The consumer you’re trying not to be (but you are)

The demanding buyer

You know those times you want to buy something but you don’t really want to buy it so you’re lying to yourself thinking “I will buy this coffee machine when they make it in blue, with red dots and matching ceramic mugs. It’s exactly what I need” Never going to happen. You don’t want to buy it. You can wait till it wakes you up in the morning and brings you the coffee in bed if you want. You don’t want to buy that coffee machine. Close the window. Go to sleep. Stop lying to yourself.

The perfect life

Then there’s the aspiration purchase. The things you want to buy cause you want to start doing something you saw in a movie. “I want to buy this pan to make crepes on Saturdays when we relax on the sofa having coffee.” First of all, the one who makes the crepes, doesn’t relax unless they are actually in a movie. They are on the pan, watching the dough, making sure it’s out on time. Second of all, if you really have an uncontrollable urge to make crepes, you don’t need a special pan. Not all people have a special pan but they still make crepes. Move on. This pan is not for you. Also, you sound pathetic.

The e-shop gambler

I have this theory. If you wait long enough, the Sephora site will go up to 50% off and that’s when you’re going to go on there and finally buy all the products you’ve had in your basket for weeks. The beauty sites actually cause a domino effect. If one drops the prices, they all do. Like cheerleaders hating each other.  It’s beautiful.  Keep repeating the affirmation ‘I don’t need you; you need me. I have nothing to lose, I can wait forever’ It works, really. Eventually the prices do go down. It wasn’t you though, they would have done it regardless. Sorry to spoil the magic. 

The influencer trap

My all-time favourite is the thing you think you want to buy cause someone else has it. You’ve watched that gorgeous vlogger put that honey oil on her hair one too many times and oh does she look good. Let’s clear the air here. Paying eighty dollars to get her hair oil is not automatically going to make you her. The oil, as expensive as it might be, will not give you the perfect body/house/lifestyle. It’s not the oil you want. So, stop eating those cookies at midnight and go run it off. Are you choosing to remember her perfect hair routine but intentionally forgetting she eats only kale? It’s all a lie! She’s not that happy either. And I’m sorry to break it to you but her products don’t deliver in your geography. See? Fundamentally wrong. Move on.

My pretty coffee mug, bought on impulse

Dedicated to my mum who taught me to only buy pretty things. Happy Mother’s Day!

The younger sibling, a spaghetti western

I know I know, what a cliché! Nobody cares! Well, some people care. I care. I know most of you secretly care. Anyway, I need to vocalize to heal so I’m gonna go for it. 

I am six years older than my first brother. (This is a nice first-grade sentence Nat, what a start.) He was actually born when I was in first Grade. It was November and that piece of information shouldn’t matter at all had it not been the day in November before my birthday. That’s right. I should have known right there and then that things were about to change. The day before my sixth birthday is when the rest of my childhood birthdays would end. Shared cakes, candles, presents and pocket money, parties with sweaty two-year olds running around, the works! 

It was a long time ago, many of the things that could get social services at your doorstep, were absolutely fine back then. Like five-year-olds buying cigarettes and beer. We even returned the beer bottles for something like 2 cents a bottle as soon as we could count. I feel old writing this but also lucky to have witnessed that era but also even older now that I wrote about how lucky I feel. Anyway.

He was supposed to take over the chores from me. Finally after 10 years of rounds to the super market I was ready for a promotion. To my surprise, he knew his rights by instinct. He said no to all the chores, he never carried beer bottles or bought cheese. He only went to the local grocery store to buy chocolate or ice cream for himself and that was that. He was well ahead of his time. I admire him for that now. I wanted him returned to sender back then.

First of all, he doesn’t know how lucky he was to have me. I had nobody, OK? No inspiration, no role model, nobody to steal a car from to take my friends for a ride before I even had a license. Nobody to get me into clubs, nobody to give me love advice. Nobody to kick. Nobody. He came along and it was like I accumulated all this wealth of knowledge and all this wisdom just to pass it on to him for free from Day 1. And what did he do? When he was old enough to hold his number two, he got all the meatballs our grandma hid in the oven for when he showed up.

I’m sure he is enjoying all the attention he is getting right now because that’s what the younger siblings’ middle name is: Attention. Either too much or the lack of. Attention in the good things and no attention at all in other things like what time they got home, why they need all this money, which friend is in their room. Things are even better for them if the first child has been an angel, in which case she has. Then parents are even more clueless cause they don’t realise how many things could have gone wrong. 

You see, the second baby is royal. They are the I-will-do-it-right-this-time babies. And they know it. The second baby always knows they have it good. That’s why they usually just eat and sleep. Cause they know they got nothing to prove. They are there to be marvelled and spoilt. End of story.

According to Adler (Wikipedia), the Austrian psychiatrist, firstborns are “dethroned” when a second child comes along, and this loss of perceived privilege and primacy may have a lasting influence on them. With all due respect, before you shameless secondborns reading this start calling me on my issues, I would like to send a message to Mr Adler or his grand-children more like that I do not belong to this category. I have no issues with my dethronement, I’m just writing a public article about it a few decades later.

Tomorrow marks the first day we are free to go out after two months in quarantine. I’ve already planned what I’m baking to celebrate.  My brother is coming over. I’m probably gonna cry. He’s not. He’s gonna laugh at me crying over seeing him. That’s what younger siblings do.  You pave the way and they laugh at you and then they eat all the cake you made but you still love them to death. This is how it is and how it will always be. And it’s fine by me as long as he stops to fetch some beer on his way here.

I swear I’m not pulling his hair back there.

On marriage

When my grandma was presented with her husband-to-be one evening, she packed a bag and ran for the hills (almost). She woke up the morning after and quietly made her way to the next village where the train station was (and still is).

My grandma might have been on to something. Something that had to stay dormant for another generation because her parents had a horse carriage. They caught her before she had a chance to hop on the next train to freedom.

Her only consolation was that my grandpa was tall and handsome with green eyes. He looked like an old Hollywood dream. Like the Greek edition of Clark Gable minus the weird moustache. (Just when you thought Gable couldn’t get any better) This was 1955 after all.

Arrangements aside, I believe -and you can pretend to be expressing my opinion and not yours- that every woman wants to get married when they love somebody. Not to own them so much, as to feel they belong, like under Law. At least, they want to get asked. To be given a chance to say no even.The classic case of ‘I don’t wanna marry him, I want him to want to marry me’. I know you’re smiling right now cause you know what I’m talking about.

Once, a long time ago, I got so pissed off at my boyfriend for not asking, I went and bought my own ring. He never found out. I thought, “I’ll get my own ring. I love me.” Of course when he started showing commitment, it was too late. There’s a window for stuff like that. There’s a fast-approaching expiry date too. Men, read this part again please.

I believe we pretend not to care about marriage to prove we’re cool and avoid coming across as pushy and needy. A girlfriend of mine has a box with baby shoes. He doesn’t know. They’ve been together for 14 months. Maybe he’s reading this.

I also believe men genuinely do not care. It’s like dessert. You ask them if they want any, they say no. Ten minutes later you bring it to them and they eat it. Men are that simple. I love men for that.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to put on a gown and drag him to the city hall or some church or something. You’re not cake. I just mean don’t take it personally if they don’t ask. It’s not that they don’t want to marry you. They do. They just haven’t thought about it. See? Men are simple. And by simple here, I mean stupid.

My grandma’s marriage lasted till death did them part. Of course she’s still with us, going strong at 87 which proves men rather be dead than married. Also, this is not what I wanted to write about today but the news was on about how many wedding guests you’re allowed to have now and apparently the limit is 250. So I guess it’s important to you guys to get married. Not to me, obviously. I’m just the girl who bought her own ring. Cause I love me. Go ahead. Repeat daily and stay safe.

11.05.1966
She seems to have taken it well, 11 years in.

Living together; the struggles of true love

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. I live with the perfect guy. I do, it’s true. Not because he’s gonna read it (he doesn’t read everything I write, it’s called self-preservation) but he truly is perfect cause he always allows my drama to unfold before his eyes, enduring it stoically. So I will be writing this piece with sincerity and boldness like a champion.

Now, about you. If you have decided to move in with your partners, congratulations. I don’t mean it entirely ironically. It takes some balls cause we are talking about settling on some pretty basic stuff here. We’re talking about bowel movements, alcohol cravings, spontaneous crying and sudden existential crises. In other words, all things essential.

Also, the little things. Like you can’t go to bed without brushing your teeth cause they’ll think you’re disgusting. It takes a few months before you rebel against your perfect image and say to hell with it, I’m bored. Same as the first morning you don’t make your bed or you don’t do the dishes before they get home. If you’re there, well done you! You are finally yourself!

Chances are though, you still pretend on some things. Like you pretend you’ve always recycled glass. Paper is one thing, but glass takes extra commitment cause you need to wash it more thoroughly, it takes up space and it’s heavy to carry. Also, glass recycling bins don’t come as often. You’re thinking to yourself, isn’t paper enough? Paper saves trees, what does glass save? Where does it even come from? Seriously I have no clue.

Recycling has nothing on food though. Especially when you’re really hungry and you decide to make an omelette sandwich. Only now you have to ask them too if they want one, which of course they do cause who in their right mind says no to an omelette sandwich. So now you have to wait longer to eat, you make theirs first to show you care and also because you don’t want to have yours cold. Always start before you feel famished. That’s my advice.

We can beat around the bush for hours but by far the biggest problem in a cohabitation situation is the fart. The one you so desperately need to get out of you but can’t. I don’t know what level of intimacy you need to reach in order to let this one free but I haven’t reached it yet. I sometimes sneak a few short ones when he’s on the phone so clearly not listening for anything else around him (yes, I’m at the mastery level of control, I am able to customise the duration). When he snores I can slip a few staccatos in between his mezzo fortes. Farting is important to me obviously and we should talk about it more often and more openly.

What is also pretty hard, is if you are a natural born drama queen. As a sole apartment occupant, you opened a bottle of wine for yourself, put some heavy eyeliner on, wore a satin red robe with nothing underneath, some Edith Piaf in the background and walked around the rooms drinking and crying till you got thick smudgy black lines running down your cheeks at which point it was imperative to go stand by the window, stare at the pink evening sky and wonder whether your best days are behind you and if this is your best life. Now think of the above with your man in the house. I know, right? Ridiculous.

The other thing I realised lately is the bed myth. You are not sleeping in a double bed. No. A double bed is when you have double the size of a single bed all to yourself. You are in a single bed my dear and you haven’t realised. You’re 12 again. You feel tense and uncomfortable and you cannot put your leg on a 90-degree angle. Unless he gets up earlier than you in which case you get a few hours of stretching bliss say between 6-8am.(you can also fart during these hours) Other than that, the starfish sleeping days are O-V-E-R. Sorry.

I was thinking of forgetting about this article all together this morning when he came to bed to wake me up and then he turned the coffee machine on and left my favourite mug there for me to pour some …I felt guilty for trashing all that for a few farts and a stretch in bed. But it’s true, it’s all true, you just don’t care as much anymore, you enjoy it the days you can still have it like when he goes out (in the normal realm of things) or when he’s on a trip or something. The truth of the matter though is that there’s nothing like the arms you love around you when you share the couch for a movie. If only he could sometimes scoot over a few more inches and turn the volume up a bit so I can finally fart.

This is the safe distance if you need to fart while he’s on the phone.

Never lend a book and other stories…

So, I’ve been thinking…I recently put together a few of those ugly IKEA shelves, you know, the ones everybody has in one colour or another.I put them up and created a little wall space for books. Books I love and want to look at on my way from the sofa to the dining room table. Books my friends will consider pretty sophisticated when they visit. Books that make me feel good just for having. I’m kidding. Sort of.

Jokes aside, I read most of them some of them if we’re honest…there’s one however, I’ve put off forever. A book I will open on my deathbed just to prolong the inevitable. ‘I’m not ready to leave this life just yet, I haven’t finished David Foster Wallace!’…even his name is long. One thousand seventy nine pages in the smallest font. I’m writing this in words so the number doesn’t scare you. Like many fools out there, I’m thinking of taking on this daunting task during quarantine but even this won’t last long enough for me to finish. Long being the operative word here..We’ll see…

Generally, books are the item you are socially allowed to love and shit all over its identity at the same time. They’re perfect saucers, balancing laptops high enough to watch the movie based on your book, put under rocking furniture, holding doors open, keeping doors shut. I’ll stop now cause I don’t like embarrassing books. I love books. I love them especially cause each book has a story. (this must be a term in literature)

There’s always the one you bought cause a lover was reading. Let me tell you, he wasn’t. He was pretending to read cause you were pretending to be an avid reader. That’s why it didn’t work out between you two and now you’re stuck with his stupid book. Then there’s that book you bought from JFK before boarding cause it would be so cinematic to read something sophisticated like a Barthes or a Foucault and ponder on life at 38,ooo feet. While in reality, the baby won’t stop crying at the seat behind you, the flight is bumpy and you have exhausted your limit of in-flight booze while maxing out your credit card buying bracelets off the plane magazine, all at a desperate attempt to soothe yourself.

My favourite kind of book though is the one you’re so guilty about, you hide in the bed drawer. You read it cover to cover in 14 hours straight and you remember everything. Every couple of years you take it out and read it again just to relive the story. It’s trash. It’s a trashy book. OK, there are no trashy books (well) but let’s say that having read it doesn’t make you Fran Lebowitz. You know it and I know it and you know I know cause I’ve done it too.And if you’re bold enough, like I am, you’ll put it on your shelf between the Franzens and the Murakamis pretending you don’t need to pretend.

So I put these shelves together, which I now love, with my half-read collection that I’m not guilty about. I’ll keep buying cause books are beautiful and I can’t believe I have gone on for so long without falling into the cliché Waters quote. Let me just take it a step further and tell you this as cringe-worthy as it may sound. If they don’t have books, fuck them anyway cause you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (told you, cringey). Anyway you didn’t go there to read, did you?

If it works out, buy them some. Just make sure you don’t lend. If you lend books, it’s like a curse. They never return. Not to your friend, not to the person who saved your life. Buy them again and gift them if you must. If you lend them you have to buy them again anyway. So, please, trust me on this one and never lend books. Or sofas, but that’s a completely different story. Another time.

I know you’re looking for my guilty pleasure right now.

first words, why now

A fortunate turn of events brought me here.

A couple of months on a small island, a true love and many smokeless coffees in NYC later, it was time for some reality. I started landing awesome freelance jobs that reminded me I am pretty good at what I do, punctual, talented, reliable, a joy to work with, modest.

So, here I am, I thought I’d start doing more of the things I love and less of the things I ‘have to’.

Hope you guys find feelings in here to relate to, get inspired or simply just find some reading companionship. At worst, a laugh.

Maybe we’ll figure out together where we’re going, how we feel and what’s worth settling for.

I’m so happy I’m here.

Nat