Thursday, 14 July 2016

Birth Marked or Scarred?

So this might not be a topic to which many of you will have given much thought- I mean, unless you are directly affected by it, why would you? But I would appreciate if you would read on because it might help some people out there... maybe even you.

Since I joyfully shot out my mum's birthing water slide, I have had these continent shaped, red marks stretching across my right leg/lower back. And I would like to finally introduce them to the world. World, meet port wine stains, ala Emma. These birthmarks are surprisingly common, roughly 3 in 1,000 babies will be born with them, but most mothers choose to wipe their baby's young slate clean and have them removed. But my mum didn't want me to put me through that kind of pain when the marks were totally harmless. So she let me roam free after my 9 months of solitary womb confinement. Fair enough mum, fair enough!

And to tell you the truth, when I was younger I didn't really give them much thought. Like anything else on your body that you are born with, you are sort of just used to it. Just like you accept that you have elbows and eyelashes, I accepted my tinted skin. Young kids are pretty accepting of themselves before other people decide that "nope, you're different and I don't like it." The word different becomes interchangeable with words like weird, ugly and even ew. That in in itself is pretty sad that we are automatically programmed to see difference as a hinderance, not simply as individual. Society is really going to have to get their shit together with that. Just a reminder...

It wasn't until I noticed other people's lingering (not longingful) glances, and a few uncomfortable comments that made me realise that I was just a little bit different. And by uncomfortable, I mean being told that I looked like the midwife had thrown me down the stairs and into some fire after being born, nice huh? And as a self-conscious teenager, this revolution was not welcomed. The more I realised other people noticed these blotches, the more I did. I didn't/don't know how to accept that I am different. And it isn't the most convenient thing to change; it would take many months of painful laser surgery that would set me back £3000. But my money tree has never been that well endowed, and I half fainted when I got my ears pierced (at the embarrassing age of 18), so maybe not.

We all have stuff we are self conscious about: spots, dandruff, body hair, the list goes on indefinitely. But for the most part, you stumble through these insecurities with the somewhat comforting knowledge that 'at least i'm not the only one' or 'maybe i'll grow out of it'. But I didn't know anyone with this kind of skin, I still don't, so how does one find comfort then? Well, I am still figuring that one out. But what I am settling on for now is (and I think it's pretty good), just to work towards being truly, deeply, accepting of your own and other people's differences, quirks, abnormalities and 'flaws'. That word, 'flaws', I didn't want to have to use it, and damn it, i've used it twice now. I don't want to see my differences as a flaw, or for that matter, anyone else's.

So, I've shoved in this debut of my port patches as a first literal step toward self acceptance. Not using any editing to try blur them out, or standing like a mermaid with my right leg tucked in the back (which never looks cool and I really need to stop). I hope that one day when I search on youtube 'port wine stain pride', that there will be even one video that isn't outlining their journey through laser surgery removal.

I hope that my feeble attempt to spread a good message about body positivity in reference to me and my body's little journey goes some way to comforting even one person, or altering the mindset of another - however slight. So if you see someone who looks a little different the next time you're out, it's fine to look, notice, acknowledge, but instead of staring and making that person feel like a walking exhibition, just think for a second. Take your eyes off of them, think about your automatic thought process that may have led you to a slightly judgemental conclusion. Hold a mini celebration up in that gorgeous brain up there and just accept them, and take it as encouragement to accept yourself that little bit more.  

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Bigger Than Your House-Pets.

We all have those fond and fluffy memories of family day trips to the zoo; but as we grow up and ask bigger questions and seek real answers, the soft, free range wool is pulled from our eyes and the truth about captive parks is revealed. There are still over 100 zoo's in the UK today despite glaringly obvious reasons to close them- as if the sad face of a lonely lion looking at you through scratched prison bars wasn't apparent enough-.
There is a wealth of information demonstrating the cruelty of these pet prisons, but incase you missed all of it, I’ll outline a few points here. One very obvious fact is that animals in zoos quite simply suffer. Numerous studies have shown the unnatural behaviours demonstrated by zoo bound animals, for example, a study found that 54% of captive elephants showed repetitive behaviour and lions spent 48% of their time pacing. But luckily, these animals don't have to walk back and forth in their boxes too long because animals have been proven to die prematurely in zoos. Elephants left to roam free in the wild live three time longer than those imprisoned in zoos. Finally, and most shockingly, surplus animals are often killed in zoos. A Captive Animals Protection Society study found that no less than 7,500 animals in European zoos can be culled at any one time. Putting them out of their misery at least, right?
Okay, so on a much smaller and borderline humane scale, there is only one analogy that I can think of that comes close to the idea of zoos, which is the unmistakable feeling cabin fever. You know that feeling when the sun is baking the pavement outside, and you're stuck inside cramming for exams but all you can think about is lounging outside in your paddling pool with a Pina Colada lovingly cradled in your hand. Add to this premature death, forced mating and a hoard of people starting at you, expecting you to do something other than lie in the corner in a melancholy state.
There are always petitions and campaigns floating about on the internet that you can sign or join to help the fight. Below are a couple of petitions that I found that you can sign if you feel the need to fight against these pet prisons.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A Purrfect Sunday

A furry compadre us humans (well, the cat clan members) will happily stroke repeatedly- the same motion, over and over again- potentially for hours. Keeping both hands on the cat at all times and one eye on the T.V. This tolerance for repeti
tive actions is something I don't seem to possess when it comes to reluctantly chasing my own feet on the treadmill. For anything besides petting kitties or eating Reece's peanut butter doughnuts, I'd claim to have sustained repetitive strain injury and seek compensation.

Introducing my 'Friends' inspired cat, Joey.
Ah the soothing softness when your hands slip jealously over the cat's furiously fluffy coat. No, coat doesn't do it justice. The cat's snugglesome dressing gown- one of those luxurious expensive one's from M&S. Grooming the purring pile with my own winter dry, naked-molerat, evolutionary error, furr-less skin. Oh how I dream of the past millenia of our monkey days, when we too had some kind of furry cardigan. Perhaps that train of thought is only applicable to me.

But it can't just be the elegant exterior of the kitty cats that we find so appealing. Replace the soft creature with an equally slippy silky scarf. An arguably equally hand hugging texture, but not something I can imagine being satisfactory to the companion and comfort craving cat crusaders. No, like all good kids movies morals, cat loving is not just skin deep. There is a kitty quality, a sense of calm and some expert level pet owners would say a completeness that can be achieved from settling down into the sofa with your favourite film and feline.

(And to address the comments about cats being self serving, snobby creatures, I have a rebuttal. Have you ever had such fun with a cucumber? To clarify; I mean scaring cats with said cucumbers. Additionally, they're very fluffy. To clarify again; I mean the cats, not the cucumbers).

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A Resolution About Resolutions

Another year, another fated opportunity to incorrectly scribble down last years date. Fortunately, mutating a 5 into a 6 is perfectly passable on paper. On the 1st of January, we all take a drunken stumble into our recycled and often unachieved New Year's resolutions. And as we do every year, we promise ourselves that we really are more motivated than before, plus 4 to 400 other excuses for gaining that stone instead of losing it. But my cat being lost really did throw off my diet, it was very distracting, honestly.

At the chime of midnight, we make promises to ourselves with the best intentions, but at the end of the year if we didn't achieve them, the only person disappointed is ourselves. So why is it that we cannot commit to doing something that ultimately will make us happier? Imagine if every person in the world who made a resolution actually achieved it- my god, we'd have an incredibly slim, smoke-free, money stable and well travelled population. To paint a population percentage picture, in the US, 45 percent of people make New Year's resolutions, but just 8 determined little percent of them were successful in their endeavours. So a well done to Bob, Sue And Timothy last year, we're all proud of you.

As much as statistics could potentially discourage you from setting big goals, I mean it is fair enough, announcing to a crowd of hugging, kissing and cheering individuals at your new years party, as the party poppers stream across the room, “ALL OF YOU WILL FAIL”, isn't really inspiring. I think we should all try to boost the percentage of success stories. Prove to the human race that not only the elite can have Yoda like mind power when it comes to determination and will power. This year's resolution is to achieve a resolution. Go.  

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Subscribing to the idea.

      Youtube, an internet platform for the creative, the crazy and the 'Charlie Bit My Finger'. A website, which at first, was seemingly named after the vague insults directed at those who posted videos “oh, you tube”. Only the furiously furry cuddly cat videos, the outlandish and the embarrass-proof lip-syncers gyrating to Britney Spears became viral and really nothing else seemed to exist. Videos once unwittingly uploaded in the assumption that they would silently slink off into a dark, quiet corner of the internet, now back to mega-bite individuals on the bottom when youtube became a more universally accessible and active site.
      This quietly quirky online gathering of the wacky creatives, the 'You've Been Framed' aspirers, even the ego enriched individuals seeking just that little bit of extra 'look at my facetime' have congregated to a formidable extent and a new profession has been born. The generation that has kept it's nose firmly pressed against the screen has accidentally snorted up a bit of inspiration to make a name and an income by being a tangible version of themselves online.
      The only glitch for many being that the footage is to be published to the dementors of the web, who's scaly fingers are poised eagerly to suck the joy and confidence from the discoloured roots of your hair to your big boring bones with the tactical use of hate fuelled comments. These 'trolls' have blossomed into a community of cheerless-leaders for the content creators, managing to pick out almost sub-cellular flaws in those who poke their innocent toes onto the site.
      The fact that this career is now available to virtually anyone unwittingly partaking in the digital age is one of the greatest achievements of the 21st century (perhaps sitting respectfully behind the whole robotic and genetic engineering malarky). A self expressive, home based employment option has never been so widely attainable- potentially making millions of pretty green bills from the bum cradling comfort of your computer desk and chair.
      However, this tasty doughnut comes with a hefty spoonful of saturated fat to sink straight to that pillow padded bottom. These ordinary keyboard clutchers are now swimming their way into the main steam of media, and are being exploited. To the big- vulture like- companies, these people are a formidably sized slab of fresh meat to be picked at. They have multi million strong audiences, an established online platform to preach whatever they feel to an audience who trusts their word, and for the most part, these content creators need the cash, so are more likely to do it than other celebrities who rake in a fair few more gold leaves in their line of work. So, cheap advertisements to a susceptible audience, a.k.a the cheapest celebrity endorsement out there.
      Personally, I have some sneaking aspirations to make a username for myself on this majestic online oasis. I'd like to think if I rolled my desk chair into youtube stardom, my keyboard dented finger tips could resist the tempting scent of the precious pressed paper wafted under my nose from the big business bosses. But, if it truly came to it, I predict it would more be a case of only promoting the products I truly used down to the 'monthly empties' video. A fair compromise coming from a hypothetically stardom slapped youtuber, really.
      But in the mean time, my pyjamas will sink into my skin as I let my eyes lap up videos, holding a vaguely jealous middle finger to those who exploit their eager eyed audiences, and admiration for the rest of the youtuber bird nest.

Friday, 31 July 2015

A Tourist Or A Traveller?

I feel an oxymoronic distain for the huddling, sweat sprouting tourists that consume the Colosseum to an extent not even achieved by the Romans themselves. I felt trapped in a herd of culture craving sheep, but uncool sheep, with bum bags and seeping sun screen smears.  
     As I attempted to follow in the Vatican City slip stream as we were shown into the Sistine Chapel, I found my complaints arrowed and directed toward the others on their similar pilgrimages almost too contradictory to comprehend. The other sweat swaddled sheep have equal rights to marvel at Michaelangelo's breath grabbing brushwork as I. Although some choose to do so firmly plugged into headphone tours, which I think paradoxically detach a person from what splendour they travelled so far to experience.
     So what is the solution? Should no-one visit the major cities that are so inconveniently interesting enough to entice you onto an aeroplane. Paris, Rome, New York City, Bangkok: off bounds due to over population of tourists. Perhaps limit the number of part time patrons seeking a refreshing summer beverage of culture squash? Single file: tourists only enter city when another leaves. 
     There are of course equally incredible, eye massaging, brain boosting corners of this earth that comparatively remain untapped resources of the sweet, enriching squash that we could all disperse to. This is definitely a viable option, but people are fair in their desire to visit the more well known capitals. I certainly loved lapping up the tasty offerings of Rome, and wouldn't have jumped ship (literally and figuratively to another country) simply because other people are enjoying it too. Pizza is worth more than that to me. So whats a traveller to do? I suppose for now I will try to make my peace with the bum bag brandishers; learn to put a city loving invisibility cloak over all the neon tank tops and ear plugged people who congregate directly in front of the piece I desperately peer around to see.  

Monday, 13 July 2015

Midnight Mischief

 Saturday, 3am.Women limping, men pimping. Aching, bruised feet numbed by the body burning shots slung back before taking on the post party storm of stumbling clubbers. Men seemingly strutting home with their night's proud prize or sulking in the arms of their equally sexless chums.      
 Not being my usual willing addition to the pissed parade was oddly sobering during my excursion to the airport at this peak party time. I gleaned a new perspective of the drunken pilgrimages back form the holy temples, that take the from of clubs in this Scottish capital.
 A Night At The Museum film feeling takes hold when the statues- who during the sunny hours are tourist attractions, looked at from a respectful distance- are brought to life, transforming into amusing bull rides for groups of blurry eyed compadres. Rickshaws that provide family fun to meander the Edinburgh streets with, are now lad carts providing an environmentally friendly drag race for some home bound banter.
 It seems that in the night hours, social, even legal rules make way for a little bit of loose lipped fun after being kicked out of your favoured watering hole.You can get away with so much more midnight mischief when the day walkers are tucked in with duvets and dreams. May this nocturnal crew continue to utilise the empty eerie hours of darkness to the best of their beer goggled abilities.