I’m back. For realsies. Promise. 

I realised a few days ago that I have taken yet another massive hiatus from this blog. Oy vey. 
I’m not going to apologise, though, because the lack of writing was mainly due to the fact that I started a new job at a wedding website where I write A LOT about random shit about weddings… which I’m good at because I know way too much random shit about weddings anyway so it’s great to have a place to word-vom all of it.

But this new job has also been a catalyst for me making a couple of resolutions to myself (even though we’re half way through the year now but shhhh). The first is that, because I have to write so much for work now, I will write more for myself. Which isn’t something I’ve really done in a long time – especially fiction writing – so rebooting this blog is part of that initiative.
The second is that I need to get my shit together and finally do the Whole30, which I have been umming and aahing over for a couple of months. Now that my Uveitis is back and I’ve returned to pummelling my body with drugs (and not the fun kind), I have to start taking better care of myself. The Whole30 was first brought to my attention by my friend Bobbi as a way to help some awful stomach cramps I’d been having which I couldn’t understand the cause of. I went ahead and bought the book and did a load of research… and then didn’t start it. I realised this was stupid of me, so 7 days ago I cut the crap and went full speed ahead.

I’ll talk more about Whole30 in the coming days and weeks, keeping you updated on my progress, how much I’m craving Phish Food ice cream, and what my fave Whole30 compliant recipes are. And if you don’t give a shit, well, don’t read my blog until July I guess. (Only do because I love you!) I am going to need all the moral support and cheerleading I can get because tbh I just really love pasta and sugar and I’m dreading going to the cinema this weekend to see Wonder Woman and not being allowed my precious pick ‘n’ mix. Pray for me. 

Anyway, back to the topic of the new job. If you were wondering whether this means I’ve stopped teaching yoga, the answer is FUCK NO. I still teach at Bikram Yoga Bristol and I still love every moment of what I do. I just basically needed some more money. Because, y’know, food… and bills… 
Actually, though, I’ve discovered that teaching less has made me enjoy it more. Now that my opportunities to teach are rarer, I take more advantage of them, and I feel I can give more to my students. 

Not that I don’t miss teaching more; I totally do. But at least I know that, for the moment, whenever I walk into the hot room to lead a class, I am going in with complete presence of mind and excitement to see how my students have progressed, as opposed to slumping in thinking, “Oh not this shit again.” 
And believe me, if you’re a Bikram teacher, you have definitely thought that more often than not. If you haven’t, you’re lying to yourself. 
I must admit that this job has sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, though, where I cannot figure out for the actual life of me what I actually want to do. Like, with my life. Do I want to have my own studio? Do I want to try to be a writer? Do I want to drop everything and go to law school so I can do my best to be an advocate and catalyst for change in this seriously messed up world? (Yes, this is something I am seriously considering.)
I’m at a serious crossroads here. And no, sadly I’m not referring to the Britney Spears film which was a masterpiece of our times. I mean I feel very confused and really quite lost. 

But hey, I got no time for feeling down about that right now because I have 23 days left of not being allowed pizza, which is definitely taking priority as a bigger problem in my head at this moment. 
God I just want some damn cheese.

  • Just before I started my new job, I ended up getting corralled onto a Mindfulness retreat in Essaouira, Morocco with Jackie of Sky Garden Retreat. Essaouira is now my fave place and Jackie and I are soulmates. I also made friends with a lovely man there who makes shoes (because of course I did). You need this retreat. Learn more here.
  • Thanks to the aforementioned Bobbi, I’m now part of a book club in Brizzle where we read cool books and then talk about them whilst eating lots of food. Our most recent book was My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal. Not my favourite, but still a striking read.
  • I am the MOST pumped to be taking part in Inferno Hot Pilates’ first ever UK teacher training in Warwick next month! I’ll be teaching IHP around Bath and Bristol post-training, so I’m very excited to share the class with you and to share my teaching experiences here.
  • I am still traumatised over Valentina getting kicked off RuPaul’s Drag Race 2 weeks ago, but this interview with Bob the Drag Queen made me feel slightly better about it. I am also SO glad Alexis and Nina have gone the fuck home. It was about damn time. Still can’t decide whether I’m on Team Sasha or Team Shea, though. Bear with.
  • Re: RPDR. This:  

On having to admit that you’re actually very scared

It’s half-term this week, as you’ll very likely know by now if you’re a British schoolchild or a parent of one. I know it’s half-term because I work as a nanny and Boyfriend is a history teacher, so we’ve had the week off as well. A lot of people with normal jobs probably think adults who get a half-term holiday mostly spend it drinking, clubbing, going to late-night showings of films (“50 Shades”, anyone? Nope, definitely not us.) and “relaxing”, whatever that is. What have we actually been doing?

Spending the week at Boyfriend’s parents’ place.

The principle activities this week have been things such as: eating far too much cake, doing the crossword with Boyfriend’s dad (“What do you reckon 5-down is then, Sam?” “I don’t know, Geoff, that’s why I left it blank.”) and playing the kinds of card games you play to pass the time on a camping trip when it’s raining. Oh, yeah, and there’s also been a lot of Thinking About the Terrifying Looming Future.

You see, this July will ring in rather a lot of changes for us. I’ll be graduating from uni and Boyfriend will be leaving his job at a school in Surrey to move to a school in Bath, near his hometown of Bristol. So we’ll pack up our Brighton flat into lots of boxes, haul them into a van, and plop them back down in Bath, which will be our home for the foreseeable future.

Now, to be clear, I am super excited about this. I am thrilled about this. I’ve wanted to move to Bath for ages, and I definitely think now’s the right time, especially since I’ll be leaving uni and joining the “real world” and all that other glorious shite you have to do to be a proper grown-up. But this week, whilst we were strolling around Bath talking about how we wish we were millionaires so we could buy a townhouse on the Royal Crescent, I started to get a horrible lumpy, crampy feeling in my stomach. (And no, it wasn’t from eating too much of Boyfriend’s mum’s Lemon Drizzle cake, although I did consider that possibility.) It was from suddenly being very aware that, come July, the proverbial rug is going to be yanked out from under me, and I am very likely going to land flat on my not-so-proverbial arse.

Mind you, it would be like this wherever we were going to live after I graduate, whether we stayed in Brighton or moved to the bloody Orkneys. The fact of the matter is, I have no job prospects (because I want to be an actor), no fall-back options (because I want to be an actor), and will probably have to continue doing student jobs, i.e. barmaid, Saturday shop assistant, nanny, etc (because I want to be an actor). The current name-of-the-game is to get on Spotlight. (For those of you not in the UK, Spotlight is an online database of actors used by agents and casting directors. You have no cache as an actor in the UK if you’re not on Spotlight.) To get on Spotlight, you need to have done 4 PAID acting jobs – not short films, music videos or adverts – and to get those jobs, you need to have an extremely flexible schedule. To have that kind of schedule and still pay the bills, you need to work as a barmaid or a waitress. Maybe a part-time nanny. Either way, you’re not bringing in much money, and you certainly don’t have any kind of guaranteed financial future.

All of this dawned on me during a very nice day in Bath, when I should have been getting excited about starting a new chapter in a new city with the man I love. Instead, I spent most of the day feeling totally depressed, and then had a quiet, Emma-Thompson-in-Love-Actually style sob to myself back at Boyfriend’s parents’ house.

I guess all soon-to-be graduates have to admit this to themselves at some point, and I admitted it to myself this week: I am utterly shitting bricks. And there’s nothing for it except to plunder my way through my last term of uni, save up a bit of money for the move, and hold out some kind of faith that it will work out. 

Yes, it will mean submitting myself for every paid job possible on Casting Call Pro. And yes, it will mean pounding the streets of Bath handing my CV to every pub and restaurant – even the ones who aren’t advertising for help – or potentially taking on another badly paid nannying job. But I did the exact same thing three years ago after I abruptly left drama school and that didn’t go too badly. And then – hopefully – one day, my fantasy of Julian Fellowes popping up out of nowhere, pointing at me, and shouting “You, girl! You will star as a recurring character on the next series of Downton Abbey!” will come true. (By the way, Lord Fellowes, I’ve already got my character’s storyline totally written out if you’d like to peruse it some time.)

In all seriousness, I know the best I can hope for is that, some day soon, an agent will take their chances on me and then maybe I’ll get some bit-parts in a few TV shows. It may never make me a millionaire – it may never even make me a living – but I have to try. Because if I don’t, I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering “what if?”, and I would never forgive myself. But that doesn’t make me any less scared or any less unsure of myself. I wish I was the kind of person who would be happy taking a desk job. It would make my future a lot more certain and it would make July a lot less scary, but instead I appear to be a victim of the stubborn resilience that apparently runs in my family. The only thing I can focus on right now is what I am able to do right now. 

And the other night, when all of this was running through my neurotic-ass head, the only thing I was immediately able to do was to go downstairs and have dinner with Boyfriend and his parents, and laugh about his dad’s outright refusal to get a hearing aid. Because he seriously, seriously needs one.

A meditation on rent-controlled apartments

I had a really hard time balancing in standing bow pose today. Not like it’s ever an easy feat, but today was hard. Partially because I’m still ill, yes. But mainly because I had shit on my mind. Yesterday, as it turns out, was the end of an era, and I was too busy being ill to even realise it.

Yesterday my dad and his girlfriend (who shall heretofore be referred to as “DGF”) closed on the purchase of our Manhattan apartment, my childhood home. I know, you’re confused. How could it have been my childhood home if we didn’t already own it? Well, grasshopper, allow me to tell you a story. It is a story of times past, and of a people who are facing their extinction. Those people are rent-controlled tenants.

I’m not going to get too into it, because there are some technicalities about this shit that I’ll never understand. What I do know is that if you signed a lease on an NYC apartment before a certain date, your rent was guaranteed to only increase by a very small percentage every time everyone else’s rent went up. You could then pass down the lease for two generations. This has allowed a lucky minority of New Yorkers to stay in their “swanky” (or, “not falling down”) apartments that they’d never otherwise be able to afford. If it weren’t for rent control, all these people would be in Brooklyn or Queens by now (no offence to either borough… okay a little offence).

My dad’s parents moved into our apartment when my dad was six years old in 1958, their lease (avec rent control) was then passed on to my dad, who was supposed to pass it on to me. But that’s not going to happen.

To be fair, it was probably never going to happen. Over time, more and more restrictions on rent control have been introduced so that for me to successfully inherit the apartment from my dad, I would have had to live with him for at least six months and one day out of the year for at least two consecutive years immediately before my inheritance kicked in. Fat fucking chance. But hey, New Yorkers will do crazy shit to hang on to their rent control, and who can blame them? They’re resilient bastards. (On that note: I’d be interested in conducting a study on the percentage of rent-controlled tenants who are also Mets fans. The same amount of stubbornness and blind faith appear to apply in both cases. And yes, my family are Mets fans.)

My chances of getting the apartment became even slimmer a few years ago when our building was sold to some asshole developers who basically came in and wrecked the place (more on that later). They wanted my dad out of the building, but couldn’t move him because rent control laws are pretty protective. They also wanted DGF out of the building because she had a rent-stabilised (different from rent control, no idea how) apartment directly below ours. Nothing was going to be done to get them out, until my dad made a deal with the guys a few months ago that basically entailed DGF giving up her apartment so they could gain ownership of my dad’s. This was back in November.

So yesterday they closed on the apartment. My dad’s girlfriend has officially moved all her shit into our place, the deal’s done, there’s no going back. Why don’t I sound happy about that? Well, first off, my dad is apparently now planning to eventually sell it so he and DGF can move to Nashville… (I’d like to see him try, Mr. Self-Proclaimed-Mayor-of-the-Upper-West-Side.)

But it also means a hell of a lot of change. With DGF moving in, it means the salmon pink colour my dad painted our foyer (he was inspired by Bermuda) will have to go. It means a lot of the furniture that’s been around since I was a baby will get nixed. It means my bedroom will turn into the guest room and the hideous shade of magenta I painted the walls with my friends when I was sixteen will probably get done over with a boring tone of beige. My bed will go, my awesome couch that had storage under it for all my shoes will go, and eventually the apartment will stop being the place I grew up in. The last place in which my mum, dad and I were a family before my parents got divorced.

But then again, it hasn’t been that for a long time. When the aforementioned asshole developers came in, they wallpapered all the communal hallways, which had previously been a very unfortunate shade of green. They then replaced the decrepit elevator with a new one with wood panelling that gives the lovely impression of being inside a casket. They also went and painted over (?!?!) the marble in the lobby and made everything clean and crisp and fancy and everything a genuine pre-war NYC apartment building isn’t. The building is no longer “my” building.

One by one they kicked out all the other rent-controlled tenants, most of whom were crazy old Jews who never ceased to exclaim “Look how BIG you’ve gotten! I remember you when you were yay high and had the chubbiest little cheeks…” every time they saw me. Their apartments were redone and I started to see ads all over the Upper West Side showing a picture of my building saying it was “A luxury pre-war condo in the heart of the neighbourhood”.

My friend Abby and I joked about replacing the ads with new ones saying, “Need a place to house your ageing Jewish parents, but too lazy to travel to Boca to see them? 165’s the place for them!” But actually those ads wouldn’t make sense anymore. All the new families in the building are young – the sort of people who love our new gym in the basement. (It’s in the area that used to be a laundry room that I refused to go in because I was convinced it was haunted.) So really the apartment is just the final nail in a coffin that’s been under construction for a while.

Bikram says his yoga is a “moving meditation”, my teacher today talked about it being a “confrontational” type of yoga – and it is. Being in a hot room for 90 minutes, staring at yourself in the mirror and challenging yourself physically forces you to realise things about yourself that you maybe had been ignoring. Well, today my class was a moving meditation on rent-controlled apartments, and the fact that one is no longer in my family.

Maybe I shouldn’t have overthought it so much, but it fucked with my standing bow, and that pissed me off.