Posted in dating, london, relationships

Seventeen Thoughts That Run Through Your (or MY) Head on A First Date

I have been called a serial first dater so many times. Dating for me is like one of those things that I need to tick off on my yearly to do list, like: travel ✔️try a new workout ✔️lose a few kilos ✔️ go on a date ✔️✔️

As I always explain when people ask me why I’m single, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m somehow less just because I’m not one half of a couple. I do my own thing and live my life the way I want it to, not as society expects me to. But every now and again I do feel like it would be nice to have someone to share these experiences with and so commences my annual dating bonanza, a series of first dates that never really lead anywhere.

I think bad dates are a universal experience. I certainly have my share of stories to tell but apart from the initial apprehension, I do enjoy meeting and getting to know someone. Here are some of the thoughts that inevitably run through my head on a first date:

  1. Oh God, what am I going to wear?
  2. Hair up or hair down? Hair up makes me look more chic but hair down hides the fact that my face is as big as the moon. What to do, what to do?
  3. Am I wearing too much perfume?
  4. God, let this case finish early so I can get out of the hospital with enough time to freshen up.
  5. Why why why did I schedule a date on a work night?!
  6. Damn, I should have taken the tube instead of the bus.
  7. Please Lord, let him look better than he does in the photos.
  8. Oh, and please don’t let him be a psycho.
  9. Okay, he’s attractive enough. I can work with this.
  10. Hmm, has a sense of humour. Great.
  11. Would it look bad if I get another glass of wine?
  12. Why do first dates in this country mean just drinks? I’m really hungry and could do with some food.
  13. Pace yourself, anj. You know you have to drink water in between liquor so that you don’t get too drunk.
  14. This date is going better than I thought it would.
  15. Yes, there is definite second date potential here.
  16. Ah, the goodnight kiss.

And depending on how well number 16 went….
17. Please let him text me. I really like this guy.
Hahahahahahaha

I don’t know why I constantly find myself on a first date situation. It would be nice to try a long-term thing for a change but I’ve come to accept that if its not in the cards for me, I’m gonna have to learn to deal with it. The one thing I don’t want is to feel pressured to settle just because society dictates that women have to be married at a certain age. Don’t ever settle, people. The kind of love we’re all looking for is worth the effort, the wait and the endless first dates.

Posted in Books, relationships, Reviews, romance

In Death: An Ode to JD Robb

There is something to be said about an author who’s got enough mileage to keep a series – for the most part – fresh and interesting 44 books in, with number 45 having just been released this week.

JD Robb, who first gained fame as a romance author under the pen name of Nora Roberts, has earned the title of being one of the most prolific writers in the business. She still publishes under both pseudonyms and she’s able to churn out at least two books a year. While her works as Nora have declined in quality in my own personal opinion, the In Death series under JD Robb feels a little bit like the energiser bunny: its just going to keep on going until her fingers get too arthritic to type on a keyboard.

I read the first book in the series a little over a year ago when I was looking for a good whodunit crime novel. I picked up Origin in Death based on the recommendation of one of my Goodreads friends who has a reputation for always giving honest reviews. I was quite surprised that she praised this one so highly as she’s usually into alternate universes, post-apocalyptic settings and dystopia. In comparison, this “futuristic” series seemed a little bit tame for her taste. Despite the fact that its set about 60 years in the future in a still-recognisable but crazier version of New York City, and despite the fact that there are crazy gadgets and new inventions to help solve crime, at the heart of it this is a procedural crime novel with Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the NYPD at its centre.

Eve and Roarke

Eve is an enigma even to herself. She’s very methodical and all about the job. She cares and stands for her victims and seems to take any crime in her city personally, which is what makes her so good. You can tell she’s been through something nightmarish in her past because she’s so closed off to other people and have very little, if any, time for a personal life. She is the job and the job is what makes her. While working a case, she meets the equally enigmatic and ultra-charming billionaire Roarke (no last name just like Madonna), who was initially one of the suspects in the case she was working on but who she later develops a romantic relationship with.

The mysteries in each book are interesting in and of themselves; I would probably have followed the series for that reason alone. But the backstory and the character development, as well as seeing how a relationship between two people with such a complicated and traumatic past developed into a strong partnership, is what makes the series special. Seeing how Eve Dallas, respected lieutenant with a reputation for solving crimes, navigates the minefield of marriage and is thoroughly discombobulated by her role as a wife provided a comedic fodder for all the other heavy stuff going on in the books. It was also amazing to see how she developed close relationships with other people and how she somehow allowed them in to her world as a result of opening herself up to Roarke. So much so that she finds herself pleasantly surprised that she’s managed to create a family after years and years of being alone.

The Supporting Cast

The supporting characters in the story also enrich the experience of reading the books. We’re introduced to Delia Peabody, Detective McNab, the other detectives at Cop Central, Chief Morris, Captain Feeney, the chief of police, Summerset the butler, Mavis Freestone, even Galahad the cat – they all matter. JD Robb somehow wrote the series in such a way that she gradually made the readers care for each and every one of them one book at a time. But the lynchpin of the books is really Eve. Its such a joy to see her journey as a character. Which isn’t to say that she can’t be annoying. I sometimes get so annoyed by how she sees things in black and white, which is probably why Roarke is perfect for her because he is all about the shades of grey in between.

44 books in the series!

I read all 37 books in this series one after the other. I’m quite happy that I didn’t know just how many books there were when I started because it might have put me off starting. As it is, I’m sure I made Amazon Kindle really happy when I bought all the published books back then in a bundle, it probably cost me a little over 200 quid but its money well spent. Not all the books were great and there were some that I was tempted not to finish because I was bored, but then those books would surprise me with a scene between Eve and Roarke that would just move their relationship forward and it would make up for an otherwise mediocre story. That’s how JD Robb hooks you: if the story is a dud, the character development makes up for it. If there’s nothing new to explore in terms of the main characters, you sink your claws into a good old-fashioned crime mystery. Its the perfect one-two punch.

Unfortunately, none of the books can be read as a standalone. I mean, when you start reading the first three or four you’d just want to carry on anyway. And okay, you can probably pick one book at random and still enjoy a good mystery but the payoff really is in knowing the characters and the history of how they all came to be what they are to each other. Some books are all about the payoff, with returning characters from previous books or a previous issue that was brought up in one of the previous books but was never fully explored. So I wouldn’t recommend not reading them in order. I would recommend borrowing them from someone who’s got the full collection rather than buying them like I did. There are some highlights in the series and you can go visit my page for my top ten favourite In Death books to check out my personal favourites.

All in all, reading books from this series always feels like visiting an old friend. Its always great to escape into Eve and Roarke’s world for a while and to pray that in these troubled times we live in where the world is literally going to hell in a hand basket, there would be someone like her in our police force who will stand for the good people of London the way Eve Dallas does for New York.

More power to JD Robb and may the books keep coming!

 

Posted in LGBT, Lifestyle, relationships

The Things You Find Yourself Doing When You’re Under The Weather

Dear Readers,

I apologise for being a little remiss on my blogging this past week as I have been battling the flu since last weekend. There were times when I was literally up all night coughing away and trying to find a comfortable position that best accommodates breathing. It sucked not being able to go out to enjoy the last remaining days of good weather but I somehow found ways to distract myself while I was stuck at home. I indulged my inner homebody and somehow managed to have a good time even while I was sick. That’s me, finding the silver lining in even the dreariest of situations.

So, what have I been up to this past week apart from applying liberal amounts of Vicks Vaporub. I’m glad you asked because I’m in the mood to tell you. This won’t be the most coherent of blogs. I’m going to have an existential ramble about things that have been weighing on my mind so be warned.

Netflix

Ah, good old Netflix. Where would we be without this streaming behemoth? For the discounted value of 9.99 a month, you’ll have hundreds of movies and tv series at the tip of your fingers. I’ve been looking for a good series to watch now that Game of Thrones has dropped the bomb that it won’t be showing the 8th season until 2019 (argh). Failing that, I’d settle for some good reruns.

So what to watch on Netflix? My sister was watching The Defenders one night and I tried that but only lasted an episode. I’ve never really been a fan of superheroes apart from the ones from the Marvel Universe. So I somehow found myself watching a show called Shadow Hunters and I got hooked.

This series is based on The Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare, the first three books of which I read a year ago. Its not groundbreakingly original and a few of my Goodreads friends have slammed the author for being a hack and capitalising on current YA trends to make cash and even plagiarising a few storylines. I guess I can see where they’re coming from but, come on, I don’t think she should be singled out when most of these YA fantasy novels feature the irritating commonalities of a love triangle or the perfect heroine whom everyone around her feels the need to protect, or the hero on a journey to self-discovery who somehow finds himself having special powers that make him different even among people who are different. These formulaic plot lines can be found in The Twilight Series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent Series. If Cassandra Clare was able to make a name for herself by using the same formula, guys, just live and let live. No one’s forcing you to read the books.

Anyway, I quite liked the books and I liked the series even more. I like that an LGBT couple is one of the main focus of the storylines, its further proof of how far we’ve come as a society. The so-called ‘Malec’ tandem is one my favourite parts of the show and it didn’t even occur to me be weirded out by the fact that this was a romance between a guy and another guy. That wedding scene gave me the feels. Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario do such a great job handling these characters. It doesn’t hurt that Matt is outrageously good-looking. Its hard to appreciate the scene below without context  and without knowing the backstory but I think its still one of the best scenes of the series.

Also? Props on the background song. I’ve been playing ‘War of Hearts’ by Ruelle on repeat this past week because of this.

Another show that’s awesome but has sadly been cancelled is Sense8. Its about 8 people who are telepathically linked to each other and can read each other’s thoughts and feel each other’s emotions and share in each other’s experiences. I read somewhere that this series is really groundbreaking because of its message of equality. I feel like this is a recurring theme right now in most movies and tv series, the message that love is  love regardless of gender, sexuality, age, race or background. I really really like this show, especially during light-hearted moments like the one below:

I’ve forgotten how good this song is, and surprisingly relevant. Its also an awesome song to sing along to when you’re feeling frustrated with life, and I have to say I found myself singing this song a lot this past week.

Figuring Out The Future

I’m a creature of habit and I struggle with change. Paradoxically though, I also hate being stuck. I have to feel like I’m driving towards something in order to feel satisfied. I know this is a cliche but the journey really is the destination in my case. I like having a goal in sight and I enjoy working towards that goal. Lately it seems like I’m not setting any goals for myself and I’m just coasting along, letting life happen to me instead of taking the bull by its horns and making things happen.

It doesn’t help that people close to me who I really care about have been moving on to new things and I can’t help but feel like I’m being left behind. I’m really happy for them but I hate being the person who stays. I think I would rather be the person who leaves. I feel like I’ve lost an entire support system that I didn’t even know I need. I know they’ll always be my friends and we’ll still see each other and catch up. I believe in the kind of friendship that I have with these people and its the kind that will withstand distances and busy schedules. Still, I will miss being able to have that shared experience and having them get exactly what I’m going through. I guess it all boils down to the fact that there have been far too many goodbyes in my life this year.

I think about moving on sometimes, so I made a list of the good things I’ve got going for me to find reasons to stay. There’s not a lot but the few that made it to the list are major ones. I still enjoy what I do, and I like my team. I feel appreciated by most of the people I work with and I no longer give a damn about the people who don’t appreciate me. I still feel like I’m making a difference, and that’s really important to me. Professionally speaking, its never been just about the money for me. I’ve turned down high-paying jobs before because I feel like I wouldn’t make a difference in that organisation. I need to know that what I do matters. I don’t want to be just another nameless employee. I guess that more than ever is why I stay where I am. I feel valued, and my contribution to the department and the organisation has always been acknowledged by the people who matter. I guess I should remember that the next time I feel the urge to look for greener pastures. I’m really really lucky to be where I am and to do what I do.

Personal Woes

My personal life has ben stagnant for the last year or so. I’m one of those people who are just really unlucky when it comes to dating. Its a combination of not being able to meet the right people and my lack of belief in the whole online dating system. I know a lot of people have had success with it and I have now taken to banning myself from Facebook because every time I look at relationship photos of people who I know met their partners on online dating, I think to myself, why the hell can’t I just do what they do?

It just feels so wrong. And believe me, I’ve had ample time to think about this this past week while I was coughing away in bed. I do not want my relationship narrative to include swiping right on Tinder. Its just really frustrating to think about the fact that London has the highest number of single people in the world and I struggle to meet even one. And the ones I do meet are just not my type.

I’ve been accused of being picky before. I prefer to think of it as having standards. I would really like to have a stable relationship. At this point, I am so sick of the dating game. The endless miscommunication, the not-knowing, the uncertainty, the construing of signals and analysing little things down to the minute details – its fun for a while but sometimes you just really want to start building a life with someone.

I found the answer in church of all places. Now my faith in religion is not at its strongest, I think I’ve lost my way a little bit there. But I go to church partly out of obligation to my mother but also because I can’t force myself to relinquish my belief in a higher power. So I was sitting in church last Sunday and the priest was talking about love. He said that love isn’t what the movies make it out to be, but rather its a decision. That really stuck with me. Maybe its time to make the decision that I want to settle down with someone and all my actions should align with that decision. Its really given me something to think about.

I’m sorry this blog has been a bit of a ramble. I usually post to entertain but this one is really more like a catharsis for me. My next posts will be back to their normal length, I promise.

Its good to be back.

Posted in Books, relationships, Reviews, Uncategorized, Women's literature

Book Review: Where’d You Go Bernadette? – Maria Semple

Its funny. 

We never really think of our parents as being people. To us, they’re Mum and Dad: the people who know all the answers, who can make the scary stuff go away, who will always be there to bandage every hurt and dress every wound. Growing up, we see them as these superhuman creatures that we can always count on to catch us when we fall. That’s how I saw my parents anyway.

Until I moved away from home and embarked on my own “adulting” journey, it never occured to me to think of my parents as two people who are probably just as scared as I am about the responsibilities that come with being an adult. No one really gives you a set of instructions for these things; there’s no set objectives like, year one month one: set up a bank account: month two, make sure you have health insurance. You kind of figure it out as you go along. You fake it and hope to God you make it (I imagine parenthood would be the same but magnified because you’re actually responsible for another person).

So why am I waxing lyrical about mum and dad? Well, that’s kind of the key theme of ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’. Bernadette Fox is many things to different people: an architectural legend,a brilliant but troubled wife, an uncooperative neighbor and the menace of the local parent-teacher association. But to her daughter Bee, she’s really just Mum. Until Bernadette disappears and Bee has to put together the pieces of her mum’s life to really see the dynamic, complex woman beneath the Mommy mask.

This book is told primarily through letters sent to and from Bernadette and letters about Bernadette. These letters were collected by Bee to help her in search for her mum. I always find this epistolary style quite clever. Its hard to give a full picture of a story through letters and emails but I think if done well, it really works. I actually think this novel loses a lot of steam once we got to the more linear kind of narration (from Bee’s point of view).

The blurb is a little bit misleading because I thought the journey to ‘finding’ Bernadette would involve a lot more, well, travelling. Especially to places that relate to her past. I thought the novel would explore her past more because there was a big build up about this ‘terrible thing’ that happened to her which had such a huge impact on her life. But the actual search for Bernadette seemed a bit anti-climactic. It was pretty obvious where she went and I never really understood why she went there, why she stayed and if anything was resolved at the end of the book.

I’m not sure if we readers are meant to sympathise (and like) the titular character. She seemed a mess to me and while I can see why that is, I think I agree with her husband when he said that we shouldn’t let past failures keep us from trying again. Its how you pick yourself up after a fall that matters after all. While this book is intended to be a satire or a dark comedy, I think Bernadette is a really tragic figure in that she never really realises all her potential. Towards the end its hinted that there might be some resolution but as I said, it wasn’t really clear. Maybe this is intentional, I don’t know. I’ve never really been a fan of books that leave the ending open to interpretation.

What’s evident throughout though is the fact that as troubled as Bernadette may have been, no one can doubt that she tried to be a good mother to Bee. She allowed Bee to be whoever she wanted to be and made everything an adventure. She probably wasn’t the most dependable of parents, but she was there when it mattered. It reminded me of that episode of Modern Family when one character said that 80% of the time, being a good parent meant simply showing up.

So yeah, this book was a good read. While I never really connected to the characters or the plot, I can’t deny that I was thouroughly entertained. Maria Semple’s writing style just flows and I would definitely read her other books if the plot sounds interesting. 

I’d like to end this post with a photo of my mum. Whatever else she may have been in the past, I am happy for the combination of whatever fulfilled dreams, untold failures and twists of fate that led her to being my mama, the wind beneath my wings, my anchor and my rock. 😘

Posted in Lifestyle, Music, relationships

Haters Gonna HateHateHateHateHate: Why I Really REALLY Like – And Relate To – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift releases a new single and its big news on the internet. Sure, some of the reactions were negative but they were reactions nonetheless. Even though people criticised the song “Look What You Made Me Do” the fact remains that they listened and took the time to react to it. They say the opposite of love is indifference so we must all love Taylor Swift, because love her or hate her, you just can’t ignore her.

Like Tay-Tay, I often feel the need to take on all my haters. And for some reason I also have quite a lot of Kanye’s and Katy Perry’s in my life. People who insist on portaying my character in a certain way; people who just can’t leave me alone. And for some stupid reason, I always get affected by what these people say even though really, in the grand scheme of things, I never really gave a f**k about their opinion until I heard all the s**t they’ve been saying about me. And when finally confronted about their behaviour, these master manipulators find a way to turn the tables on you and make it seem like you were in the wrong. They even have the nerve to cite “evidence”. They twist your words to their own nefarious purpose.

Like Tay-Tay, I find it hard to keep a low profile. I know she’s trying to do that by erasing all her previous social media posts but believe me, she won’t be able to help herself because I think just like me, she will always feel the need to defend herself. She also cares far too much about how she’s viewed by the general public. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell us you can’t please everyone. People-pleasing is a DISEASE, its an ADDICTION and I would like to check into rehab please. I feel like every time she speaks up, I get validation that I’m not alone in this world. Lol. That sounded way too creepy. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that it makes me feel better, when dealing with my own detractors, to know that at least its not as bad as what Taylor Swift must be dealing with and like her, I can channel all that hate into creative energy. Like writing. 



After a disastrous week, this new Taylor Swift single could not have come at a more auspicious time. Its the lead single to her new album ‘Reputation‘ and I for one am really looking forward to listening to that album. I will now have something besides ‘Shake It Off‘ to play when someone throws shade at me. You go, Taylor. Keep doing you. Just like you said in one of your songs:



I am officially putting a period to this week; all this hating and all this drama. So much negative energy is not good for my stress-eating. People, let us all take this opportunity to shake it off. Happy Friday!

Xx

Posted in relationships, Self-Discovery

No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

Enough is enough, I can’t go on, I can’t go on no more, no

No More Tears| Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer 

I will be the first to admit that I suck at keeping a low profile. It’s not like I go out of my way to be visible or to live my life like an open book, its just the way I am. Where other people keep their cards close to their chest, I would fan them out for the world to see. If I’m doing something I’m passionate and excited about, the whole world will get a blow-by-blow account of every failure and every triumph. I see no problem with sharing so much of myself with the world. In an alternate life, I would have made such a fabulous celebrity. Lol. 
The problem with sharing so much of yourself with the world is that it leaves so much room for interpretation. People will always attach different meanings to the things you do and often these meanings are a projection; when people judge you, how they judge you is more a reflection of them than of you. 

When I was in college, I earned a reputation for being studious and a good student. For some reason, I also earned the reputation of being annoying and a braggart. I used to study two weeks in advance for every major exam because I cannot cram. I’m just not made to do things at the last minute. So inevitably, three days before a long exam I would be relaxed where most people were still frantically trying to finish revising. Apparently, I used to – unintentionally- rub this fact in other people’s faces. So where I thought I was trying to help my close friends study by quizzing them and sharing what I already know, I was actually seen to be bragging and telling the world ‘hey losers, look at me. I’ve finished studying. I’m smart, you’re stupid. Eat my shorts.’ Or something like that because for some reason there were people in college who thoroughly hated my guts even though for the life of me, I’ve never interacted with them in my life.

I suppose I can take solace in the fact that once people get to know me and my true intentions, they do eventually come to love me. Anyway, as usual, I’ve digressed from the point I was trying to make.

I find myself in a similar situation where people have twisted my good intentions and given it an entire new meaning. I have been judged; assumptions have been made. I ordinarily wouldn’t give it a second thought. Part of the consequence of being so visible is that you will inevitably have people talk about you behind your back, especially if you’re dealing with a group of people where this is so embedded in their culture. I’m not happy with that but I’ve learned to deal with it.

However, there comes a point when ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

I am not perfect. I have many faults and I will be the first to enumerate and elaborate on them in great detail. However, I have always been a hard worker. I have always tried to be a kind person. I  do things because they’re right and because I genuinely feel it would help make things better, not because I want to take credit for something. In fact, one would say after college I have learned the art of humility. Pride cometh before the fall, after all. 

So when someone tries to undermine all that I’ve done by talking about me behind my back, when someone makes it personal, and if this someone has been a consistent thorn on my side for God knows what reason, I ask you dear readers, what is left for me to do? Turn the other cheek and find comfort in the thought that a lot of it is driven by jealousy? Yeah, maybe. There’s no satisfaction in taking the high road though. And the point is, there comes a time when people just need to be put in their place, otherwise you just become a doormat. A confrontation is looming, and I am damned ready for it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while you can’t please everybody, and that trying to explain yourself to people is an exercise in frustration (not to mention, pointless), there are times when you have to take a stand. The saying is right, you do have to choose your battles. I know that’s often quoted in the context of not fighting unnecessary battles BUT there comes a time when you have to realise that this is a battle you MUST fight. 

Have the courage to confront when you know you’re in the right. Enough is enough.