As a joke, it’s not very funny, right? It’s even less funny when it’s real life.Carley
In my last post, I suggested that there might be more than one reason that I’ve been reluctant to blog recently. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a while, and more than that, something which has felt like an unbreachable wall between myself and some of the people that I’d normally go to with my concerns. I know that quite often, confronting fear is the only way to combat it’s power, and so I’m nervously tapping these words into a screen.Carley
Back in 2009-ish, when I was a student at St Andrews, I was elected into a Position of Responsibility – note the capitals! I joined the Societies Committee of the Students’ Association – otherwise known as ‘the union’. The committee had to look after all 140-odd societies affiliated to the Students’ Association – giving out grants and loans, affiliating new societies, making sure everyone was behaving themselves. However, I was also elected onto the SSC – the Student Services Committee – and that’s where I first heard about the plans for the Union’s redevelopment.Carley
A couple of weekends ago, I spent a Sunday afternoon with one of my best friends. I’m lucky that my move back to St Andrews has been cushioned by a few very good friends, who have dragged me out to have lunch or drinks or just to force me to leave my office each evening. This particular friend is someone I trust massively and am very close to, and we had a lovely afternoon wandering around in the afternoon sunshine and eating ice cream.Carley
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Stacey and I broke up in December. A while after this, once things had settled down and I had moved into a new flat in St Andrews, a few friends of mine started trying to gently encourage me to start dating again. At the time, I didn’t think it was a bad idea, per se. Here I was, back in a small town where I didn’t know all that many people of my own age, and where I could completely reinvent myself. Cut all my hair off! Change my name! Or at least, go out and meet some people.
Cutting out the long boring bit of this story, I ended up at a point where I’d been given the phone number of a girl who was my age, cute and funny and smart. It sounded like we had a fair few things in common, and I was encouraged to contact her. I usually really respect the opinions of my friends, and whilst part of me did think it was a bit quick, a little too soon since Stacey and I had broken up, I didn’t know whether I was just being too sensitive. So I took the plunge and sent her a message. For the next few days, we text back and forth, chatting about each of our days, our university experiences, our families. It was nice. I wasn’t immediately struck with a longing to go out and marry her, but it was nice to see my phone light up and talk to someone who didn’t know me at all.
Which was all well and good, until she asked if I wanted to meet up with her. Completely uncharacteristically, I panicked. Turned my phone off, pretended I hadn’t got the message, tried to ignore it. I spent a whole lunchtime going round and round in circles with one of my closest friends; him trying to work out what it was that I was worried about, me trying to express that it all just felt like too much of a demand on me. Later, another friend laughed at that comment –
“too much? if you think that going for coffee with someone is too much, how are you ever going to date anyone ever again?”
- and that was part of what tipped the see-saw from ‘decline’ to ‘agree’. When someone put it like that, it seemed silly. What idiot starts chatting to a girl like that and then can’t pull themselves together enough to go and meet her for a cup of coffee?
Well me, apparently.
I text her back (more than a little delayed), agreeing to meet up for a drink rather than coffee one evening. All the way there, I studiously ignored the fact that I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to go. I wasn’t nervous – on paper, the idea of meeting someone new for a drink was perfectly reasonable, and I went through the motions perfectly. Shower. Choose an outfit. Work out how long it’s going to take to get there. Take cash out. Check teeth. Remember keys. Leave house. But it didn’t really feel like it was happening to me, it felt like this story that I was telling someone; That Time That Carley Went On A Date.
And I got there, and meet up with her and she was great, chatty and personable and interesting. We had common interests, told related stories, reminisced about university craziness and shared experiences and our favourite types of gin. The whole time, I felt detached. I don’t think it was noticeable. It certainly wasn’t awkward, but a voice in my head wouldn’t stop distracting me with a multitude of put-downs. What are you even doing here? Do you really think that this is a good idea? Anyone can see that you’re just desperately trying to fill this hole in your life with anything or anyone available. But by that point, I was there. It was too late to back out, and besides, I was having a good time, right? Stupid voice in my head aside? And you know what, it was fine. A couple of hours passed before I said I should probably head – work in the morning, better be well behaved etc – and once I left, I text her a message of thanks; non-committal, I had a nice time, thanks.
But the whole what the hell am I doing cycle started all over again a few days later, when she text me and asked if I wanted to go for dinner.
You’ll be able to read more about my cringe-worthy dating adventures whenever I’ve recovered enough to detail them; you can find them tagged ‘The Single Chronicles‘.Carley
One of my big changes this year has been how I’ve moved from Edinburgh back to St Andrews. Whilst it’s been a mostly smooth transition, there are a few things I’d forgotten about living in this little town, like how students like to shop in Tesco at 10pm. Or how there are only about five clothing shops in these three streets. Or the fact that being nestled on the east coast of Scotland means that four seasons in one day really does happen. A lot.
Twice in the last week I’ve managed to get dressed for work based on the weather outside, only to find that by the time I’m walking home in the afternoon my outfit is completely impractical. The days I wear wellies and gloves, the afternoon ends up being sunny and I would swear that spring is just around the corner. Other days I choose a cute dress and ballet pumps and get soaked by the time I leave the office. So now that payday is just around the corner, I’ve been creating a wishlist of things to buy (from places in St Andrews) that will take me from winter to spring in Scotland. (Apparently, I also have a thing for the nautical theme which is pretty big this spring – who knew?)
One of the most difficult things to find are shoes – St Andrews fashion seems to dictate that white Converse are de rigeur year round, but I have no desire to get cold, wet feet every time it rains just a little. I love these black boots from New Look because they’ll work right through to the summer, but I’m also a big fan of wellies. I already have a pair of black Hunters, but on dull days I get the feelings that these short and bright wellies from Joules might bring a smile to my face.
I’ve fallen a little bit in love with this lightweight, showerproof quilted jacket from joules. Before now, I’ve avoided quilted jackets because so many people in St Andrews wear them, but the details on this one are so cute. The little fox button for one, the red piping on the inside, the suede patch on one shoulder – definitely a want.
One of my spring wardrobe staples are leggings – they’re perfect under dresses (like the black one below) for work but also great for lazy Sundays, walking along the beach. I often find leggings are overpriced but I like these paisley print leggings for under an oversized black jumper, and the plain black ones for workwear.
Continuing on with the nautical theme, these bamboo socks are brilliant. Under boots and wellies they’d be lovely and warm, but even with brogues or flats, they’re cute enough to see poking out from the bottom of smart work trousers. They’re cheap, too!
I’m a big fan of this black and pink jumper. Right now, I’d put a white shirt underneath and wear it to the office, and come the warmer days I’d totally wear with the paisley leggings, above. I really love the hearts on the sleeves – something very poetic about them!
Now that I’m working in an office which errs on the smart side of smart casual, shirts have become favourites of mine again. I have a beautiful crisp white one from Hollister, and I think this smart blue shirt from Joules would be a great addition to my wardrobe. I love the styling on this photo too!
This square-collared nautical style shirt is another favourite too!
Finally, this boxy black dress is the kind of thing that I’d completely ignore if I saw it in a store, but completely fell in love with online. It’s perfect for work, but the darts under the bust make it interesting and the length means that it could be worn out after work. Especially with the black boots, above!
(Looking back at this list, I’ve realised that I love the entire new collection from Joules – it’s perfect for the blustery St Andrews weather, which is all about layers and warm fabrics and muted colours. Can payday be now, please?)Carley
Dear Ellen Page
Being single this Valentine’s Day, I didn’t hope for much. A good day at work. Reheated leftovers for dinner. A phone call with my mum. I certainly didn’t expect to go to bed and wake up this morning to the brave, powerful news that at the HRC Time to Thrive conference, you would make a speech where you were visibly anxious, visibly moved, and where you would come out.
And your coming out was so very moving and I am so happy for you. For knowing that mental stability and happiness lie in being true to yourself. But I am also so thankful for the rest of your speech, because I believe that so much of what you said resonates with any individual who has been in the closet.
I know there are people in this room who go to school every day and get treated like shit for no reason. Or you go home and you feel like you can’t tell your parents the whole truth about yourself. Beyond putting yourself in one box or another, you worry about the future. About college or work or even your physical safety. Trying to create that mental picture of your life—of what on earth is going to happen to you—can crush you a little bit every day. It is toxic and painful and deeply unfair.
A transcript of the entire video can be found here.
What you said made sense. It wasn’t Earth shattering or new, listening to you speak was like realising all over again that we are all working towards the same thing here; a world where people are not discriminated against because of who they love. A world where nobody blinks when you say ‘my wife and I’ or ‘my boyfriend said’. A world where kids do not want to kill themselves because just the thought of being ‘other’ makes life not worth living.
I’m inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here for the same reason. You’re here because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives.
So thank you, Ellen Page. I applaud you on your coming out personally, but I thank you for publicly stating that you are standing beside people like me in this fight for equality, for equal rights, for acceptance. I could not image a better new sister-in-arms.Carley
I can remember exactly when I first fell in love with the sweet, quirky music of Taylor Swift. I found out about the young American singer-songwriter the same way I found out about Twilight – on Facebook. To be specific, on the Facebook bumper sticker app. For a while, my best friend and I fell in love with adding little quotes and pretty pictures to our profiles, and I kept seeing a proliferation of stickers which read like lyrics but which I’d never heard before. By the end of 2007, I was tearing my way through Stephanie Meyer’s novels and playing TSwift’s Love Story on repeat. Every time a new album came out, I’d stick it on my MP3 player and learn the words off by heart – Fearless and Forever and Always and Better Than Revenge and so many songs that made sense, somehow. They were catchy and they spoke to me and they had that country edge which I’ve always enjoyed. And when I first met Stacey, she rolled her eyes at my embarrassing, Radio 1 musical taste. But when Red came out, Stacey finally caved, and she started listening to the album too.
I spent months scouring the internet for any hint that TSwift might be bringing the Red tour to the UK. After 50+ dates in the US, and then Australia, and Asia, and Europe – finally, she came to London last week. Stacey and I had tickets – and it was the most amazing spectacle I’d ever seen. I’d never been to The O2 before, but we had seats directly opposite the stage, pretty much as high up as we could get. It was a long way back from the stage – but the view was just amazing, and the sound quality was superb too. As for the gig – I find myself smiling every time I think about it. Stace and I had already looked up the set list, but the whole experience was completely different to what I was expecting! From the opening strains of State of Grace (this is a state of grace, this is the worthwhile fight. love is a ruthless game, unless you play it good and right) through to the banjo-led twang of Mean (someday I’ll be living in a big ol’ city, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean) and the heartbreak of Red (Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street) all of my favourite songs were just that much better live. But the songs that had me choked up, the ones that really got through to me, were ones that I never expected.
Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much, and maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up.
Like how You Belong With Me had been given a 50’s feel with the backing singers and cute dresses and choreography. Or how I’d never really heard the lyrics to Holy Ground, despite listening to the song over and over again. And how Taylor is just as friendly, as coy, as playful as everything online makes her seem. More than once, I felt myself welling up, overwhelmed but how many people were all singing along to these songs that are about love and loss and heartbreak and moving on – it felt very apt, somehow, and slightly painful but also incredibly right.
You had it figured out since you were in school. Everybody loves pretty, everybody loves cool.
And the production was just unreal. From the videos which backlit the stage – including a carousel which looked so real I spent a good 30 seconds wondering if it actually was a set – to flying stages, moving walkways and some amazing dancers and musicians. Add on top of that the fact that Taylor Swift’s special guest was Emeli Sande – who I absolutely loved and sung Next To Me – and it was pretty much one of the most perfect gigs I have ever been too.
We blocked the noise with the sound of ‘I need you’, and for the first time I had something to lose.
We actually went on the penultimate night of the Red tour – the t-shirt that Stace bought confirmed that Monday was the last but one night of 79 gigs. That’s crazy – Taylor, her band and crew performed that show 79 times, never the same show though, because each night had a different special guest. 79 times, 79 crowds, Lord knows how many rehearsals and practise sessions and sound checks. But what a show, what an experience. I wish I could go and see it all over again. Hopefully Taylor’s now going to have a break from performing and will maybe start writing again – as much as I love Red, and I do – I cannot wait to hear what she does next. And if she does decide to come back to the UK to perform again, I will definitely be returning to watch her perform.