Culture · Uncategorized

The March Round-Up: Trashy telly, a moving memoir and rediscovering my basic roots

Not gonna lie to you friends, March has been quite a shitty month. There’s the obvious reason, of course, that the weather has been depressing and awful. The Jew-fro is really not cut out for this climate, and hasn’t been coping well at all. I’ve also been feeling particularly anxious this month. Probably partly because I’ve been hiding under a hood for weeks with no direct access to sunlight, probably because I partied way too much in February, probably because my company moved offices and I’m the absolute worst at coping with change, even if it’s good change.

But when these things happen, and I feel a bit overwhelmed, I’m trying to start a new thing – called doing a mind clear-out. I put so much pressure on myself to do everything and do it well, but sometimes I need to declutter my mind and get rid of the worries that are taking up too much unnecessary space. So the other week I decided to have a break from this blog, and delete my Instagram app. I decided not to care too much about cleaning the flat, and let it get kinda gross. But you know what, it actually felt really good to have a few less things rushing around my head, so I could focus on the important things in that moment – like my career, my family and making it to the end of Friends season 4. When I ended my blog/Instagram/cleaning boycott, I felt SO much better. Self-care is a buzzword that gets a bad rap these days for being a bit wishy-washy, but if you take it to mean removing some of the pressure you place on yourself then I think it’s pretty fab. It’s okay to let some things slip by the wayside every once in a while and focus on the things that make you happy – you can do anything, but not everything.

ANYWAY, enough of that snowflakey nonsense, time to get on with all the good shit I’ve been doing this month. It hasn’t been all bad, honest.

I’VE BEEN WATCHING…

Queer Eye

During my week-long break from Instagram and the blog, I also took a mini-break from Friends. I was starting to have dreams that I was living inside Central Perk and I just thought that really can’t be healthy. So I took up a new series addiction in the interlude, in the form of Queer Eye. If you’re yet to join the party, here’s a brief explanation: five gay guys, each with their own area of expertise (interiors, fashion, grooming, food and culture) give Southern men – usually straight – life makeovers. They help him look slick and feel great, and at the end of each episode everyone cries, and it’s like so happy and so sad at the same time. It sounds like a trashy American format and to be honest – it is. A lot of the time, the makeovers make barely any difference, and I find it really frustrating that there’s no catch-up at the end to see how the guys have been getting on post-makeover. But the real pull for the show is the ‘Fab Five’ – they’re all gorgeous, hilarious and just make for bloody good TV. The show has also been receiving so much acclaim for the way it breaks down toxic masculinity, and the overarching message of inclusion, acceptance and finding common ground despite difference. In one episode, Karamo, the black culture expert (aka the one who gives the pep talks) bonds with a Trump-supporting white cop. In another, the interiors guy Bobby Berk breaks down to a religious man about his own Christian background and the lack of acceptance he experienced as a kid. In all its ridiculousness (like the fact Antoni, the food expert, only ever teaches the guys to make things like cheese toasties), it’s so feel-good and joyous and I cannot WAIT for season 2.

I’VE BEEN READING…

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

This month, I actually bought a book, instead of just borrowing it off someone else or grabbing it off the freebie table at work. So this was a big moment for me. I bought this because my boss said it was one of her all-time favourite books, it looked short enough to finish in a few tube journeys and the author basically has the same name as me. All the best reasons to purchase a book, I’d say. Besides having a great name, Ariel Levy is an amazing journalist for the New Yorker and this is her beautifully written memoir. Exploring her upbringing and the rise of her career, it then documents the breakdown of everything she held close, from her wife becoming an alcoholic, to her own infidelities to losing her baby on the bathroom floor of a Mongolian hotel. It’s devastating and hopeful and honest, and is a reminder that you can never have it all no matter how hard you try. And even if you do have it all, that can all disappear in a heartbeat. Sounds depressing af but the prose is so gorgeous that I closed it feeling completely lifted.

I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO…

God’s Plan by Drake (and other chart music)

So for the past couple of months, I have completely neglected my Spotify. I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading on my travels, and when I’m at home Laurie basically takes over the Sony speaker with his techno music and Afro-house (which I’m pretty sure is cultural appropriation, but it is fun to dance to. Does that make me a bad person?) ANYWAY, I was at my friend’s house when they put God’s Plan by Drake on – his latest hit which I would normally know the words to by heart. As they shouted every lyric, I just sat there thinking, wtf why do I not know this? I was ashamed to call myself a basic bitch. The way they looked at me wondering why I wasn’t joining in will haunt me for the rest of my days. So, I downloaded the song and – as expected – I’m now addicted, and have played it at least 50 times since then. I also downloaded some Dua Lipa and Bruno Mars, and feel fully down with the kids. Trying to balance adult culture to fit in with your colleagues and youth culture to fit in with your friends is one of many #MillennialProblems I am tormented with daily. Time to up my game.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

After watching Queer Eye, I obsessively stalked each of the Fab Five (as you do) and discovered Jonathan Van Ness, the grooming expert, has his own podcast. I expected it to be about like, grooming or something, but in fact each episode covers a really interesting topic that he’s curious about – ranging from psychedelics, to what Brexit is (he’s American, obvs), to why the bail system in America is so fucked up. He speaks to a different expert on each time and asks a load of questions. I would normally find that kind of thing a bit boring because I’m not super intellectual, but neither is Jonathan so it makes it feel much more accessible. Plus his voice is just the best, he calls every expert ‘my baby’ and talks about ‘giving it the most’ (I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I’m definitely on board). Learn and laugh your way through the morning commute – what more could you want?

Happy Mum, Happy Baby with Giovanna Fletcher

I’ve loved Giovanna Fletcher ever since my friend sent me a link to a YouTube vid of her singing with hubby/McFly frontman Tom (which I’m still obsessed with), but I never thought I’d listen to this podcast. Mainly because I’m not a mum nor to I plan to have children any time soon. But my also-non-mummy friend recommended it to me because she said the people Gi has on are always great, and the conversations are actually really interesting. I haven’t listened to every one, but I found the chats with Emma Freud, Tom Fletcher and Davina McCall really enjoyable. I’ve actually learned a lot about motherhood, and despite it sometimes going into detail about sorta gross things that happen when you’re pregnant (e.g. leaking from every orifice) it actually makes me super broody. Is that weird? Ever since I started listening, seeing babies out and about or on Instagram makes me feel like I might explode. Sometimes I think all my problems would be solved if I had a little baby with squishy cheeks wearing a hat with floppy bunny ears. [Laurie’s family, if you’re reading this: don’t worry. He told me if I had a baby now he would buy himself a one-way ticket to Brazil.]

I WENT TO SEE…

The Phantom of the Opera

MASQUERADE, PAPER FACES ON PARADE, MASQUERADE, HIDE YOUR FACE SO THE WORLD WILL NEVER FIND YOOOOU. Yes, that’s right darlings, I went to the theatre AGAIN. But this time, I went to see a show I have already seen eight times (first time aged two) because my auntie Penny (aka bae) has worked there as a viola player for 20-something years. I took some of my colleagues and we went backstage afterwards to have a look at the stage and amazing sets. I’ve done this every time I’ve seen it, and still always find it exciting. One time, aged ten, I sung Think of Me on stage while the curtains were drawn, because my childhood dream was to play Christine. I didn’t realise there were still some punters in the audience, and a couple of people clapped sarcastically leading me to go completely red and cry a little bit. This time though, I was much more mature, and decided not to sing on the stage. That dream died when I was in year 7 and didn’t get the role of Gretl in my school’s production of Sound of Music (not bitter at all). Regardless, I’ve been singing the Phantom soundtrack around the flat ever since, driving Laurie to the point of insanity. He particularly lost it when I crept up behind him in the bathroom whispering, ‘I am your angel of music, come to me angel of music.’ [NB: Being as annoying as possible is a great test as to whether your partner really loves you.]

I’VE BEEN BEAUTIFYING WITH…

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish in ‘Fair’, £34

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I love Charlotte Tilbury packaging. The rose-gold twenties-style design really does lure me in, but I SWEAR the products are actually fabulous too. I’ve had my eye on this powder for a while, but have been addicted to loose powders recently so didn’t want to commit. But I decided I should probably get a good compact powder to carry around with me, and my lovely sister got this for my birthday. I’d heard VERY good things and it is everything I hoped for and more; you can use it under your eyes, or all over your face, and it doesn’t look cakey or sit in fine lines. It’s barely noticeable but does what you want a powder to do – sets your makeup, keeps it lasting all day and controls oils. Tick, tick, tick.

Glossier Clear Lip Gloss, £11

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Yes Arielle, you’re a basic millennial bitch who loves Glossier. Tell us something we don’t know. No but really – this lipgloss will change your life. As I always say about every Glossier product, it’s really bloody tiny and will probably run out in a few weeks, but I’ve never seen a shine like it. You can actually see your own reflection in your lips. I generally don’t wear it with any lipstick underneath because I just love the wet-look with a natural lip, but the fact it’s clear means you definitely could.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20 in ‘Porcelain’, £34

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This is not a new product, but I ran out last month and had to survive a few weeks without it (torture) which reminded me just how amazing it really is. I’m a full-coverage gal because I have a really bad habit of picking and scratching at my face, giving myself scars (which I’m aware is ridiculously counter-productive for someone who loves skincare and makeup) so I generally don’t wear this on its own. I mean, you definitely could, as it does have a heckuvalotta coverage – I usually do in the summertime when my skin is a bit calmer – but I at this time of year, I mix it in with whatever foundation I’m currently using. It makes it so much smoother to apply, and is so hydrating for my dry and damaged skin. When I paid for it in Space NK it did feel like a slight dagger to my heart (bank balance) but when I applied it the following morning aaallll was forgiven.

IT Cosmetics Illuminating CC Cream in ‘Fair’, £30

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The only thing I could wear on my skin while I waited for payday to repurchase my lil Laura Mercier baby was this foundation. With its dewy, hydrating formula, it was the only thing that didn’t make my face look like a slab of crackly cement. Plus that shiny pink tube packaging with a pump is just EVERYTHING I NEED AND MORE.

I’VE BEEN WEARING…

Junior Nike Air Force 1 with Arctic Pink tick

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I ran out of money pretty early in the month because I paid for multiple holidays, so I was on a no-spend. But then I walked past Office on my way to work and saw these in the window. My favourite brand of trainers + millennial pink tick + ribbon laces + white velvet trim + available in junior so half the price of normal nikes = fate. But then I looked online for them and my size was sold out absolutely everywhere. I was genuinely whimpering at my desk during my lunch-break as I scoured the net and my colleagues legit thought I was crazy. Finally, when I had lost all hope, I went to the Nike shop in Oxford Circus and bought THE VERY LAST ONES IN A SIZE 4. AND THEY’RE NEVER COMING BACK IN STOCK (apparently). AND I EVEN GOT STUDENT DISCOUNT. The stars aligned for me, and in that moment I knew how God felt when he created the world. That everything was good, and everything was right.

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