Joyous epiphanies and why l now hate lizards

My summer has been a long, busy and lots of fun. I packed in everything I possibly could; I did multiple festivals, had a lovely trip to Paris and managed to catch up with/visit lots of friends and family. However I also ended the summer with no money, an achy back from so much sleeping in tents, and due to the high level of cider and ice cream consumption that took place, I now resemble a dumpling – particularly facially – and this is far from ideal. You win some and you lose some, and I just wish I’d won less flab and lost less money, but at least I had wonderful time doing it.

I discovered and learnt many things this summer, some of them the hard way and some were joyful epiphanies.

Firstly I have learnt that I take on too much and I say yes to almost everything – even if I really don’t want to. YES, I’ll come for coffee and patiently listen to you whine about how unfair it is that you’ve gotten fat and can’t wear crop tops and tiny vagina-shorts anymore (very few people can), even though I have 5 billion things I need to do today. YES, you can borrow £30, even though I don’t really have it to spare and I know you’re only going to spend it on crisps and fags. Yes I’ll come clubbing on a Tuesday with your weird friends from Swindon because it’s your birthday and YES I’d love to buy you a birthday flaming Sambuca even though it costs approximately £47. And of coooourse I’ll hang your washing up for you as you’ve got a really really important meeting you’re late for at the PUB. No, there is no need to for me to say yes when I really don’t want to, and from now on I am going to try to just say no if I want to say no. I like to think I have boundless energy and time, but there were many moments this summer amongst all the raucous fun when I longed for some quiet time. All I really want is to have a whole night free to myself paint my nails and listen to my 101 R’n’B Hits CD and eat multiple Kinder Buenos. I will make this happen.

Secondly I am finding this summer that a lot of people mistake me for a child. Automatic child fares buses and trains, extra assistance when using the self-service till in supermarkets and kindly motherly types offering help and asking if I’m lost whenever I wait anywhere outside for more than 5 minutes. I know I am somewhat vertically challenged but I do resent having my bag packed for me in Tesco by someone who calls me ‘sweetie’. My solution to this is that I need to adopt an air of adult confidence and fierce capability so this mistake is not repeated. Worst comes to worst I will start unashamedly wearing sensible Clarkes walking sandals, only shop at Waitrose and say things like ‘GOD, I DO LOVE ALAN TITCHMARSH’ loudly. (If you don’t know who he is, Google him ASAP. Gardeners’ World is something else.)

The worst incident out of a series of many this summer happened whilst I was at Green Man in August. One of the evenings we all painted our faces as tigers, and later that night we were all sitting on a grassy slope, ciders firmly in hand, watching Beirut perform (just need to say, they were AMAZING). Suddenly, some woman sitting next to us squawked: “LOOK AT YOU, YOU’RE ALL PAINTED LIKE TIGERS!” Once we’d congratulated her on stating the fucking obvious, and had exchanged the usual strangers-who-accost-you-at-festival niceties and had a bit of a chat, she narrowed her eyes and pointed at me and yelled: “AH LOOK DOWN THERE, YOU’VE PAINTED THE LITTLE GIRL AS A TIGER TOO! A BABY TIGER!” I am just going to say at this point that she was lucky I was not in fact a ‘baby tiger’ as I would have gone and sunk my tigerish-claws into her right there and then. Also, was she blind? Do children drink cider? However, as I saw red and glowered from under my stripes, the rest of my ‘pride of tigers’ fell about laughing, much to the joy of Mrs Squawky. My friends did not let me forget this incident for the remainder of the weekend, with much head patting and ‘witty banter’ about how I am the size of a child. I vowed never to dress as a tiger again.

Starting my second year of university has helped with my adopting this air of adult confidence and fierce capability, as I so often feel old and wise around the recent onslaught of freshers. The freshers poured into Bath with a seeming aggression, and after a lovely summer of milling around sunny café courtyards and cosy evenings in the pubs (with somewhere to sit), it now feels that everywhere I go there are eighteen-year-olds throwing up into the gutter, getting off against Biffa bins and being indecisive about how many thousands of tequila slammers they are going to purchase at the bar, and in doing so causing endless delays for my modest purchase of a simple gin and tonic. I am aware that it was only a year ago that I too was a fresher, but I don’t recall myself being quite so thoughtless and annoying. When I was out last weekend, there was one very young looking ‘lad’ who was wandering round the dance floor throwing up, seemingly oblivious to the fact he was doing so, and then continuing to drink his pint in between voms. I didn’t know whether to slap him for being such an utter disaster, or to ask him for his mother’s phone number so I could call her and tell her she needed come and save him! Luckily a bouncer saw what was happening and threw him out before I could intervene.

However, being a fresher isn’t always easy and I can still sympathise. I remember being at a silent disco during fresher’s week, supposedly ‘partying’ with hundreds of people I didn’t know, all of us listening to different music, all doing different dancing depending on what music, unable to chat due to the headphones, and yet all desperately trying to find common ground on which to make friends. Whoever thought a silent disco on a fresher’s week was a good idea was a bloody idiot. Although I do miss the carelessness that comes with the first year of uni – your work doesn’t actually go towards your final degree, so, as long as you don’t entirely fail, daily pub trips instead of daily essay writing seems the only legitimate and reasonable thing to do. And we did exactly that. I am only 2 weeks in to my second year, but I already feel the pressure and workload mounting. All those chilled evenings idly wandering from pub to pub to club, or simply staying in bed and watching an entire TV series in one sitting with a cuppa and biscuits, are speedily fading into the distance.

My plan this week was to get my shit together and organise my life as much as I could. I decided to get loads of work done, get my bedroom ship-shape, get an eye-test, get my stationary and notebooks organised, buy my reading list for all my modules, buy tickets for upcoming literary events in Bath and soak in some culture, join the gym, join the yoga society at uni (inner peace and happiness here I come) and generally to eat better and drink less. So far my week has consisted of doing a bit of work, watching a lot of Desperate Housewives, getting furious as I can’t find any of my notebooks or any pens that work, eating a lot of kale and soon getting very tired of eating kale, and sorting out my clothes up and realising that the clothes to bedroom storage space ratio is dangerously unbalanced. I am living in a sea of t-shirts and leggings and I genuinely fear drowning. I also got very very drunk, bought cheesy chips, slept in all my clothes and texted my ex saying ‘You’re very very annoying’ followed by ‘I miss you’. Terrible terrible decisions over-all were made. I also was so hungover after my night out that the following morning I managed to put my knickers on so that the left leg hole was round my hips, and my right leg through the middle bit. That makes for an uncomfortable day I assure you, especially when you have no idea why your fave pants suddenly are the least fave thing you’ve ever worn.

However, despite my week not turning out quite as I hoped, I did go to yoga class, which was more enjoyable and relaxing that I thought it would be. It was ‘hot yoga’, which essentially is yoga in a heavily heated room, which makes you sweat more and therefore detox more. I liked the sauna feel it had and it definitely relaxed my muscles, but it also lessened my concentration and I completely fell over whilst trying to do ‘the lizard’ pose. My rather loud fall, which incidentally was forehead first, was followed by a deafening silence as all the other women were quietly poised with their toes up their noses and their ankles wrapped around their ears, eyebrows raised. It was both embarrassing and painful for me. And I did not feel even a tiny bit zen. Who even wants to look like a sweaty lizard anyway I say.

As for the gym, I joined that too, and following my excruciating ‘induction’ I have been a few times since despite the trauma I endured. When I arrived at the gym for my induction, the jolly instructor lady at the desk told me to take a seat and wait a moment. I breathed a sigh of relief, as I know my fitness levels are similar to that of a very tired slug, and I didn’t want some pumped-gym bunny judging me as I struggled to use the new fangled machines. This lady seemed nice, and she might understand my pain. Then in walked 6’3” pumped-up gym bunny extraordinaire, complete with a white vest, excess hair gel and tanned guns of steel. He introduced himself enthusiastically as Marvin (of course he was called Marvin, the vest-wearing idiot), and I followed him up the stairs to the gym with a sense of impeding doom. Once I finally reached the top of the stairs (Marvin had bounded up two at a time and kindly waited for me at the top, what a gent), we went into the gym and began the induction.

As luck would have it, Marvin first asked me to do some press-ups, followed by some sit-ups. This was what he called ‘a warm up’, which is otherwise known as ‘let’s see how little upper body-strength you have’ followed by ‘how flabby is your tummy, really’. After not managing to do a press up properly, Marvin said that we would work on that but should leave it for now as I look like I might hurt myself. I had turned an alarming shade of letter-box red, partly from effort and partly from embarrassment at banging my face on the floor mid press-up. Ideal. He took pity on me and decided we’d do squats with weights instead, however he suggested I did them side-on in the mirror, so I could see how low I was squatting. After the initial horror at having to squat in front of a full wall-sized mirror, I found I was quite successful at squats due to the misguided amount of time I’ve spent at Bump n Grind 90s RnB night dancing to ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’. I also have the fortune of not having a bum that resembles a bin bag of baked beans when I wear leggings, however I wish to maintain this and so I’ve decided squats are the way forward in life (this was one of my few joyful epiphanies). The rest of my body is a whole different matter however, but I won’t go into that now. We then continued to try out the rest of the machines – cross-trainer, rowing machine, abs blaster – and I managed to do each of them without too much catastrophic redness and sweating. We then got to the pull-down machine, where you have to pull the bar down in front of your chest from above whilst sitting with your knees tucked under a padded bar to keep you in place. This is harder than it perhaps sounds, and I got on feeling over-confident after acing the rowing machine (I say acing – I didn’t die, fall off, or get my hands trapped under the slidy seat). Whilst Marvin was chatting to a fellow gym-goer about the lack of skipping-ropes available (this person needed to go away and shut up, you don’t need skipping ropes in a gym), I got on and pulled the bar down quickly and with unwarranted confidence, soon realising there was no way I hold this weight, and let go. The bar promptly smacked me in the nose as it zipped back up to the top with a loud clang. Marvin ran over with a look of frustration and despair whilst my eyes watered, cursing myself for not taking note of the large burly man who had just removed him self from said machine without changing the weights. That concluded my ‘induction’, and in the end I didn’t dislike Marvin and his vest so much, I felt more of an apologetic gratitude for his immense patience with me. Nonetheless, I have been back to gym a few times since and actually enjoyed it (joyous epiphany), but I’ve stayed well clear of the pull-down machine and have not yet attempted a push-up.

I am going to try to post more frequently on here as the gap has been a bit long since my last post (almost 5 months!), and I’ve missed having a place to rant and share my daily struggles on. However if you don’t hear from me soon its because I’ve paralysed myself trying to do ‘the lizard’, or I’ve knocked myself out at the gym, and in that case please send help and/or flowers to my home address.