what kind of music do you listen to?

This is a frequently asked question, right? And it seems straight forward enough. Maybe to some it is. But I find it impossible. The sheer volume and variety of music. How could you name a favourite? Or even a handful of favourites. I tend to have a few bands or genres ready for people. They find it easier to have a tangible answer. But honestly what kind of music do I like?

Jesus.

It depends on the day. It depends on the season, on my mood, on whether I feel like dancing, on whether I’m cooking or cleaning, on whether I’m drinking, on the weather, on who’s around me, on if I want to smile or not, on if I’m trying to drown something out. And I don’t think I can be the only one. So, no, I don’t think that’s a simple question.

I was sat on a train yesterday and I decided to put Hozier’s album on. No reasoning, it just called to me as I was scrolling. My mum was the one who introduced me to him so I haven’t listened in a while. And as I sat there listening to Jackie and Wilson it hit me. My music taste is the music taste of my family. My family love music. Actually, that doesn’t seem a strong enough emotion. I’m not sure I can articulate how my family feel about music. It understands them. And they understand it. Now in a family of six there is a crazy amount of crossover but there’s also wild difference.

There’s U2, Pixies, Childish Gambino, Nick Drake, Fleetwood Mac (all formations), Elvis, The Specials, Chic, Spice Girls, SG Lewis, All The Luck In The World, Feeder, Genesis, Beyoncé, Travis, Snow Patrol, The Velvet Underground, The Selecter, The Jackson Five, The Eels, Frank Ocean, The Lemonheads, The Lemon Twigs, Green Day, Bowie, Of Monsters and Men, ABBA, The Beatles (obviously). And that’s barely the tip of the iceberg. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by music. And yeah, I find my own music too. Sometimes. But often really I just pick and choose different parts of my families archives and throw it together to make the absolute insanity that is my Spotify starred playlist. I trust the taste of my family so I know I’ll love the music I choose. It feels like a hug when I listen to a song and think of how I ever first heard it and realise my brother messaged me it. My family have led me to some of my absolute favourite music, all from their different corners.

And I think it’s more fun that way. How can you say you only like indie rock or pop or reggae? What do you do when you experience an emotion that doesn’t fit your genre? It seems mad to cut out vast sections of the musical palette of the world. Just so we can fit into a meaningless box.

So I’m happy with not knowing when people ask me. Some days I listen to Of Monsters and Men or Snow Patrol, sometimes I listen to jazz or Blink 182. I also love a good soundtrack like La La Land or Hairspray. I also like Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran. Some days all I listen to is Fleetwood Mac from their Blues days. Sometimes Bowie does it for me. For some reason I love Childish Gambino whilst I’m idling hours away in my room. When I drive with my sister it’s whatever the radio throws at us cos why not? If I’m cleaning I love something like Years and Years or Betty Who or Troye Sivan. In the shower it’s always All The Luck In The World cos it’s my favourite album of all time. When I’m in the car with my dad it’s anyone guess. Could be The Beatles, America, Walking On Cars even The Thrills. Sometimes you just need The Strokes. And sometimes I need The Thermals to remind me of a simpler time. Is there never not a good time for Beyonce? If I’m drinking with my other sister it’ll be ska or rock and roll or disco. Other times I’ll listen to a playlist I’ve made of bands I know one song of but just haven’t got round to exploring yet. On a sunny day it’s Best Coast. When I miss my brother it’s a playlist he made almost a decade ago called ‘This’ll do nicely’. And when I think of my mum it’s U2. Always. I live for the variety. Makes every day different. I don’t see that changing ever.

And you thought I could pick just one song for this post?

release toxic people from your life

Now this week’s self-care task will probably be quite challenging but I promise that it will make your life better. It will give you more time to focus on what is important to you and it will make you feel emotionally lighter.

You need to release the toxic people from your life. People and attitudes that no longer serve you need to go. I think the Kon-Mari method of tidying up can totally work for people too. And why shouldn’t it? I think that just makes sense. Efficiency-wise. So the method asks you to consider every item you own, pick it up and ask ‘does it bring you joy’. Now, I’m not asking you to go around picking people up, in fact you shouldn’t be doing that without their permission anyway. But I want you to think long and hard about the people in your life that you sometimes think are toxic. Now it shouldn’t be hard because you already know who they are. You know you do.

They’re the people who constantly make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. Like you should feel guilty about something. Like you’ve let them down. And yeah, sometimes you will fuck up and let someone down, we’re not perfect. But this is if someone is constantly making you feel bad. Someone who gives you backhanded compliments or interrupts you to talk about themselves. When you meet after a few months or even a couple of days they don’t ask you questions about your life or show interest in your wellbeing. They act like they can do no wrong and they victimise themselves to make you believe you’re the problem. But you’re not. And you deserve better.

These types of people clearly have things to work through in their own lives. But it doesn’t always have to be your problem. It’s not selfish to treat yourself well sometimes too. You need to understand that you don’t have to keep every person in your life who you’ve ever met. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known them since high school or uni or even just last month. It doesn’t matter if you have mutual friends. It doesn’t matter if you live in the same city or different countries. You’re allowed to put yourself first. In fact, I actively encourage it. So you have to look at this person and decide if they are greater than the sum of their parts. Does the good outweigh the bad? Because if not, I’m sorry, but they’ve got to go. Release them from your life because you don’t need their bad energy.

Now how you do it is up to you. I mean if you think ghosting them is what you need to do then that’s fine. Because you’ve got to do what’s best for you. What I’ve found is a good way to solve this is to express these feelings to the person in question directly. I know it can be hard, I really hate conflict too. But you have to get over yourself for at least five minutes and try. When you tell the person how you feel and what you need to change they will show their true colours. Either they will consider your words and think okay, yeah, that’s sometimes true. I’ll do better. They may have a few notes for you, which is only fair. Or you may find they are unfortunately exactly the person you thought they were. They’ll yell at you and victimise themselves. They’ll refuse to work with you towards a more healthy friendship. At this point I give you permission to fucking ghost them. Extricate them from your life completely. Don’t you feel lighter already?

I’ve never understood why people always say that you know they’re a good friend if you can argue with them. I’ve always been of the mind that you choose your friends, so why would you fight with them? Maybe it’s just because I don’t like or have no time for conflict. But I don’t argue with my mates that’s why we’re friends. So if someone is always trying to pick a fight with you they may be someone to consider axing from your life.

This may all sound a bit brutal. But it’s not. If they’re good people who care about you then they will fight to be in your life. If they don’t? Well, you quite honestly don’t need them. Instead focus on the people who love you unconditionally and without strings.

Peace.

Yes, Even Stars Break – The Scene Aesthetic

what did you expect from the vaccines?

Sometimes I look up from my own thoughts and realise it’s been eight months and I have been doing the same thing every day. Whether that’s not replying to friends messages for no reason, watching eight seasons of Friends in less than six weeks or realising you haven’t done that thing that’s been on your to do list since last year. And it’s kind of exhausting. Exhausting to always be doing the same thing. To stagnate and never change. But it’s hard to convince yourself to change. Sometimes it’s easier to just watch the weeks and months pass instead of taking part in them. I think it’s good to switch up your routine but I don’t think it can all be done at once. So maybe we just pick something really small and alter that. I have this thing where I hear a new song that I love and then I will just put it on loop for like a week. Then I’ve killed it so I have to move on. The problem with doing this is there is no variety. There isn’t even any albums. And whilst it may seem like I’m listening to new music, I’m not really. At my rate I may just get fifty new songs a year. Which may sound a lot to some people. But to someone who usually always has music on that seems like a very small number. And I don’t want to only listen to the music I already know for the rest of my life. So yesterday I put on the first album by The Vaccines whilst I was walking to work. I’ve been to one of their gigs before with my siblings. I’d say I enjoy their music cos I like what I’ve heard. But then I thought, wait do I even know all their songs on their first album? Turns out I didn’t. But it’s a fucking good album. Wetsuit and Lack of Understanding are boss songs. As well as the more well-known songs like Norgaard and Post Break-Up Sex. I’m going to move on to the second album soon. To build my knowledge. But for now it’s been nice switching up my day by bringing some new music into it. Baby steps.

Wetsuit – The Vaccines (duh)

january wrap up

So I’ve been watching Booktube wrap ups for years. I find a lot of new books that way. And whilst I’ve always wanted to translate the idea to my blog, I have never been able to. Why? Cos I usually finish like one book a month. Or none. Or sporadically like five. But there’s no consistency. Anyway, somehow – and I have zero idea how – I managed to read eight books in January. So I’m jumping on my chance now cos this may never happen again in our lifetimes. I’d like it to but we can just never know. I had a pretty good reading month and I learnt a lot from each book. Which is always nice. Spoiler-free, I’m not a bastard.

The Sun And Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

If you’ve not read ‘Milk and Honey’ yet then what are you doing with your life? This is Kaur’s second collection and it’s just as delicious as the first. It is raw and honest; it doesn’t shy from the hard topics. It’s a book of self-love and strength and I think all people (but especially women) should read this. And treat yourself a little more kindly.

The Beautifull Cassandra – Jane Austen

Before I read this I saw a lot of hate for this collection. People moaning that it’s not representative of Austen’s later work. Well you’ve got to give some slack to the poor kid cos she was a teenager when she wrote this. Did she ever want it shared with the world? Probably bloody not. I’d be mortified if the world saw the rubbish I wrote when I was a kid. But I think these stories were funny and charming and a little mad. I’d read it again.

Girl meets boy – Ali Smith

This was my first Smith. It’s worth a read but I’m not sure it’s everything I hoped it to be. There are some interesting passages where the main character kind of sinks into her own subconscious and considers the big questions. And I liked the discussion on sexuality. But I found it lacked much plot. Maybe this was the point and I just missed it.

Wonder – R. J. Palacio 

I read this in preparation for the movie and it was everything I wanted it to be. It’s a lovely coming of age story. It deals with problems and injustices all kids face as well as many more. It’s endearing and will choke you up in places, fair warning.

Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling

This is Kaling’s second memoir and I think I liked it even more than the first one (though I would recommend that also). Mindy Kaling doesn’t fuck around. She’s real and honest. I found her last essay, actually titled ‘Why Not Me’, to be super inspiring. It makes you back your dreams and think, yeah, they could actually come true.

Love And Misadventure – Lang Leav

I’ve read a lot of poetry this month which is why I know this isn’t my favourite. Which sounds harsh. But I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s a good collection and it would be perfect if you’re looking for some love poetry. I just found it got a little repetitive and I couldn’t imagine that this guy she was talking about was that great. But maybe I’m just cynical!

The Princess Saves Herself In This One – Amanda Lovelace

I’d maybe throw it out there and say this was my favourite read of January. It’s difficult to pick a favourite poem because the whole collection was perfect. It touches on a lot of topics but I found her words on grief particularly poignant. She gets it, man. When I finished reading this I felt close to Lovelace, almost as if we were old friends. Go and read this right now.

Before I Die – Jenny Downham

I lent this off a friend years ago and it’s just been sat staring at me on my shelf. I think if I would have read it then I would have liked it more. It’s a good YA, and it’s an important but often overlooked topic, the themes of teenage cancer and how life is fleeting. It will definitely make you cry but I just wasn’t always a hundred percent in love with the characters.

Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure

take yourself somewhere

Today, instead of sleeping in or hanging around watching Netflix, I took myself to an exhibition at Liverpool Central Library. Since October they’ve been having a History of Magic exhibit around the country’s libraries to celebrate twenty years since the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The one in Liverpool ends this weekend. I’ve been meaning to go for weeks but isn’t that just what we always do? Put things off til they’ve passed or we’ve lost interest?

I think we also don’t do things because we think we can’t do them alone. But that mentality doesn’t serve us. We end up missing out on our own life because our schedule didn’t match up with our mates. When what’s really stopping you from going somewhere yourself? Societal norms and pressures? Your shyness? Or your complete inability to be alone with your own thoughts for a few hours?

Whatever it is, I think we need to do something about it. When I was travelling in Berlin last summer I’d been casually eating at cafes or grabbing snacks from shops because that was more comfortable. Somehow a cafe seemed less scary and awkward than a full blown restaurant. But then I figured I just needed to get over myself so I took myself to a Vietnamese vegan restaurant and it was delicious. And you know what? It wasn’t weird either. People don’t care what you’re doing because they’re living their own lives.

And that’s my message for you. Nobody cares. So you’ve got to stop caring. You can have self-care, sure, cos that’s what all these posts are about. But you can’t care about thoughts and actions you can’t control. So stop waiting for your mate or your brother or your girlfriend and just go and do something you want to do. Take yourself on a date, if that’s what you wanna call it. But really it’s just called living.

Go to the cinema, go on a walk, travel to a new city, just go the corner shop. Just do it alone. Because you should be able to spend time with yourself. You need to. And you never know what you’ll find. Maybe you’ll discover a new album as you travel on the train, or maybe you’ll have a novel idea as you walk through the museum, or maybe you’ll just have a random conversation with yourself in your head as you wait for the cinema to go dark. Either way, I think you’ll learn something. And we’re never done learning.

Dosage: For adults of eighteen and over I’d suggest at least once fortnightly.

Peace.

Knots – All The Luck In The World