THE COLLEAGUE

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People often talk about how important their friends are.

We so frequently recall fond memories of those we have known since university or school and we praise our families for being wonderful- and don’t get me wrong, these people are the people I turn to first. I do feel, however, that we need to give our work colleagues a little more credit for the crucial part that they play in our everyday lives.

Hear me out.

I get that your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover has to endure a run down of the last eight hours at the end of a long, hard day. I know that your girlfriends are the ones nursing your broken heart when things don’t quite work out as planned. Your mum and dad will no doubt be the ones to get you through a really rough patch, it was your grandparent’s job to spoil you rotten and your brother or sister are there to let you know that you’ve put on a bit of weight when no one else will. But the people you work with? They’re the ones who see you everyday, come rain or shine. On a good side of the bed day or on a bad side of the bed day. There’s no respite for those you share a desk with and they have to look at your face for at least six hours a day, whether they (or you) like it or not and this is why I feel it’s high time we celebrate these people we find ourselves spending most of our time with.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that a good work colleague is hard to come by. In fact, starting a new job is a bit like an arranged marriage: you just don’t know what you’re going to get, but what I can say, with some certainty, is that knowing that I can have snippets of great conversation and a laugh at some point between the hours of 9am and 5pm is what makes me stop hitting snooze on my alarm each day. Aside from loving what I do, of course.

More to the point though, post-education, where else do you get the chance to meet and make life-long friends anymore? As a twenty-something, you can’t just approach people in bars and ask them to hang out with you as a mate. Nor do apps intended for this purpose ever really work. Friendship groups are set in stone by 27 and work is the only place you get to meet anyone new. Yet another reason why work colleagues are the bomb.

This positive outlook on desk mates, however, isn’t always agreed upon. In fact, I’ve heard tales-a-plenty about torturous co-workers in the last few days and I recently listened to a podcast by The Pool where someone had written in to ask for advice on how to handle their god-awful neighbouring teammate who chewed really loudly at their desk and sighed a lot. First of all: really dude? personal space, please. Secondly, it made me realise how lucky I have been. Although I’ve had some awkward romantic encounters and have faced both healthy disagreements and a couple of disappointments throughout my working life, I have always managed to find people I click with within my team, company or school and it is those humans who I would like to celebrate today. The ones who put up with my incessant need to talk things through, the ones who help curb my habit of writing endless lists and those who spend hours after work chatting, just because.

So, colleagues of the world: although we might have to make small talk with one another on impromptu tube rides home, spend lunch times working next to each other instead of eating across from one another and we may get a little inappropriate at after work drinks, you are what makes the 9-5 bearable, so let’s be grateful for that.

Tomorrow, take the time to offer a colleague a cup of tea or fetch them a diet coke from the shop. If you have a bit of spare time, offer them a helping hand with something they’re working on, or just get blind drunk on prosecco after hours for no reason at all.

You never know, once you get to talking to people, you might go from being colleagues to life-long friends.

Lord knows, stranger things have happened.

THE LATE TWENTIES

large (2)And just like that, I turned 27.

It seems like only yesterday that I didn’t want mum and dad to leave me alone at the school gate; since I had my first boyfriend; since I was put into detention for talking too much and since graduation. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was too scared to ask for mayonnaise in restaurants, since I drank prosecco despite the hellish hangover to follow and since I bought all my clothes in Primark. Basically, time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.

And so here I am. In my late twenties. Young for some, ancient to others.

But what’s it like?

Well, when people asked me at 17 where I thought I’d be in ten years time, I certainly wouldn’t have painted a picture of my current Hannah Horvath infused lifestyle. I wouldn’t have been living at home and I wouldn’t do what I do for a living. I used to think that when you were my age you were an adult: mortgaged, engaged, successful, maybe even pregnant? I was so excited about turning 27 that I used to stick apples down my shirt and prance around the house pretending to be as old as I am now. I had so many expectations for this year. And in truth, now that I’ve arrived, it’s a bit… weird. 

It’s sort of a halfway house between feeling capable enough to have a mortgage and raise children, but not wanting to. It’s a confusing mix of wanting to eat snacks on a comfortable sofa over going out dancing but then dearly missing the stories from epic nights out. It’s wishing that you had more responsibilities than you do but being secretly happy that you don’t own a dishwasher. It’s that fine line between crop tops and tees. It’s the knowing that you’re not old enough to feel stable just yet but also being very aware of the fact that you’re not young enough to live a completely carefree and frivolous lifestyle anymore.

But for all it’s uncertainty in some aspects of life, being 27 means that I know who I am and that all I want is to be happy. I finally know what clothes suit me and that it’s okay to wear winged eyeliner on the daily. I know that my freckles aren’t my own worst enemy. I know that my legs might not be my favourite feature but they’re not the worst that could happen to me. I smile everyday. And I know who my friends are.

But most of all? I recognise that it’s important to be grateful and that things will work out if I try hard enough.

Being 27 might come with a few more grey hairs and the pesky ability to put on weight far easier than being 26, but the understanding yourself a little better is well worth the wait.

Happy Birthday to me.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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I’ve been rubbish, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’ve no real excuse. Except for that I’ve been consumed by end of term madness and a bit of a hectic time of it at the moment. But it’s Easter Sunday and here are some of my favourites from the last seven days for you to enjoy. Proper post to come soon. Have a great Easter break.

Read

Boob is Best

WOAH

Food for Thought (excuse the pun)

It’s madness

Gender

Mental Health

Irish History

True Story

Disgraceful

Love your Labia

Predrinks

Watch

London Love

Girl Talk

X

THE LOVE

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I was going to end my celebration of love on a list of things I currently adore: from the new season of Girls and fish pie to fat coke and spring sunshine.

But how could I celebrate the most powerful of all the emotions for four weeks running without even mentioning the big fat love of my own life, instead opting for a list of vacuous things I sort of like at the moment? You might find the following post gushing or boastful, but I just think it’s fitting. Because, although I find it cathartic to reminisce, and you probably find it more entertaining reading about my tragic mishaps and bad choices of the past, I think it’s important to also be grateful (and honest) about what really ticks my tock (snacks aside) in the here and now.

So here goes.

I currently share a bed with a man whom I – in equal parts – love dearly but also wish to strangle at almost every hour of the day. He is horrendous at making plans, one of the worst communicators and spends far too much time on Buzzfeed and/or BBC News, whilst I grapple for a comforting spoon or a much needed boob grope. Vegetables are exempt from his diet. He eats a little too loudly when it’s just the two of us. If it’s yellow, he let’s it mellow. He has a terrible – and really quite bizarre – phobia of pregnant women falling over. And we disagree on pretty much every political opinion a person can have.

But he is also kind. Loving. And overwhelmingly gentle for a man of his stature. He loves my freckles. He runs me baths. And he surprises me every single day. He is the sort of guy who springs a (very romantic) Valentine’s surprise on you and accepts that you choose (the not so romantic) Meat Mission as your dinner selection at the end of it. He sleeps in a single bed with you and bares the stiff neck the next day. He understands the importance of a perfectly-timed poached egg. He showers as much as you and knows a good coffee when he tastes one. He is the sort of guy who buys you a powder blue bike (basket included) for your first birthday together (2 months in). He is the type of person you meet in New York a month later while he’s away for business, just because. And he’s the sort of guy who surprises you with a trip to Norway for Christmas, so that you can pretend to be Anna from Frozen for a few days in the snow. He puts up with your singing, adoration (obsession) with Jemima Kirke and your complete inability to deal with a hangover. In fact, he puts up with you. Full stop.

So, right now, for as long as it takes you to read this post, I would like to celebrate the love I have with him. And then, I promise, I’ll get right back to humour, sarcasm and laughing in the face of anyone who takes life (and themselves) a little bit too seriously.

Love can appear out of the most unexpected of scenarios or places. In my case, it was via an app. In your case, it might be through work, via a friend of a friend, or at a very messy house party. But I’m happy to have discovered – after a month of people sharing their experiences of the heart – that, in whichever way love falls into our arms, we are all pretty damn grateful for it. Be it the good times that we can cherish, the heart break that has taught us a valuable lesson or the decisions that we have been forced to consider that only make us stronger. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

So, even if you have to pick pieces of chewed up food out of his bushy beard, share your hair bands with him or suffer from being spooned to the point of suffocation, just let love in. Because the real thing – when you eventually find it – probably (definitely) won’t look the way you think it should. And it will absolutely be better than you ever could have imagined.

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Thank you for reading and celebrating with me this month. And thanks to all those who bore their souls to me and allowed me to share their experiences with my readers.

Keep cuddling, keep smiling and keep being honest with those who have nabbed a piece of your heart, because one day it might be a little too late to let them know just how much they mean to you.

THE FAKE LOVE

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He was really funny.

Like, ‘my cheeks hurt’, ‘I almost just pissed my pants’, funny.

He smoked. He drank gin. He sat at the desk next to me at work.

I loved him. The only problem was, somebody else loved him too. That person was his girlfriend.

For us, there were no meeting of eyes across a packed room and it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. He was in a new city and I was a bit… lost. We got on. A few messages and intense after work drinks later, we kissed.

And that was sort of that.

By ‘that’ I, of course, mean full-blown affair.

But did I care that I was doing the dirty? Not really. I was going at 100mph and enjoying myself too much to notice his relationship falling apart, to care that the guy I was seeing was getting hurt too, to think about the innocent woman who was driving herself mad with suspicion or to realise that what I was doing was wrong. We spent all our time together at work. We spent all our time together outside work (that we could manage). We stayed late almost every evening. We drank together every night. We met up on lazy afternoons in galleries and on park benches. I would do all I could to see him: cancelling plans, avoiding dinner dates. I even called things off with the perfect guy for him.

It was safe to say I was addicted.

But, as with most addictions, they always leave you wanting more.

So, after months of empty promises, disappointment and getting in too deep, I decided to cut and run. There was no future for us. There never really was. And the stronger fix I was chasing was never going to be found. He loved his girlfriend – despite what he did – and I knew that we would never work. As soon as I realised that I was chasing an unachievable dream with a heart that I was sharing with somebody else, it was clear what I had to do. And so I did.

I’ll admit it, I did cry when it was over. In fact, it pretty much ruined Christmas for me. But the fact that I had dusted myself off by New Year and work resumed as normal – sans romance with him – come January 5th? It meant that I never really loved him in the first place.

In retrospect, I can now see that the all too familiar butterflies and beating in my chest that I mistook for symptoms of love, were actually just a byproduct of my anxieties surrounding getting caught. I realise now that it was the adrenalin – not him – that had made me fall in love with the ‘relationship’ we had.

So, to those of you enveloped in the heart racing, blood pumping momentum of an extra marital? Take this as a slap to the face and a shocking realisation that, actually, it probably won’t work out. And even if it does, do you really want to pursue a relationship with one who is so capable of deceiving someone they share a bed with? The beauty of an affair is that you get to realise what you don’t want in a partner and who you don’t want to become. You berate yourself for being so blind and stupid, but it also makes you realise just how powerful desire can be sometimes, how often it can be mistaken for the real deal and how careful you should be in the future.

The biggest lesson I learnt from falling for someone who was in a relationship with someone else? Don’t do it. Real love isn’t a half hearted, part time, sharing platter. It is a full time, kick you in the balls, can’t be without each other attraction that is both one hundred percent uncontrollable and easy at the same time. It is comfort, understanding and support. It is not holding hands under tables and hiding your phone from your partner. With real love, both parties will fight to the death for it. Not make excuses about rent prices and comfort zones.

Take it from me, never give your everything to someone who is giving theirs to someone else.

Two’s company and three’s (nearly always) a crowd.

THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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As my month of love continues to grow, I thought I would stick to all things relationships and sex for this week’s Sunday Papers post. Here’s my round up of romance from the last 7 days.

Sex Myths Decoded

Single and Proud

Going the Distance

Dating at 30

Sober

For When Cupid Doesn’t Strike

A Love Story

Bag a Bargain

Addicted to Love

Ridin’ Solo

Couples Living With Couples

When Divorce is a Good Thing

Women Enjoy It Too

I can’t get no…

Have a great week.

THE 14TH FEBRUARY

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I love it when people say that they dislike Valentine’s Day. Except I don’t love it. I hate it. Particularly when the same people scrutinising its sentiment also celebrate Christmas, Easter, a Friday or even their uncle’s Bah Mitzvah in the only way they know how: with presents, alcohol and too much food.

So what’s the problem with celebrating love in much the same way?

They complain about shop windows, overpriced goods and the pressure to buy. But the same humans, come December 1st, turn into elves themselves, donning Christmas jumpers, drinking too much whiskey and tucking into overpriced Christmas cheese. And I’m pretty sure they ain’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday. They just enjoy the time of year. They like investing time in family – until Uncle Toby drinks too much wine and tells you about that time he and Aunt Sheila did the dirty in the back of your family car – and they get stuck in.

But they come to a halt on love day.

They grimace, they denounce their involvement and shy away from card buying and gift giving.

But why?

The ‘I show you every day’ sentiment doesn’t wash with me. That’s nice and all and I really appreciate being spooned to the point I think I might suffocate on a nightly basis, but why is it such a hardship for you to show me just that little bit more on one day of the year? Yes, card shops relish in this time of year. But they also exploit our warm hearts at many other times throughout the calendar months; so what’s new? You know as well as I do that we’re exploited by big retailers on pretty much a daily basis, but if you really want to roll with that excuse? Then use your hands and make a card, squeeze them extra tightly or cook them a nice meal. Nobody ever said you had to actually buy something.

I think that hating on Valentine’s Day is a little ‘on trend’ but the question I’m asking is: when did love go out of fashion? In a world that can be bleak and a little bit scary, why wouldn’t we take any opportunity we can to celebrate something positive and tell those who we love that we don’t know where we’d be without them and spoil those who most deserve it?

Basically, I don’t care if it’s not really your thing. In fact, let it glide past you for all I care. But don’t shout your mouth off about how much you hate it, because Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. Make a crappy card, treat them to a homemade red velvet, sit on the sofa with snacks and a good film or just don’t fart on their leg for the next 24hrs. Whatever love is to you, celebrate that in the best way you can.

The 14th February might not mean much to you, but to someone who needs a little loving (i.e. everybody at one point or other), it can mean a heck of a lot.

Have a good one love bunnies.

OUR LIPS AREN’T SEALED

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Love is one of those things that has the ability to knock you sideways, whilst also being able to seep in silently like a good scent. It can appear as if from out of nowhere, but it can also grow for years before you realise you’ve even been struck by it. Sometimes, you don’t even know you’ve had it until it’s gone. But that’s the thing with love, you never know what form it’s going to take, how to prepare for it or in what way it’s going to shape you. But it does shape you, in one way or another. Every. Single. Time.

And I think that’s something worth talking about.

So, seeing as Valentine’s Day is pretty much on our doorstep, I thought now would be a good time to do just that. Yes, it’s a ‘Hallmark holiday’ and a cheap excuse for retailers to up the price of prosecco and long stemmed roses, but it’s also a chance to celebrate love in a few of its many guises.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding a pair of lips or two to this post, just below where you’re reading now. Behind each set, you’ll find a tale about a type of love that somebody has experienced (for better or for worse). These stories have been told by people I know, people I don’t know, people I’ve met and some that I haven’t. And then, of course, some by me. From the dangerous and forbidden to lost and lesbian love, I have it covered. But please, if you feel compelled to write one of your own, send it over. I’ll be posting throughout the month, so there’s still plenty of time to spill the beans.

Although we might not like to admit it, we have all had our fair share of both heart-make and heart-break and I think it’s time we spoke honestly about these experiences in order to both celebrate and laugh in the face of love.

Come inside, our lips are far from sealed.

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THE KIDS

Little cherubs.

Great bundles of joy.

The apples of our proverbial eyes.

Sure, all of these things are true, when you don’t have them for longer than an hour at a time. But as soon as you make the mistake of offering two, sore-eyed parents a weekend off from their little ones, this opinion soon changes.

As they wave you off with a wild smile and prosecco already in hand, you should start saying your goodbyes. There’ll be no brunch buying, coffee drinking and gallery hopping for the next two days. Say hello to toilet stops, cartoon binges and game playing. Get used to question answering, knee plastering and “are we there yet?” ringing in your ears. Your weekend slowly disappears before your very eyes. Your time is not your own anymore. You are not number one. Not only is this a wasted weekend but your entire life is changed forever. You call your friends in case you don’t make it out alive and give them all your next of kin, just in case.

No, I’m not being dramatic. It’s just that this weekend confirmed something to me: that even as I edge closer to 30, I am not ready for children yet. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are two of the most pleasant, well-mannered children I have ever met. They don’t moan. They’re easily pleased. They get on with each other. They are intelligent. They like to have fun. Basically, they’re the type of children that those who have given birth to squealing spawns of Satan are jealous of. Almost too good to be true. Which is why I couldn’t understand why it put me off having kids so much.

But I’ve come to realise that, basically, I’m just too selfish.

Prior to the weekend, the subject of kids had come up quite a few times between me and my girlfriends. We ignorantly proclaimed that we could handle kids now that we’re at the ripe old age of 26 and 27. We discussed names. What they would look like. How we would discipline them. We pictured our lives not changing very much (which is just plain stupid). We spoke about how we would carry on as normal, wearing the same clothes and being able to maintain manicures and waxes, just with a baby attached to our boob. No big deal. We wondered what people were complaining about.

All of the parents reading this are probably laughing at our ignorance.

And after this weekend? I’m right there with you.

But above anything else, I am left wondering how people actually do it. Parenthood, I mean.  After those few hours spent looking after little ones, 11pm felt like 4am. I didn’t reapply my lipstick once. I didn’t want a drink, I just wanted my bed. I don’t think Ryan and I spoke for most of the weekend, we just took it in turns to take toilet trips and made eye contact only to say “it’s your turn”. AND THIS WAS ONLY TWO DAYS OF PRETEND PARENTHOOD. Imagine what we’d be like if the stork came and dropped one off prematurely- screwed is the only word I can think to describe it.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time I’ve looked after little ones. In actual fact, I have been surrounded by them my entire life. Cousins. Second cousins. Pupils. Family friends. The list goes on. I actually find kids funny, I like the questions they ask and I somehow enjoy their company. But do I want one by my side from now until forever? Hell no. Well, not yet anyway. I guess sixteen rounds on an ice rink, a few messy food stops, a Disney film or two and a ring stuck on a child’s finger saga will do that to you.

So, parents of the world, I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before and I’d like to take this opportunity to say it again, I salute you. You are Gods, Goddesses, angels and miracle-workers. You are magic-makers and dream weavers and to those of you who manage to parent whilst maintaining a functional relationship, applying make up and ensuring that you’re wearing matching underwear each day? You’re not even human.

I’m off to watch Netflix in bed with snacks. Yet another one of my favourite past times that is just impossible with children.