thetillyvanilly

Awkward things.

New Resolutions

time

I think anyone over the age of twenty would have to completely disagree with Willow Smith. Time does exist. We know it exists because it’s been screwing us around for the past however many years, making us believe that it’s going to be there when we’ve finished the Netflix marathon, or after the ‘quick’ Tumblr browse that lasts for all of eternity and then some, or after the super important crafting experiment that basically consists of gluing fluffy stuff to shiny stuff and covering the whole thing in ALL THE GLITTER!!! But time, being the fickle bitch that it is, has gone off with its cooler, thinner friends by that point, to do all the things you said you’d do once you could be bothered. Lesson one billion and fifty four: You will never be bothered. Excited? Yes. Completely kitted out and poor? Totally. But bothered? Next week, maybe.

And that’s the beauty of New Year’s resolutions. They are not happening right now when you want to be doing something much more fun involving many more calories. But they creep up on you. Time roars forward, because it totally exists, and as well as being older, greyer, fatter, wrinklier and a whole lot grumpier, you are also being shamed by your own ego. Remember when you said you were going to do yoga every day? Remember when you were going to learn to play the drums and start a punk band? How’s that novel you’ve been working on, huh? It was all well and good when it was in the future, because it was a beautiful, fictional dream. But once it’s here and it’s real and it’s not getting done, that’s when life starts to suck.

I’m not saying don’t make resolutions. No way am I saying that. Self-improvement is my guilty pleasure. I absorb self-help books and affirmations with all the smug joy of Gwyneth Paltrow, but without the awesome body and bazillions in the bank. I just think that you have to ease into bettering yourself. The thing is, we’ve all got this image of who we could be in our heads. Some are achievable and some aren’t. To figure out which camp you fall into, I’ve created a quiz. Yay! Quiz!!! Ok, so here we go…

Q1. When you imagine future you, does he/she:

  1. Look like you, but thinner/happier/healthier/chiller/richer/etc.?
  2. Look like Adriana Lima/Vin Diesel/Taylor Swift/Ryan Gosling?

Q2. Think about your goals for a second. Are they:

  1. So achievable you’re thinking of asking your gran if she wants to get bigger guns too?
  2. So terrifying that they would make The Rock burst into tears?

Q3. Have you thought about the fact that you might fail?

  1. Yeah, but it’s cool. You’re not going to beat yourself up. You’ll just get back on the horse.
  2. Fail? Me? Pfft. You’re cray cray, Holmes.

Q4. Why are you even doing this anyway, when you could be drinking ice-cream in bed for 365 days straight?

  1. Because I want to be healthier/calmer/more successful/happier/more well-rounded.
  2. Because I think it’ll help me score.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that if you’re hanging out on the b side of the fence, you’re doing it wrong. For resolutions to work out, they need to be realistic, achievable and for the right reasons. You also need to have a back-up plan, because life happens at the most inconvenient times, but if you’re ready for it, you’ll be fine. People are amazing and they do incredible stuff all the time, but in order to be amazing, you need to bullet-proof yourself, or you’ll go down with the first hit.

There’s a lot of stuff that I intended to do this year that didn’t get done, because all I had was the intention without the solid plan in place. I was totally going to do a zip line. This was definitely happening. Absolutely. But it was too cold, then life was too busy, then the place I was planning on was closed. It’s impressive how awesome we are at making excuses. The truth is, I was scared. Really scared. The idea of doing a zip line? Yes. Hell to the yes. I am so into that. Once I’ve done a zip line, I can do anything. I will collect my Wonder Woman certificate and cape and get on with my life. That’s the dream anyway. In real life I have a fear of heights so crippling that I climb two steps of a ladder and Freak. OUT. So it didn’t happen. Am I sticking it on next year’s list? Duh. Will it happen? Hopefully. I’ve taken baby steps to get over my fears, so I will cross things. But if it doesn’t, I won’t beat myself up.

This year I got a lot done, and that is because I didn’t make resolutions. I made goals. Clear, concrete, black and white goals. Here is my list for you to see how I did:

2014 goals

Because I’m me, my eyes are drawn to the big blank spaces that should be filled by ticks. But that’s bogus, because come on; I’ve done well. I’ve done a lot. A year is a long, short time. While you’re in it, it’s like wading through treacle. We wish away the minutes and the hours to get to other days. We pine for holidays and birthdays and whatevers. But the year seems to go by so much faster than the days do. Before you know it, you’re another year older and you’ve thrown it all away with wishing. And that’s how you know you’re old, because you’ve figured out that it can’t be controlled, and you start to realise that you want to hold onto every minute, before the minutes add up and it’s over. So don’t make resolutions, make goals. Try your best to achieve them, and if you fall down, get up, because the time goes whether you waste it or use it, and you can do more with less than you think.

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A Serious of Unfortunate Food Choices

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Like a lot of ladies, I am carrying a few extra pounds. And when I say a few extra pounds, I mean call me Richard Branson and get my private plane, because we’re off to Necker Island. And like a lot of ladies, I get kinda bummed when I realise that lbs aren’t cash money, and the closest to a private plane I can get right now is stealing a Morrisons trolley, climbing into it and squeakily wheeling it off a cliff.

I am Rubenesque, voluptuous, bootylicious and all the words that mean fat that aren’t fat, because screw you, that’s why. And mostly I’m ok with it. That is until that horrifying moment when I actually bother to glance in a mirror. Cue shopping trolley fantasies. That’s when the diets start. Of course we all know diet is code for only eating a quarter of an apple a month until I fit into my goal outfit, and then eat ALL THE FOOD before someone sees. Probably not a great idea, but hey, I’m keeping the economy up. Where would we be if I wasn’t spending obscene amounts of money on maternity trousers and cake? You’re welcome.

But I have this friend. This MALE friend. Hey, no misandry here, just pointing out a scientific, anatomical fact of life. Anyway, this MALE friend, who is a MAN, is a GUY who seems to eat whatever the hell he feels like and has the gall to hang out in the healthy BMI zone like a complete bastard. Long story super short: I hate him. I have a complicated and not entirely legal plan to steal his thyroid, because that’s obviously his skinny little helper, right? He eats all this crap and his thyroid buzzes straight through it, letting him stay in magical happy land with all the Victoria’s Secret angels. On a yacht. Probably.

But is it that or am I completely kidding myself?

Well I’m glad you asked, my wonderful reader, because, for you, I decided to take on the terrifying task of eating EXACTLY what Skinny McBaggypants ate for a whole week. All in the name of truth. And science. And other good things that are likely to win me a Nobel Prize.

Day One

Otherwise known as the day I almost died from overdosing on food. I didn’t even know that this was possible, or to put it another way, I thought I was pretty much immune to food. I mean, I am good at eating it. I sit at the top of the league table. But day one was a challenge. It started off with stomach grumbling agony. I was majorly hangry by the time he decided that chips were a good idea. Damn right they’re a good idea, I thought, anything with the slightest inkling of being edible is a good idea. EAT ALL THE THINGS! And then he ate all the things, meaning that I had to eat all the things. Cue lying in bed with a kicking food belly, feeling very sorry for myself and regretting this whole stupid idea.

Day Two

Usually I’m not that into murder, but today that changed. How is it possible to go half the day on nothing but a sugar-filled coffee? How?! I’ll admit I cheated a teensy bit. Well, I didn’t cheat, I bent the rules slightly. Basically, I moved the food. I ate the same things as him, but at saner hours. So I had the sandwiches at lunchtime, rather than right before dinner, Costa between sandwiches and dinner, and dinner at, shock, horror, faint, die, DINNER TIME. I know, I know, I’m a maverick, but I’m also a hero, since I pretty much saved a lot of lives.

Day Three

Who knew that eating all the food in the whole world could be a terrible, horrible thing? Today I was exposed to the joys of carb-ing up. And protein-ing up. And fat-ing up. And caffeine-ing up. If it was edible, it was eaten. You know those days when the diet starts tomorrow? Cool, good. And you know when you go to a party and it’s a special occasion, so you eat seven packets of crisps, all the houmous and pretty much everything in sight? Yeah, this was those two occasions smooshed together, sprinkled with sauce of ‘Screw it, it’s Christmas.’ But it was a normal day! The food just kept coming, like it was a contest, and I’m sure I lost.

Day Four

I’m getting used to feeling like I’m going to die soon. Like, I think my arteries hate me. And my stomach. My brain is sick of it all and has gone on vacation without leaving a note. I am daydreaming about fruit and salad and delicious, delicious juice. I am plotting my shift to the dark side. I want to do a water fast for a year. I might go breatharian. Anything just to get all this sugar and salt and crap out of me. I feel like I’m built out of stodge, squished lumps of bread pasted together with a slop of yellow fat. I can no longer stand the sight of crackers. And I hate, hate, HATE whisky!

Day Five

Today was another horrible day. I am going to list my symptoms to adequately convey how much of a MAHOOSIVE mistake this was. Ahem. I am currently suffering from: Headache, stomach ache, backache, aching everything actually, tiredness, spots, major mood swings, the need to constantly sit down and glare at anyone who comes near me, hardcore negativity, and scarily vivid fruit fantasies. I would literally kill for a pineapple. I mean, I would usually only murder for passion fruit and truffles, but I would take a pineapple in return for a body. Or a mango. Your choice. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND VITAMIN PACKED, PLEASE FEED ME FRUIT!

Day Six

Today I cracked. After um-ing and ah-ing and ohmygod-ing, I decided to give up. I have had a constant headache for the past few days, felt like my feet were in imminent danger of falling off, and I almost fainted. I’d like to think of it as quitting in the way that you might quit alcohol or smoking or meth. I am saying no to everything processed and white and cardboard.

Ok, so at the end of five and a half days, I have gained half a stone, a skin problem and anger management issues. I suppose I learned what I set out to prove, and that’s that certain people have superhuman thyroids that are in cahoots with the devil. But I also learned something WAY more important than that, which is that I am not jealous. I don’t want to survive on chips and bread and pies. Not even if I had the magical ability to stay super skinny with it. Because after less than a week I can tell you that the food I’ve eaten is crap. If in such a short space of time, a diet can screw over your whole body and turn you into a walking ball of rage, it’s not exactly selling itself. So I’m going to ditch the frankenfood and revert back to my old ways. If you need me, I’ll be face first in a watermelon.

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5 Things I Learned By Getting Into Mensa

dating

Recently I took two IQ tests, hoping that Mensa might, you know, ask me to hang out or whatever. And, awesomely, they did! Cue party hats and kissing glasses and photo opportunities. Or not.

I was ready to write this article whether I made it, or whether the letter that landed on the mat was a big fat “no thanks,” because I knew that I was going to learn something either way. This is one of those big deals in my life that means a lot, but not for the reasons I thought it would. It doesn’t matter because I got in. It wouldn’t matter because I didn’t. It matters because I tried, and you learn a lot when you reach for something you want.

I will admit it. I took the test because a lot of people think I’m stupid, and I wanted to be like “Um, actually…” I can be blonder than Paris Hilton sometimes. I panic about filling in forms, was convinced until recently that anvils were a comedic prop created by Looney Tunes, and walk into inanimate objects on an almost hourly basis. I am also what my friends kindly refer to as ‘adorable’. I insist that they name their cars, I swear that I have seen a unicorn, and I cannot resist the allure of anything in my path that sparkles.

But I am not stupid.

I do algebraic equations for fun, I can recite the 27 moons of Uranus in order of orbital period, and I read more than my optician is happy with. I am a healthy mix of fluff and dust. I am a grumpy old man in a tutu, poring over yellowed pages on special relativity, whilst knocking back a drink that’s pink and comes, pleasingly, with a cocktail umbrella and a curly straw.

On the outside, yeah, I seem to be a bit on the slow side of the street, but a poor grasp of blacksmith tools does not an idiot make. So I took this as an opportunity to prove to people that I am not as thick as I look, and also to prove it to myself. When you are treated a certain way, if you’re not careful, you can start to believe that you are what they think you are. But I didn’t just get a shiny certificate and a metaphorical pat on the back, I got a lot more than that.

Here is what I learned…

  1. Things aren’t as horrifically terribly horrendous as they seem.

On test day I was constantly reminding myself about my question-reading weakness, and the fact that I should take it slowly, not rush and read every question thoroughly, rather than doing what I am wont to do, and giving the opposite answer because I’m not paying attention. So the first test started and I plodded through, conscious of every possible slip avoided. It was going well until BZZZ. Time up. What? WHAT?! Noooo. Head meet hands. I missed so many questions on that test. But it was ok. It didn’t matter. I screwed up super badly and left half the sheet blank, but test two saved my question-reading backside. Side lesson: Three minutes is no time at all if you’re not paying attention.

  1. I care.

A LOT. The day before the test I was terrified, during the test I was a wreck, after the test I was an emotional car crash. Suddenly getting into Mensa was the only thing I wanted in the world, and if I didn’t get in, I was an intellectually stunted moron. In fact, why was I even bothering to try? Everyone knew I was stupid, it was common knowledge. The fact that I was wasting everyone’s time here wasn’t only laughable, it was offensive. This test would serve as nothing more than a baseball bat to crack me down the few pegs that I’d mistakenly ascended. When the congratulations letter arrived, I screamed and phoned my best friends before even bothering to take off my shoes.

  1. It doesn’t actually matter.

At first it is the best feeling in the world. It’s official. You are an intelligent person. The other intelligent people want to play with you. You can visit libraries and discuss Shakespeare and do Rubik’s cubes together. All the yay for you! But it doesn’t last long. I am still me, ditzy as a poodle with a mouth full of candy floss. Except now I have a certificate. I guess it’s the equivalent of having a lifetime of low self-esteem issues and someone telling you how pretty you are. It’s nice to hear, a shock even, so much of a shock, in fact, that you decide that they are a liar, probably a scam artist. There’s a pyramid scheme trundling into your future, pulled on a cart by a man with a pocketful of magic beans. There is probably some screw up with the test. You’re not going to make anyone aware, but you know, oh you know.

  1. Nobody is impressed.

My mum’s response was to screw up her face and ask me where I came from. No parental pride from that side of the fence. My friends were more curious. The thing about having the appearance of being a few paintbrushes short of a picnic, is that once you get into the genius club, everyone else decides they can too. Rather than Mensa being a prestigious organisation for brainiacs, it becomes accessible. Which is fine and dandy and all that jazz. But it’s also a teensy bit, I don’t know, annoying. It feels like “Pfft! They let you in? That means I could do the test with my elbows, wearing my knickers on my head whilst Benedict Cumberbatch whispers breathily into my ears!” Instead of people’s opinion of my intelligence going up, I’ve managed to bring people’s opinion of Mensa’s standards DOWN. I am probably the only person in the world that could manage to do it, so slow clap for me.

  1. I am brave.

Intelligence is all well and good, but the best thing that I realised is that I am brave. I’ve been pushing myself this year to jump off all the metaphorical cliffs, and have mostly only managed to walk to the edge, shudder and scramble backwards to safety, whilst creating new and unusual swear words. But I took the test, even though it was terrifying, even though there was a high likelihood that I would get a letter saying “Hahahahahahahaha… No.” Bravery is being scared and pushing through the fear. Bravery is telling your coward of a brain to STFU. Bravery is risking your shaky opinion of yourself on the chance that someone somewhere might just agree. I took a chance and whatever the outcome, it would have paid off because I didn’t leave the chance on the shelf in the first place.

So yeah. I am smart and I can be dumb. I am scared and I am brave. I am a human being with a bucket load of contradictions wrestling inside of me like a bunch of greased up deaf guys. And that’s ok, because, I’ve realised, most people are.

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