The Woman I am Not

“What did you do at the weekend Jane?”

I am surrounded by five women I work with, all eating kale salads or spreading avocado on crackers. I suddenly feel that my chicken and stuffing sandwich on white bread with a side of crisps looks embarrassingly out of place. I hesitate. Should I tell them that my boyfriend and I watched the 2000 WWF Royal Rumble while eating kebabs? Given that the majority of them probably spent their Saturday attending their bikram yoga classes, I choose to lie:

“Erm, I went on a cycle.” I had doubted that they would have been as enthused about The Rock’s victory that year as I had been. I sat there, frustrated with myself. Why lie? Was the truth really so embarrassing? I knew the issue I had wasn’t with the women surrounding me, it was with myself. Over the past few months, I had started to feel… abnormal. These women were everything I had envisaged I would be as a woman in my thirties: they knew the difference between a Malbec and a Merlot, they had children whom they took to ballet, they were all slim, fit and attractive and had an air of maturity about them that was slightly intimidating. Don’t get me wrong; they treated me very well. It wasn’t anything they consciously did that made me feel uncomfortable in their presence. I guess it was what they didn’t do.

Compared to them, I felt like a silly, immature little girl who would never have life figured out. I spend my free time playing PlayStation games, watching horror movies and rugby, eating Nutella out of a jar, teaching my cats The Macarena and sending decidedly ridiculous Snapchats to my friends. Maturity wasn’t the issue, however. Besides all evidence to the contrary, I am actually pretty mature….

Well, okay… I know when to be mature. So that wasn’t what bothered me. The issue was what these women represented to me. They represented an ideal of feminism I felt so alienated from. They reminded me that I was quite far away from being the graceful, high-heel wearing, hummus-eating, almond milk-drinking lady I had once envisioned I would magically become. They reminded me of the woman I am not; the woman I would never be.

I don’t bake. I don’t have children. I hold babies like I’m about to drop kick them for three points. I drink to get tipsy, not because I notice the citrus aroma in whatever white wine I’m drinking. I watch wrestling, reality TV and violent films. I don’t know how to sew. I can’t wear high heels. I don’t enjoy looking at photographs of babies, weddings or curtains. I DON’T KNOW WHAT A TRACKER MORTGAGE IS.

I get in touch with my inner glamour goddess every now and again, but sometimes I need to clean the dog crap in my garden Marilyn.

You’re probably thinking, so what? Aren’t all of the above antiquated stereotypes about women’s interests anyway? Perhaps. But it was difficult to sit amongst these women, day in, day out and not feel so uncomfortable in myself. Whether I liked it or not, these were their interests. Which, of course, they were entitled to. They weren’t the anomaly, I was. I know that I’m not better than these women, and they’re not better than me. I actually liked them very much and they showed me nothing but respect and kindness. It was just that I was so so different to them. But why?

I suppose I can’t really answer that. I know everyone is different, but I was like a black sheep in a sea of pink flamingos*. As time moved on, I begin to accept myself for who I am, and who I am not. Just like they’re not wrong for their personal tastes, I’m not wrong for mine. Okay, so I would prefer to see Stone Cold Steve Austin perform a stunner than look through a book of carpet samples. Each to their own, right? They might appear more traditionally feminine than I do, but so what? We’re all women. Our differences need to be celebrated. They nurture us. They teach us. I cannot be someone I’m not. Why would I force myself to eat avocado or learn how to sew when I just don’t want to. That doesn’t make me any less of a woman.

And what exactly is femininity anyway? It doesn’t necessarily mean pink stilettos and prosecco. I can look to all the wonderful qualities these women at work (and all the women in my life) possess. They are nurturing, they have empathy, they are sensitive and gentle. They are strong. And while I won’t be hitting up the nail salon with any of them anytime soon, I appreciate why they like the things they do. They make them feel happy. Just like Wrestlemania makes me feel happy. 

I do love being a woman. I also love a hell of a lot of random crap: makeup, Jurassic Park movies, owl ornaments, cats, UFC, poetry, flowers, anything involving Hannibal Lecter… I can be a woman and like all of these things. There’s no set of rules that we have to abide by. It’s not like you turn thirteen and have to level up to the next woman level by passing a cross-stitching exam.

Anyway, labels can confine us. They often present us with barriers and prevent our growth. In the traditional sense, no, I’m not very feminine. That’s okay, it would be a little stifling to be defined so easily. In today’s world, gender roles are not as clearly defined. We are being restricted by them less and less. I am as feminine as I am masculine in many ways. Except when it comes to dealing with spiders. Don’t come near me with that shit.

So yeah, I’m going to continue watching Storage Wars with my terribly chipped nail polish and my Seth Rogen donkey laugh. Sure, there isn’t going to be a Disney princess based on me (unless Disney suddenly envisage their princesses with terrible hand-eye coordination and a penchant for leggings) but did Snow White ever knee-slide across a floor while managing not to spill two pints of cider?

Didn’t think so.

*Gives you time to mentally picture that. Enjoy.

Dear Future Me

Dear future me,

Have you seen the movie Tractor? No, me neither, I’ve only seen the trailer. Har har, get it? You always say open with a joke sooo…

Moving swiftly on. I decided to write this because I wrote a letter to fifteen year old me who obviously can’t read what I wrote because she’s in some 2002 time warp wearing combat pants and drinking vanilla Coke, but you can. You, future Jane, or present Jane by the time you read this (my braaaaain), you can read exactly what I wrote to you and heed my advice. Just because I’m younger than you doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad advice. I just want you to still have fun, even if you probably can’t drink tequila and put your foot behind your head anymore.
I reeeally hope you’re thinking:

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I hope that everything is going well for you. If you are healthy, have a home, still have Jack, have a son or daughter and a steady job then I want you to know that you are very very lucky. Because you’re me, you probably complain, even when things are going well. But listen- you need to quit it and appreciate what you have. Don’t make me jump into my flux capacitor and come get you.

Right now, I’m happy…but there is so much more that I want. And I am hoping that you have some of those things. Of course, you’re not going to have them all. I doubt you’re best friends with Jennifer Lawrence, living in Aruba and hosting Letterman. But if you are happy, healthy and secure… Well, that’s all we’ve ever hoped for, right?

I want you to know that this Jane loves to laugh. She loves Jack very much. She loves the countryside and the sound of laughter. Her family are everything to her. She helps young minds open up to the world around them. If, for any reason, something has made you forget all of this, then I want to remind you: your life has meaning. You were happy. You can be happy again.

If your life is going dandy and you know it, then swell. It would be really great if you could master time-travel and come back to give me some dough. Come on Jane, I’m waiting. No? fine, I’m so putting you in a home.

Let me just end by reminding you that you once touched Nick Carter as he was thrusting in leather and covered in sweat, just incase you forgot. Who am I kidding, of course you didn’t forget. I just wanted to revisit that memory. *goes to dark part of mind*

Also, I’m dying my hair already because I’ve spotted a grey hair or two. If you could keep that up so I don’t resemble a Shakespearean hag, that’d be great.

I’m going to go do handstands while I still can, don’t be too jealous. You’re still a total catch.

Yours (literally),

Past Jane (creepy smile) x

Girls Alone Vs Boys Alone

My boyfriend is away (lecturing at a university, FYI…smartie pants). We’ve often spent quite a lot of time apart, but that was when I lived back home, near friends and family.

Since I’ve moved away, my nights alone are a lot more…lonely.

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Source
I know how you feel Elmo

Today at work, I mentioned in passing that I was going to be spending a few nights alone. When I said this, I was surrounded by four of my male colleagues. Later, I was talking about it with my female colleagues. The differences in their suggestions of what I should do are hilarious.

The Boys’ Suggestions:

Jane, you should totally come for after work beers with us!

You should just be naked all the time.

One word: Porn.

Another word: Playstation.

Have some “alone” time heh heh heh.

The Girls’ Suggestions:

Have a candlelit bath.

Read a good book.

One word: bake.

Another word: Manicure.

Listen to some classical music.

Have you any suggestions for me?What do you like to do when you’re alone?

Why being a guy would be great

I like being a lady. Okay, it’s debatable whether I can accurately be called a lady but I’m definitely a woman *looks at boobs* yep, definitely. Sometimes though, I would like the comfort that comes with all things male. Here’s why:

1. Guys can have all the beardy goodness that a beard brings

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I’m cold. I’m so cold that I’ve been writing this sentence for two days. Anything that could make me less cold right now would be great. A beard would just be lovely; but of course, I’d be captured by the first travelling circus and made kiss sexually-confused people. So count your blessings men, you have the option to grow a majestic face-blanket.

2. Guys can basically pee anywhere*

*Except on a roller coaster
I really hope you appreciate this one guys. I really do. There’s been many a time Jack and I have been enjoying a countryside drive when *boom* the bladder fairy decides to make a visit. (The bladder fairy is a real thing, with a wand and wings and a belt of Ocean Spray cranberry juice.)
When I am swaying from side to side and silently weeping at the lack of public toilets in Ireland, Jack will nonchalantly shrug. ‘Just go outside’, he will smugly suggest as I imagine life post-bladder explosion.
I can’t go outside. I just can’t. For us girls it involves careful positioning of clothing, perfect balance and worst of all…. SQUATTING. There is possibly nothing more shameful than squatting in a field with your bare ass being caressed by the cold breeze as you’re watched by inquisitive cows (this never happened to me. Ahem).

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3. Guys can get ready for the day ahead in three/four easy steps:
-Get up
-Shower (optional)
-Brush teeth
-Get dressed

In fact, guys could get ready for their own weddings this way. For us ladies, it’s different. Yes, some of us are pretty low maintenance but you could bet your bottom farthing that most of us spend quite a bit of time getting ready to face the world every morning; there’s shampooing, conditioning, blowdrying, straightening/curling, negotiating with mascara wands while making all manner of ridiculous facial expressions, etc.
You might say that this is unnecessary buuuuuuut…

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Tell that to Katy Perry

4. Guys don’t have periods

Most of the time, I’m a nice girl. But once a month, when my Aunt Mary (I gave it a friendly name in the hope I would welcome it more, it didn’t work) comes to visit, I turn homicidal. Anything with testicles within a 100 metre radius is in imminent danger of death by scissors kick. I turn into an emotional mess, crying at TV adverts and getting angry at toilet paper being hung in improper overhand fashion.

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Me, last time “Aunt Mary” visited

5. Ageing is an easier process for men

There are some hot female celebrities out there who are sma-hoking (Helen Mirren, call me) and who haven’t felt the need to Botox themselves within an inch of their lives. Most women fear ageing like men fear a swift kick in the nuts. I’m going to blame a combination of the media and all those freakin Real Housewives who look like extras from House of Wax. Some women are now resorting to face-lifts and Botox in THEIR TWENTIES.
And men? Well, it seems the older they get, the more desirable they become. Think of the most desirable of all the silver foxes, George Clooney. He still has women of all ages throwing themselves at him (probably literally). Then there’s Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Junior (is it hot in here?)
My point is that Jack has grey hairs on his head and he looks gorgeous. I will no doubt look like this:

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The best gift ideas since sliced bread

Feeling the pressure from trying to find your lady friend the perfect Christmas present? Well, you can put down the novelty reindeer antlers and Chris de Burgh CD. I’ve got your back. Here are some ideas so great that I probably should charge you guys actual money to read this. But I won’t cause I’m cool like that.

1. For the philosophical lady

You know what would be so original? Ditching material possessions and instead giving her a big ole box of nothing.
Is the box half full or half empty? Actually, it’s all empty. You’re welcome.

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2. For the maternal lady/hair aficionado

What says ‘I love and value you’ more than a doll covered in questionably proportioned ginger hair? Exactly. NOTHING.

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3. For the technophile

Anyone woman would be very very excited to receive one of these… A GENUINE DORA THE EXPLORER AQUAPET. For some reason, they were all sold out in my local store but I’m sure there’s plenty available online guys. Don’t panic.

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4. For the lady who’s afraid to touch her pussy

Sometimes I don’t actually like touching mine. But alas, all my feline related woes have been solved by this genius invention. There shall be jubilant pussies the world over. Huzzah!

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5. For the lady who just wants an intact banana, dammit!

I genuinely love this. Somehow I feel unworthy of such genius.

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6. For the fashionista

Now when’s she’s doing all your ironing, she’ll be wearing an expression of barely concealed resentment AND this t-shirt. Sweet.

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7. For the ‘cuddler’

Now she can complain that something else smells of stale cigarette smoke and disappointment.

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8. For the multi-tasker

Guys, help a gal out. Now she can serve you dinner and clean the floor at the same time. Or clear your snow-filled driveway. This baby is versatile.

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9. For the trend setter

If Sinead O’ Connor had worn one of these in her famous ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ video, I know I would have taken her more seriously. It comes with a hat *and* a hairpiece. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

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10. For the lady who is smoking. Literally.

You want a cigarette, you’re wearing mittens. We’ve all been there. You can’t take off your mittens because your fingers will literally fall off. You have to have a cigarette because you will brutally murder all of your colleagues otherwise. ‘WHAT THE HELL DO I DO?’ you ask? Well firstly, put me down. And then take a look at these bad boys. First there was the wheel. Then there was electricity. And now there’s the smoker-friendly mittens. Beautiful.

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So there are all my amazing ideas in all their ingenious glory. No, no, you don’t have to thank me. I live to serve you. In the words of Paul McCartney: ‘now go and get her’!

10 things you should never say to an angry woman

1. I’m just going to go out and get drunk with the guys till you calm down.

2. You shouldn’t sulk. It makes your face look fat.

3. You’re starting to sound like your mother.

4. In my defence, it’s your fault.

5. If you’re mad about this, I’m just glad I haven’t told you about all the other stuff I’ve done.

6. My ex girlfriend never seemed to mind.

7. I am taking this seriously, I promise. I just remembered a really funny scene from Seinfeld.

8. As long as you have absolutely no follow up questions, yes I was listening to everything you said.

9. I’m not saying I don’t see your point of view, I’m saying it’s stupid.

10. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch any of that. I was mentally playing ‘Call of Duty.’

photo: istockphoto.com

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