bellend. I searched all three floors of the club for my friends so I could vent to them. They were not happy with Romanian Boy’s behaviour.

Steph and Sarah decided that they needed to have words with him. Despite my many objections, my overly protective friends hunted down the slimey boy and waded through his group of friends to give him a good ol’ bollocking whilst I stood on the sidelines feeling awkward as fuck. From what she says, Steph’s chat with the kid was relatively calm and non-confrontational. He even apologised to me. Somehow, though, his housemates, Sean and James, had managed to get themselves involved. Sean had been fairly pally with me, but he was sleazy and I was having none of it. After the third, ‘don’t touch me‘, things escalated all over the place. I can’t really tell you exactly what happened, or how, or why, because I’m not entirely sure what did happen, or how, or why. But, boy, did things escalate. Everyone was yelling at each other, there was pushing and shoving and copious amounts of name calling, and Romanian Boy standing there in the midst of it all, with the meekest ‘what the fuck have I done’ look painted across his face.

So, back to the shots bar. Sean is behind me and behaving like a child. He makes not so subtle jokes about Romanian Boy and pulls my hair like we’re seven years old. Then he pulls my skirt up. All  the way up over my bum and fanny. Control pants on show and everything. WHAT. THE. FUCK. I lose my shit. We’re not friends. It’s not banter; it’s harassment. I try to smack him in my rage but there’s so little space to turn around and lift my arms I end up clumsily hitting his nose instead. He sneezes about 6 times and we laugh, order our drinks and go our separate ways.

Two minutes later, I suddenly feel liquid streaming down my forehead and through my hair. Again, I lose my shit. I walk over to Sean, James and Romanian Boy and confront them on the matter. Sarah sees that shit is going down and tries to help me. James throws drinks at both of us. Things escalate. Sean and James shove me. James smacks me across the face. Sean grabs hold of both my arms and backs me up against the wall, telling me to calm down. I glare at Romanian Boy who is standing there like the most spineless little bitch I have ever seen. I am not strong compared to these boys. A random girl sees what is happening and tells them to leave me alone and asks if I am okay. She then goes to get a bouncer. James gets kicked out and barred for 12 months.

Sometimes boys hit girls. I’m not talking about domestic violence or spousal abuse (which goes both ways), but these random and unnecessary fights that tend to happen when you’re out. This story would look completely different if everyone involved was female. When I tell the story, all the emphasis is on the fact that a boy hit me. If it was a girl, it would be less of a story and more, ‘this psycho bitch slapped me for no reason; what a cunt’. If it was a girl who had hit a boy, it would probably be the same kind of ‘pyscho bitch’ sentiment and even less of a story. Why is that?

I don’t have a soapbox to stand on, just a question – why is it still so socially and culturally taboo for a boy to hit a girl? Maybe my understanding of equality is different, or maybe I didn’t pay enough attention during my Anthropology of Gender module, but, isn’t it a bit hypocritical? Feminism is about equality, right? We fight for equal rights when it comes to education, jobs, money and our sexuality; we argue that our biology and physiology isn’t a hindrance to us. So, why is it that we can smack a boy, but he’s not allowed to react to it physically?

Because this is the internet, I feel like I need to add a disclaimer – obviously, violence is never the answer and I am not in any way condoning it. I don’t think that boys should be allowed to hit girls, because, generally, they are stronger. Is that ‘sexist’ to say? In my experience, it’s just the truth. It’s likely I’ve just spouted a load of shit, and now all the militant fourth wave feminists are coming to tie my tubes, but I thought it was an interesting thought, at least. What do you think?

This is purposely provocative and controversial, but, are you still a feminist if you’re outraged that a boy has hit you, and your outrage is at the fact that he is a boy?

Ryan Gosling and Twerking! Literally, you won’t BELIEVE it!

clickbait: an eye-catching link on a website which encourages people to read on

If you scroll down your reader, or feed for any social media platform for that matter, you will no doubt be inundated with catchy, hyperbolic, and inflammatory headlines. They will probably catch your eye, and you will probably click on them. You know the ones I’m talking about –

That BuzzFeed list, The 50 Absolute Sexiest Things Ryan Gosling Did In 2013.

That Thought Catalog article, I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.

That YouTube video, Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire!

You get the idea, right? Those headlines that are just gagging for you to click on them? Yep, those ones. Isn’t that what headlines should be, though? Catchy things that grab your attention and make you want to read on? When we live in an environment where media outlets are saturated with content, and readers have essentially become magpies, aren’t shiny headlines more crucial than ever? Is it necessarily clickbaitification? Is it not just clever titling?

Sure, ’50 Ryan Gosling pictures’ would be an accurate title, but it’s definitely not as attention grabbing as the one that BuzzFeed went for. That may be a bad example as I am liable to click on anything that mentions Ryan Gosling, regardless of the rest of the headline, but you get what I’m saying. It may also be a bad example because it’s a BuzzFeed list. Now, don’t get me wrong, I fucking love BuzzFeed. I literally – and I mean literally – spent tens of hours on it during the process of writing my thesis; any list that had anything to do with Mindy Kaling was infinitely more interesting than trying to weave core theory into my largely fieldwork heavy anecdotal dissertation. BuzzFeed is a procrastination goldmine; it is busting with entertaining content that keeps your focus for two minutes before you find the next clickable headline. That’s pretty much the extent of it, though.

So, does where content is found play a role in determining whether or not we classify it as clickbait? If ‘I Look Down On Young Women…‘ was posted on The Guardian’s website as opposed to on Thought Catalog, would we take it more seriously? Would it be seen as a provocative way to generate discussion as opposed to a misguided way to drum up page views? Are we really judging blog posts by their curatorial umbrellas? When I go to a site like Thought Catalog or Elite Daily, I know exactly what to expect. I’m on those sites because I want topical, relatable and entertaining articles that pertain to my life as a ‘millennial’ (Jesus, I fucking hate that word). I’m not surfing The Debrief because I’m looking for bloody Pulitzer worthy writing; I just want a three minute distraction whilst the next episode of Pretty Little Liars loads.

This brings us to my next question – is it the quality of the content itself which dictates whether or not it will be seen as clickbait? Like I said, I don’t expect to be blown away by the quality of writing on these curation sites; as long as they’re coherent and don’t feature any truly appalling grammar, I’m not that fussed. The posts are predominantly there for entertainment value, not because they’re really going to affect your life in any sort of deep and meaningful way. Occasionally, you may find a gem of a piece that really makes you think, but, let’s face it, it’s pretty rare. You’re not going to find the next Khaled Hosseini writing meme fillied listicles on BuzzFeed.

Believe it or not, submissions on these sites have to be approved before they are published. You’d think producers and editors would set a higher standard of quality control, right? But, once someone’s clicked that catchy headline through to the article, they’ve got their page view – does the content even matter? Again, I don’t expect amazing content, but, thinking about it, isn’t that pretty shit? How disillusioned are we that we accept the content that is being consistently thrown at us? Why aren’t we demanding better? There are genuinely incredible writers out there who aren’t given the same platform or exposure as the sub-par list makers because our generation would rather look at ‘29 Cats That Have More Sex Appeal Than You‘ than read a beautiful piece of prose. Isn’t that sad?

Let’s be honest, whatever ‘clickbait’ is, we love it. We love those shitty articles and lists. We love that they are out there in abundance and we love that they relate to every possible aspect of our lives. It’s why we blog, isn’t it? To share our stories? To reach people and relate to them? I like to think my writing isn’t as barren as everything I’ve just slagged off, but maybe it is. Maybe someone needs to quality control me. Everyone deserves the right to express themselves, but are we so oversaturated with poor content that we’re starting to forget what good writing looks like?

Things to be left in 2013

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Mine was lovely; I spent it running after a two year old boy who has a penchant for smacking me on the bum, making up secret languages and playing hairdressers with a five year old princess, dancing to Beyonce with a 6 month old baby boy in my arms, and trying to stay sober enough not to tell anyone that the ‘friend’ my uncle had brought was actually his psycho fuck buddy who keyed his car three years ago.

my Christmas nails

my Christmas nails

I’m sure you are all obviously aware that a new year is almost upon us. Now, it’s no secret that we all like to associate the new year with new beginnings, new goals and expectations, and that these are rarely ever met. So, instead of the pressure of reaching for something new, I’ve decided that I will instead just leave things behind, because that has to be easier, right?

  1. W – it just has to be done. The time has come to stop relapsing, break the pattern, and move on. He was such a bellend.
  2. Cake – I fucking love cake. I already know this one’s not going to stick, but I’m going to try anyway. The 20 year old told me I would easily lose weight if I just cut down my calories. I don’t really remember the context of this conversation, so don’t quite know if he was being rude or offensive, or not so subtly hinting that I could lose a little. He still wanted to see me naked, though, so I’m not that bothered. Anyway, obviously his advice makes sense, and I’m too lazy for exercise, so we are left with no more cake. Note: this isn’t me setting out to get skinny, it’s just leaving behind cake. Another note: birthdays don’t count. 

    best birthday cake ever

  3. Vomming – induced by alcohol, that is. Obviously the horrific bug type can’t be avoided. Being a state on nights out, however, can. I’ve definitely gotten sloppier with my drinking in 2013. I think that after university, I thought I could drink the same way I used to, just far more sporadically. Wrong. You can’t. Tolerances do adjust. Beware. No more being sick and kicked out of clubs! 

    loving my 23rd birthday

  4. Unsafe sex – because, quite frankly, I’m bloody lucky I’m not knocked up or riddled with diseases. My heart flutters a little every time I feel a searing pain across my abdomen as my ovaries ready themselves to commit mutiny against the rest of my body, my eyes smile in relief every time I lie on the floor in the foetal position to keep myself from being sick; despite the fact that periods are ridiculous, I do look forward to them every month. I used to get yelled at regularly by friends for never being safe, and they were right to yell. It was dumb – being drunk isn’t an excuse! The many, many sober times were even dumber – don’t let anyone convince you that pulling out is an acceptable form of contraception. It isn’t. Though, it seems that even when I do try to be safe, it backfires on me. Life’s funny like that.
  5. Unemployment – it’s time. Although I still have no idea what I want to do, it is time. Suggestions for life choices are more than welcome. Environments that tend to be inhabited by hot, single men would be preferred.

I feel like leaving these things behind will make positive, constructive changes to my life. Obviously this means I shall partake in all five on January 1st.

Are you making New Year’s Resolutions? Is there anything you want to leave in 2013?

Breaking Patterns – no advice given

The other night, in typical single girl fashion, I was sprawled out across the sofa watching Sex And The City. The episode was centred on the idea of dating ‘patterns’, how we all have them, and how hard they are to break. Obviously this prompted a ‘thought provoking’ question from Carrie:

Are we all, in fact, just dating the same person over and over again?

I don’t think the writers dug too deep with this one as it’s fairly obvious. But hey, here I am writing about it, too. Essentially, everyone has a type. In my mind, my type is tall, dark and handsome – like Superman.

could anything make you more weak in the knees?!

In reality, however, my type is cunts; just the most awful people I could possibly find. I’m drawn to them like a hipster to a beanie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking typical cool, bad boy sort of guy here – there is nothing cool about the boys I get involved with. They’re just straight up bad people.

And I know it. I know it’s my pattern. I see it coming every single time. But I never break it. I don’t even try.

And because it’s my pattern, and everybody knows it, it has been analysed during girl chats a fair few times. This has come up more than once…

go see/read ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’ if you haven’t already!

Now, I don’t like to think of this as true in regards to myself. Mainly because it makes me look a little bit pathetic and like I don’t think I deserve to be treated nicely. Maybe I don’t. I don’t know. I’m not that in tune with my feelings.

I think it’s more likely that I’m just a glutton for punishment. I put myself in a position to be hurt over and over again by the same type of person, if not the same person themselves. And I make it so easy for them. I line myself up in front of the target board, move it a few feet closer, and become a fucking sitting duck. Just waiting for them to take a shot. My vital organs practically begging to accommodate their bullets.

If you’re a regular reader, you may know that the most recent major antagonist in my life story is W. We still snapchat. We still whatsapp. He’s still a cunt. I still let him be a cunt to me. Every interaction ends in me being upset or angry – predominantly angry, though. There have been a fair few of these incidents recently, though I don’t want to get into them as I like to look the least pathetic and lame I possibly can. Just know that none went well, and that my point is that I knew that they wouldn’t. Every time I reply or instigate a message or a snapchat, I know that it’ll end badly. End badly for me, that is. He couldn’t give a fuck. It leads to a lot of feeling like this…

Sometimes I think I’m breaking the pattern. I’ll go on a date with a nice boy who’s polite and doesn’t make it an aim to try to make me cry. And then I’ll never text him again and text one of the boys who’s rude to me instead.

If you have the answer, please don’t hesitate to enlighten me. In the mean time, though, I don’t see anything changing. I think I’m just waiting for this…

Aren’t we all, though?

Putting your best foot forward

How do you know what your best foot is?

I, like many other girls, always look a little bit different. In the day, I wear glasses, minimal make up, and my hair is a mess. Come night time, though – whether it’s for a date, drinks with the girls, or hitting da club – the glasses come off, the eyeshadow goes on, and the lips are painted red. My hair, however, tends to still be a little bit messy. I just rock that look.

It’s like going through a transformation every single time. But why do we do it? Who says that that’s what’s more attractive? I would never go on a date with my glasses on. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that in the past when I’ve met someone on the spur of the moment after a day at the library or whatever, I’ve put my glasses on my head and been partially blind instead of letting them see me in them. I would rather sacrifice my sight, endangering myself and others, than be seen in my glasses. What the fuck is that all about?

I started thinking about this yesterday when I got asked out in my daytime getup. I was showing a room for my grandmother, and when the guys left, I got a text saying:

Hi, my friend didn’t like the room. But I did like you!

I laughed it off. Then, 10 minutes later, he called me. He said that I seemed really nice and asked if I wanted to get a drink sometime. When I lied through my teeth and said that I was seeing someone, he posited that we could be friends and get to know each other. I said I’d let him know.

Now, this may sound bad – he was fairly cute, I would have said yes if he weren’t Albanian. Accent and everything. It just doesn’t do it for me. Was that harsh? Should I have given him a chance?

But my point is, he met me in my scruffy clothes, wearing my glasses, only concealer and mascara on my face, and my hair looking like something akin to a bird’s nest. And he was pretty keen on it. That night, I had a date. I straightened my hair, put contacts in, slapped on a full face of make up and even put on jewellery. The guy text me today saying we should hang out again. So, also keen.

Would he have been as keen if I’d turned up looking like I did in the day? Would the Albanian have been as keen on the night time look? Is it a context thing? Is it irrelevant because my personality is so awesome? Which is my best foot?

Maybe both my feet are great.