Sunday, 19 October 2014

Relationship advice: How NOT to have an argument

Everybody thinks they know how to argue. And then they move in with somebody and find out that they don't.

I thought he and I were different. We don't like confrontation, I thought, so we'll just sort everything out like reasonable human beings, forgetting that I am not a reasonable human being.

And although it's true that we don't like confrontation (who does?), I do like a clean house, a tidy bedroom and to live with a human being who realises that if you're not in a room, you should TURN THE FLAMING LIGHT OFF. He, on the other hand, likes the precise opposite, so we had no choice but to exchange just a few cross words to ensure we'd both survive cohabitation.

And I know now that I did it all wrong. Although we survived the process, sometimes I wonder how. So to save everybody else the trouble, I thought I'd share what I learnt: here's how not to have an argument. Let this be a lesson to you.

Lots and lots and lots of sighing
Next time I update the 'Other interests' section of my CV, I'm going to add 'passive aggression'. My first tactic for addressing my frustration when I found that he had failed to change a toilet roll/not emptied the bin/left yet another pair of boxer shorts on the bathroom floor (is it intended as a gift? You know, like when a cat brings you a dead mouse or something?) was to sigh over and over again in the hope that the increase in condensation in the flat would alert him to his errors. It didn't work.

When asked what's wrong, say "Nothing"
When the sighing got so excessive that I was at risk of hyperventilating, he would give in and ask what was wrong. And instead of just explaining "Your inability to grate cheese on the kitchen worktops without it look like a bale of hay has just exploded in the house," I just said 'Nothing' and assumed that he would know that what I really meant was LOADS. Yeah, that didn't work either.

Start talking to yourself
This is probably the most absurd stage in the passive aggression journey. At the end of my ridiculous tether after he'd refused to decipher the precise meaning of my sighs and clearly coded 'Nothing', I resolved to just start talking to myself in the hope that he would finally catch on. It's very easy, all you do is stomp about whilst tidying the house muttering the following under your breath:
"Well hello there pair of pants, how very nice of you to come and sit right there in the middle of the bathroom floor! I guess I'll just pick you up myself, shall I? Hmmm?!
or, for the ultimate in being a complete twerp, start thanking yourself:
"Oh thank you, Charlotte! How kind of you to clean up all my sh*t! Yes you do have MUPPET tattooed on your forehead and may I say how well it goes with your eyes. Your big muppet eyes." 

He didn't bite. He just sat and watched, baffled as to why he had ever agreed to move in with such a complete lunatic.

When forced to explain what is the matter, completely lose your sh*t and all perspective about what you were originally cross about
Eventually after one to two hours of the aforementioned arsing about, he would finally ask me to just say what the matter was. And I'd have wound myself up SO much by that point that I would just start blurting out expletives whilst pointing at the fridge or the bin like a mad person. I'd be apoplectic with rage and yet I wouldn't really be sure why. His original crime - for example, eating all of the chocolate orange my grandma had bought for me, or talking during Coronation Street - had escalated to such an extent that I'd lost all ability to articulate myself. We'd both just have to retire to different rooms for a bit whilst I gathered myself, and he played X-Box until I was ready to start behaving like a normal human. What a bloody palaver.

Just calmly mentioned that something was bothering me, explained why and, as is the rule for everything in life, tried not to behave like a total dick. Who knew?

Well, now you do and thankfully so do I. Otherwise there's no way we'd have made it this far. If only somebody had told me all this before we'd moved in together, I'd have spent a lot less time being severely out of breath.

Oh well. *sighs*

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Six reasons to be extraordinarily happy

As my regular readers will know, posts here at Nothing Good tend to come with a heavy portion of cynicism and a side order of "Look at that knob head!" with the knob head in question usually being me.

But today I thought I'd slap on a happy face and talk about what's good in the world. Maybe it's the wedding I went to yesterday that made me cry tears of joy approximately four times, or perhaps it's the Cadbury's Dairy Milk I had on the way back. I don't know, but I'm in the mood to give it a shot.

I've done a fair bit of moaning recently - about being tired and broke and my kitchen refurbishment taking weeks and weeks to finish and blablablabla NOBODY. CARES. But that little nightmare is over now, and with a stomach full of home cooked grub, things don't look so bad after all.

So here it is, six very simple things to be extraordinarily happy about. Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

1. Socks!
If the summer must end, and it must, then at least we can enjoy being back in socks and, even better than that, new socks, straight from the packet onto your feet. And if you really want to maximise the fun, may I recommend popping on a good pair of slippers and perhaps even a pyjama bottom to go with them. The fact that I don't have my own line at Ann Summers remains astonishing to me.

2. Sweets!
I don't care how old you are, sweets exist to make your day better.  My husband gave me a bottle of strawberry mushrooms (above) for my birthday and I reacted like he'd give me keys to a Porsche - I was DELIGHTED. Give me a Porsche filled with sweets and I may explode. You know those programmes called stuff like 'Brits Off Their Bits On Booze Whilst On Holiday And Not Wearing Very Much Which Really Makes The Whole Thing A Lot More Embarrassing"? I don't understand why there has never been an equivalent made about people who have binged on sweets. One too many bags of fried eggs or dusty milk bottles and I'm hysterical with laughter, unable to stay upright and ready to hurl. 'Brits Off Their Faces On Strawberry Laces' is just a phone call away.

3. Friends!
Yes, the programme is indeed something to feel extremely happy about (although the fact that I'm not allowed to own the box set in case it makes me even less inclined to go out than I am already remains a sore point) but this time I'm talking about actual human chums. I consider the fact that I have seriously good, marvellously interesting and funny pals a major achievement. I don't need to join a gym, I just need regular catch ups with my friends. There's enough laughing, gasping for air and flailing my arms about involved (it's for dramatic effect, thanks) to rival any zumba class.

4. Dancing!
It's good to have at least one good dance per day. And you don't have to be at a party to do this (though give yourself a bonus ten 'cool' points if you do happen to go to such an event). Nope, you can be on the train, waiting to pick up something from the printer, or just hanging out in your kitchen, rustling up a marshmallow based snack. Wherever you are, a few swings of the hip are bound to make everything feel better. As to whether other people witnessing this act will feel the same level of joy is hard to guarantee, though if your moves are anything like mine, I'd say it's unlikely.

5. An empty weekend!
Plans and parties and shindigs involving alcohol are great but you know what's also swell? Staying at home and doing absolutely nothing. You can cook, you can clean and - fun fact - you can still have booze, just without the added risk of having to cope with public transport afterwards - brilliant! Hazard warning - to avoid causing too much damage, I do recommend cooking before cracking open any drinks. I understand kitchen refurbs can be quite the undertaking. *twitches*

6. Experimental fruit juice combinations!
Nothing can make me feel more positive about an establishment than the offer of a fresh mixed juice. I know, I know, I need to SLOW DOWN. Perhaps it's the colours, perhaps it's the flavours, or perhaps it's the knowledge that there is actually something in the world that is good for you and delicious (nice try, kale). Whatever it is, that sh*t is good.

So there we are. A little happiness for a Sunday afternoon. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to hit the dance floor. And by dance floor I mean kitchen floor - I think the combination of new socks and new tiles is going to create something my neighbours are really going to enjoy.

Perhaps this post does feature a little touch of knob head after all.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Anniversaries: The more the merrier

Anniversaries are good for you. I'm pretty sure any doctor would back me up.

Remembering the date on which nice things happened and taking the time to look back and say "Well, wasn't that a good day" and having a cake or a pork pie to celebrate doesn't do anybody any harm.

The only problem is that for those of us whose brains are unnecessarily good at remembering the exact date on which things take place, the anniversary calendar can get a little over populated.

I get that celebrating nine years since my husband and I first discovered that we both enjoy Jaffa Cakes does seem a little unnecessary but who doesn't love an excuse to binge on a box of those? And why is it that Clinton Cards doesn't sell "Happy first trip to IKEA together-aversary" cards? Now I come to think of it, it's probably because most couples don't make it past that point...

On Monday of last week, it was nine years since my husband said "Erm, so are you my girlfriend then?" and I - unaware that this would be the very (first and) last time that these words would ever be said to me replied "I guess I am". A momentous occasion, I'm sure you'll agree.

But now that we're married and have a grown up wedding anniversary to celebrate (which was only a few weeks ago) this date has been removed from the 'important dates on which we must leave the house and say nice things to each other' calendar. I feel robbed.

But I get why it's gone. Two anniversaries in a month is a lot of admin for one couple to take on, a lot of restaurants to book, a lot of cards to write, a lot of champagne infused burps to hold back. So we've agreed to go all out each year for the wedding one, and just to high five to mark the other. (And if I want to open a bottle of bubbles just for me then that's my decision *stumbles*). 

People's memories work in different ways. Some remember things by smell or by taste or by the music that was playing, and I remember things according to the precise date and time at which they happened. It's just unfortunate that my way makes me sound like a stalker. 

And it's not just limited to relationship stuff either. I happen to know that this week marks ten years since my now best friend and I became chums. I can't send her a card for that because she will think that I am insane. Similarly, it is a fact that on my birthday it was 29 years since I first met my mum. Why am I the only one who gets a present? She really did put all the effort into the occasion.

And let's not forget that the more anniversaries you celebrate the more excuses you have to eat and drink whatever you like. Fancy throwing down a full bag of Percy Pigs? Well, why not, it is two years since you and your boyfriend realised that they are far superior to Fizzy Pig Tails. Feel the need to consume an entire block of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut? Well, with it being six months since you had to explain to your other half that although, yes, the sofa is brown leather, melted chocolate does still show up on it, I'd say you deserve it. 

Life is tiring and complicated and involves far too few holidays for my liking, so we've got to find fun wherever we can. So if there happens to be a date in the diary that gives you an excuse to send a card or an email or affectionate thumbs up to somebody you're pleased to know then I say take it. 

You're basically giving another human being an excuse to go out and buy themselves a cake and how could that ever be a bad thing?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

5 things that happen when you have a fringe

1. You learn you can fit your head into any size sink
The first rule of fringe club is that you must NEVER TALK ABOUT FRINGE CLUB (mainly because people will think you're a loser). And the second rule of fringe club is that a fringe generally needs to be washed every day. They're just so needy. But what if you don't want to wash all of your hair? What if you've got better things to do, like pair up your socks, oil your zips, or just have an extra half hour in bed? Well, then you've no choice but to stick that thing under a tap. I may not be able to do a forward roll, touch my toes, or stand up without saying "Ooh, me back" but when it comes to fitting my head into a sink; I'm as flexible as they come.

2. You're always just one night's sleep away from looking like an eighties throwback
Regardless of how much you blow dry, straighten or talk nicely to your fringe during the day, as soon as you get into bed, that thing is out of your control. No matter what I do, every day when I wake up my fringe is a good three inches above my forehead, making my look like a scarecrow that has spent the last eight hours flat on its face. If a bunch of crows every decides to try and burgle our house in the middle of the night, they are in for a very nasty surprise.

3. People treat you like a hero (sort of)
"I just couldn't do what you do," they say, when beholding your new fringe, as if you've adopted a rare, endangered animal as a pet or given up chocolate forever. "How are you planning to look after that thing AND hold down a full time job?" They look at you and shake their head, baffled as to how you manage to fit it all in. Sometimes I wonder myself.

4. You can hide a world of sins beneath a fringe
Shiny forehead? Eyebrows in need of attention? Rasher of bacon you want to save for your elevenses? No worries! A good fringe will hide every single one of those bad boys (though the bacon will start to slip down after an hour or so). However, what you can't hide is the variety of other unexpected treats a fringe will collect during the day - mascara from the morning make-up dash, hot chocolate foam, bits of sandwich... You've really got to keep your wits about you.

5. You learn the hard way that, no; you shouldn't try and trim it yourself 
Put. The. Scissors. Down. Yes, I know it's getting in your eyes and that you can't see and that you're starting to look like Cousin Itt from The Addams Family but do not try and cut that thing yourself. Take it from someone who wasn't given such wise advice, had a go and spent the next two weeks looking like a three year old. You have been warned.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

9 ways to decide who you should marry

Every couple should have at least one day of the year that they don't waste fannying about on the internet.

And for us that day is today: our very first wedding anniversary.

But because I'm dedicated to this blog of mine (and a master of holiday packing avoidance) I wrote this week's post in advance of our anniversary trip.

I've been thinking about this one for a while, about what this year has taught me. And aside from the fact that being referred to as 'Mrs' makes you feel at least 20 years older and that changing your surname results in more trips to the Post Office than any human should have to endure, the main lesson I've learnt is what marriage is all about: getting on extremely well with another human being, regardless of what life throws at you.

So to celebrate the fact that we've managed to get along for a whole year, I thought I'd share what I think it takes to do just that. Because what could be more romantic than a good checklist?

1. Marry somebody who feels the same about the apostrophe as you do. That sh*t will tear you apart.

2. Marry somebody who is willing to move train carriage just because the dude behind you is tapping his foot like an inconsiderate MORON. It's crucial that you share the same level of hatred for strangers.

3. Marry someone who doesn't judge you for binge consuming crisps/doughnuts/fried egg sweets. (And who understands that BINGERS DO NOT SHARE.)

4. Marry somebody you enjoy sitting in silence with.  Marriage is at least 50% silence (eating, sleeping, staring at your phone) so you might as well make it comfortable.

5. Marry somebody who takes a different route to work from you. Everybody hates couples who commute together. Don't be those people.

6. Marry a person who understands that just because they see you in pyjamas more frequently than actual clothes, it doesn't mean you're not still a hugely attractive and sexual being. You just also happen to enjoy wearing comfortable waistbands.

7. Marry somebody whose bath water you're happy to share. What are you - made of money?

8. Marry somebody you can still fancy after seeing them throw up. Wedding vows do not protect you from food poisoning, as I found out ON OUR HONEYMOON.

9. Marry somebody you like very much. Forever is a long time.

Now, I'd better get on with my packing. And seeing as it's such a special occasion, I may even leave my pyjamas at home.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Adulthood: Where did all my energy go?

Our kitchen is being refurbished tomorrow.

And, in preparation, we have had to spread its entire contents around our very small flat. The plates and glasses now live in the bath, the dining chairs and table are on the sofa, and the iron stands right in front of the television, taunting me when I try to relax.

I want this work to be done. I requested it and I'll even pay for it in a few months' time (thank you interest free credit), but it doesn't stop me dreading getting home from work tomorrow to remember that the fridge is out of action and that the dishwasher - my dearest friend - has been unplugged until further notice.

I haven't even had to put in that much effort. Although I came up with all the ideas - wooden worktops, an easy-wash floor and a cupboard specifically dedicated to housing Cadbury's products - I don't have much to offer on the physical front. I was in charge of moving the wine glasses into the bath (a location I might stick with post-refurb) and putting all the food that went out of date in 2012 in the bin. That's it. But I am still shattered. Not so much from the tasks themselves (although I did have to throw an inexplicably high volume of 'vintage' flour in the bin *sneezes*), but from the chaos that now surrounds me and the promise of more to come.

This is what being an adult feels like: desperation to make things better and then exhaustion at the thought of the effort involved. I don't know where all our energy goes. Perhaps we grow out of it.

Take yesterday. I wanted to buy new jeans. If you've ever been shopping for denim you will know that no activity on earth will bring a grown adult closer to tears. In fact, purchasing jeans would be an ideal punishment for somebody who has done something terrible - like saying 'pacific' instead of 'specific' or talking during Coronation Street. It is the single most frustrating and exhausting type of shopping and I just can't do it anymore. My new strategy is to order a gazillion pairs online in the hope that one of the bastards fits, and then sending the rest back. Though how I'm going to muster the energy to try them all on, I do not know.

But for every tiring endeavour comes a silver lining. With a refurbished kitchen comes a week of eating takeaway and with an online shopping order comes post, and who doesn't love post?

In just a week's time I will have a brand new kitchen, cupboard space big enough to hold a year's supply of chocolate, and a need to find something new to complain about.

And I reckon that 'thing' will be that I can't fasten my new jeans. A week eating prawn crackers and egg fried rice for tea is bound to take its toll on my waistline. I'll probably have to jump up and down just to get them over my hips and, to be honest, that's more effort than I'm willing to put in.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

How to relax: 4 easy ways to chill the hell out

This weekend I have learnt a new skill: relaxing.

With so many screens to look at and people to see and stuff that constantly needs cleaning, how's a person supposed to get a minute to themselves in 2014? Well, it turns out that it is possible; you just have to be disciplined. Here's a four step guide to chilling the hell out:

1. Do one thing at a time
I have always been terrible at this. I can't even walk down the stairs from my bedroom to the kitchen without treating it like it's the last time I will ever make the journey. Heaven forbid I should descend without every used glass, load of washing and handbag in my hands in case I never get the opportunity again. Of course I could make a second trip but that would use up my essential letter opening/fridge reorganising/catching up with Coronation Street time - these tasks won't do themselves, you know! Well, no, but doing one at a time will reduce the chances of tumbling down the stairs and landing on the floor with the entire contents of my bedroom on my head. And doing just one thing at a time is much more enjoyable. Fancy reading a book? Then just do that - don't read it whilst simultaneously loading the dishwasher, changing the bed and alphebetising your CD collection. Want to spend time on ASOS selecting clothes you don't need? Do it. But not with 35 other pages open that'll distract you from the task at hand. (Particularly any online banking sites - your statement can really kill the mood). 

2. Don't feel guilty 
The way to do this is to a) realise that whatever else you think you should be doing whilst you're reading a book/watching a film/purchasing yet another leopard print dress will still be waiting for you when you're finished and b) enjoy yourself so much that you stop caring about it altogether. I sat and watched Annie Hall last night even though my brain was telling me that I should really be hanging the washing on the line and putting the dishes I used to make my very healthy pasta, sauce and loads-of-cheese dinner in the dishwasher. In the end I didn't do any of it until the morning (admittedly partly because I fell into a cheese-induced coma on the sofa). Well, la-di-da.

3. Put your phone down 
Managing to get 1 and 2 nailed will feel like a major achievement and what do we do when we achieve something these days? We put it on social media. But in this instance we must refrain. If you're waiting to see how many of your chums 'like' the fact that you're kicking back with a novel and a tube of Pringles, how are you going to concentrate on the plot? And what if they don't like it? Or you see that everybody on there is actually out drinking mojitos and dancing to (ENTER NAME OF POPULAR MUSIC I HAVEN'T HEARD OF) and you just end up feeling bad about yourself? That won't be very relaxing, will it? Now I come to think of it, point 3 should really just be 'Delete Facebook' and I'm sure we'd all feel a lot better.

4. Don't wait until you start crying to admit that you need to chill the hell out
Here's a useful fact to remember: you don't have to be on holiday to relax. Unfortunately I only realised this when I became so overwhelmed by my self-imposed 10-item domestic task list that I cried. My husband put me on a chair in the garden with a book and a glass of water and told me not to come back in until I had finished both. It shouldn't have to come to this (also the book was The Fault In Our Stars. If you've read it, you'll know that it only made me cry more but it's the thought that counts) - it's important to notice that you need to relax before you become a blubbering wreck.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take my own advice, turn off my computer and pop on another film. Chomping through a Fruit and Nut whilst I do so does technically class as multitasking but I think we can all agree to let this one slide.