I put this post together for the monthly Day In The Life challenge on the FPOE blog/facebook group. Also, it is very image-heavy.
August 15 was — interesting. By which I mean terrible, but not as terrible as the weekend before that, when I’d just gone off medication and was crying and hopeless and suicidal.
August 15 was the start of a weekend where basically all of my plans fell through in some way or another, some because of me and some for other reasons. I woke up just a little too late to make my first one-on-one cognitive behavioral therapy appointment, and had to reschedule — to September 5. My landlady came back from vacation early and insisted I move back to the smaller room (I’d been using the double since no one had been home for a month, even though she wasn’t happy about that). I had my first photography assignment for a website I’d been in talks with, and it went awry in ways that still confuse and anger me.
But, as I’ve done every other bad day, I survived it. And at least I had a new bag and a new LG G3 smartphone I’d been sent to shoot the Notting Hill Carnival, which helped keep me stable some. Nice new things are magical that way.
I’ve been toying with the idea of this series for a while now, and I’m ready to get started. Basically, I can’t actually be a stylist because it involves sourcing clothes and accessories and props, and I don’t have any money. But a girl can dream, right? And if nothing else, these posts could easily serve as moodboards for future shoots with someone else at the styling wheel.
For my first post, I’m dreaming up a casino heist shoot. It’s pretty influenced by Leverage, because I’m me (this is not the first time I use Leverage as inspiration) and also it’s weirdly hard to find heist movies that aren’t literally all dudes. I mean, I love Ocean’s Eleven, but come on.
I suppose next on the list would be scouting a location, but I feel like any high scale hotel lobby would do a fairly decent job. Though a casino would obviously be best. But I know nothing about casinos, and like, would they charge to let you shoot there? Would there be a conflict of interest re patrons’ privacy? Probably.
I received an Aerie gift card as part of my relationship with the Quality Blue Community. All opinions expressed are my own. (I think you can tell. Ahem.)
Bras! I love bras. I used to sleep in my bra, I love bras that much. I don’t anymore, but that’s mostly because I kind of killed all of them, and I basically have one bra left that’s comfortable enough to sleep in, and I don’t want to mess that one up because it’s also the only bra I have that I’m comfortable wearing on a daily basis.
Yes, I’m breaking Aerie‘s rules in the first paragraph. That’s kind of why I jumped at the chance to participate in their campaign. That and I’ve actually wanted to try Aerie lingerie for like, four years now? Five? Their products look so ridiculously comfortable, like they’re actually made to fit right, and these infographics they’ve put out confirm that for me. I take issue with the whole ‘real’ slogan, because I have an incredible aversion to campaigns that prop up one set of women by putting down the rest. I think it’s awesome that they’re educating people on finding the right bra size for their body type and the right bra for them, instead of doing that thing a lot of lingerie brands do where they just push the sexy aspect and perpetuate the myth that you have to be uncomfortable to look good, but like — you’re helping ALL girls. Because everyone who identifies as a woman is a real woman, and I know you all agree, so why imply that there’s a certain size of boob (a certain weight, a flat belly, a height) that has to be fake? Why not make it clearer that what you’re going up against is the lack of choice for women who don’t fit into the limited sizes that lingerie retailers stock the most of?
I mean, I think that’s what Aerie is doing. I like that a lot. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Now, I also disagree that you need to keep all the bra types listed above in your drawer(s). But it’s a really good bit of reference to figure out which types of bras you do need. I like t-shirt bras, I found out last year, and I wish I’d known they existed before, because I’m stuck with a bunch of super lovely fancy bras that I only wear when my lone tshirt bra is in the wash. It also took me ages to buy a strapless bra that fit, even though I love sundresses. I still haven’t found the right strapless bra, either, probably because of my weird fabric pickiness and because I hadn’t quite got my size right when I bought the last one? It’s been a while. But I think it escapes the 6-9 months rule by virtue of having been worn maybe twice since I bought it. It’s too loose on my wee bitty frame. (Also, let’s be real, I don’t stop wearing stuff until it’s literally unwearable. I can’t justify that kind of regular restocking, and also I get attached to pieces of clothing I find particularly comfy. It happens.)
I just want lightly lined (there’s a word for them! I had no idea! I’m not really into push-up bras for everyday wear but I can’t handle not having any padding around my nipples), demi coverage bras in stretchy non-shiny non-satiny cotton with as few frilly/lacy bits as possible, because I always end up avoiding anything that has lace on it, even if it’s comfortable otherwise. That particular type of bra is what I like, and that’s what I should make sure I buy whenever I get around to restocking my lingerie drawer. The Hannah multi-way looks all kinds of perfect — the entire Hannah range does — and the lightly lined Blakelies and cotton Bridgets aren’t far behind.
As for sports bras, what is the difference between ‘sports’ and ‘yoga’? I have a fitness racerback that basically has no room for a bra underneath, and I’ve been thinking about exercising in that. It feels like a swimsuit in a really comfortable way. But I don’t think I’d lounge in a sports bra. Just. Lightly lined, y’all. That’s what my boobs like. It doesn’t have to be what your boobs like. Boobs have options! We have options. And we should be allowed to choose based on whatever our priorities and preferences are, and be comfortable in the right fit even when one of those priorities is ‘sexy to other people.’
I chose to share this mini panel because I wanted to talk about what I talked about, but Aerie has made up two more infographics all about bras that you can check out on their blog — including one about how to get your sizing right!
Do you favor one type of bra over another or do you mix it up?
or: What To Expect If Your Familiarity With This Event Is Basically Nonexistent, As Written By An Oblivious Expat
As I mentioned in my pre-carnival post on Friday, I’d never heard of the Notting Hill Carnival before — June, May? Of this year. I’ve been to carnivals and I’ve heard of festivals and I wasn’t sure if it would be more along the lines of quirky pier-like colorful carnival or more along the lines of loud, crowded music festival.
So if you are wondering the same thing, it is the latter. It is a loud crowded festival, and it does have music, and a lot — a lot — of food stalls, and there’s a parade but if you get there after 6 PM, it’s nowhere to be seen. I kind of thought it would just go on all day. Apparently it doesn’t.
I also thought I’d get lost, but it’s impossible. The area is cordoned off properly, no traffic, lots of police, actual fences, the whole nine yards — and the buses that serve the area all go right up to the place the traffic is no longer allowed, so you don’t have to worry about getting off a stop early and having to walk, or going past it. Because your bus will keep going and join five other buses, some of which announce they go to and from the Notting Hill Carnival (wow, apparently that big of a deal? Would we put it up there with like, the Berlin love festival or something? Look, all I know about festivals I learned from movies. Chasing Liberty was great), and then you’ll see the crowds of people coming and going, and then it’s just an issue of picking a path and walking it.
Just a mishmash of things that caught me off guard.
1. Local transport isn’t twofold: it’s threefold. There’s buses, the tube, and about a million overground trains connecting the inner city with Greater London.
Some are the actual overground, or at least go by that name. There’s a train from Stratford to Richmond that connects Hampstead Heath super well with a lot of far-off areas. There’s the Thameslink, which I found out about the first time I went to Streatham by way of West Hampstead. And then there’s just trains. A lot of trains. Trains is how you get to areas like Tooting, Streatham, Croydon and whatnot, but also how you get to Haringay and Hertfordshire and Surrey. There are nineteen train platforms at Clapham Junction or possibly more — this is based on memory, not factual, and specifically based on the memory of running from platform 17 to platform 1 or viceversa in an attempt to not miss a train by one minute. Because, yeah, trains don’t run nearly as often as the tube does, and a lot of buses are worth tracking online, too, because they’ll show up once every 15-20 minutes.
The only overground train that shows on the tube map is the proper overground — the one that comes to Hampstead Heath — so it was a bit of a pain in the ass figuring out how to get to Streatham the first time I did. The person I was visiting called the train from Victoria the “Victoria line” — but it’s a train, not the tube, and I think it’s the Southern Rail. It’s certainly not a blue line on the tube map.
Then I lived in Streatham for a week, and now I know things like that there are local trains that will also take you as far as Brighton. Also, the area outside Clapham Junction station is bloody beautiful. I wish I’d taken the pictures the day I went down by bus, but I was busy keeping my luggage from rolling down the bus aisle. My bad. I’ll go back sometime.
Not a whole lot of places, physically. I’ve just been putting my eggs in various baskets, as it were. That sounds gross. No, what I mean is just that I’ve been trying to find work, and I had some stuff planned for Friday, Saturday AND Sunday but literally all of it fell through for various reasons (some of them my sleep schedule), and I photographed my Friday for a Day In the Life feature and you’ll get that eventually. My landlady came back from vacation, I paid part of my rent but not all of it because I didn’t have the money. Still don’t. Which is why I’ve been listing things on PeoplePerHour and submitting proposals on Elance and whatnot. This is what I have up at the moment:
Logos for £90 (usual price £150+) till I make rent: [ buy here ]
One-page brochures, media kits, catalogs and more, all for £60: [ buy here ] (if you purchase a media kit directly from me, I’ll throw in an extra page for you – again, offer valid till I make rent)
Proofreading at £8/200 words (I’m very good at this): [ buy here ]
My Etsy shop is still open, though it will be suspended on August 21 unless I somehow make enough money to cover rent, food, and my Etsy bill (which is just $24, but here we are).
I opened a shop on Crated.com, though I still need to fill it up properly. So many pictures to edit, you guys. So many. I want to open shop on RedBubble soon as well. Crated carries prints (framed and unframed) and canvases.
Sidebar ads are available for £20 for 45 days. If anyone’s got sponsored post leads, do send them my way.
Today I shared three portraits from a session last month on UK Bloggers, linking up with #mysundayphoto. I’m still doing blogger outreach for this, and would be happy to do a full 90-minute portrait shoot for the price of a mini blogger shoot (£60) if anyone’s interested in that. I also really, really want to do bridal and cosplay and will seriously work for donations the amount of your choosing (plus travel expenses). If you know anyone who needs that kind of stuff… tell them about me? I also do product photography, which I need to add to Etsy when I get my listing privileges back. It’s all listed on my sad out-of-date portfolio though.
My website (which I won in a giveaway) is still under construction. To be expected, but still frustrating. I just want to have a proper storefront that doesn’t charge me for listing things. Then again I could start with Crated and submit photos to stock sites, and I just need to start on my backlog to do that.
I got halfway through my CV last Sunday and stalled again.
Finished a blog design for Victoria Sneden, a logo for a peopleperhour proposal that I haven’t heard back from since (at least I only sent low quality files?), got halfway through a media kit template for Tessa of Handle the Heat (did hers last month). Last week I redesigned Hungry Healthy Happy. I need to post all this work to my blog at some point. And do more work.
I’m also thinking of offering design and photography consultations, and photography workshops in person, as well as a biweekly ‘let me critique your site’ thing. Not sure how to go about listing those things or where. I was going to try google helpouts but I got stuck at Google Wallet. The hell is that?
Basically, hire me! Hire me. Hiiiiire me. Hire me.
I’ll begin to put out normal content tomorrow, but today, you get this.
At some point I thought home and didn’t stop till I left and I haven’t felt that way since. Here in London I’ve had moments where I felt exhilarated, moments I felt incandescently happy, but it hasn’t been quite the happiness that Oxford instilled in me. I never wanted to leave. If it had been me today, this person who’s managed to survive this long in London — I would have made it work for me. But I was so far from me today back then.
A Few Things I Miss
By Lix Hewett, Age 24 And 3 Quarters
1. My cat. He’s in Spain and I’m living in London and his name is Oxford. His name explains a lot of things about me. It hints that I’ve romanticized England a little bit, in my head and my heart and my memory. It hints that even though it feels impossible right now, London may not be where I want to set down roots. But mostly it reminds me that I wanted to live here since I was in Oxford six years ago now, the first time I met my best friend in person, the strange summer weather, iced vanilla lattes and sitting in a coffee shop with a book, the time I found a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets without two bricks’ worth of notes weighing them down, walking in the Botanic Garden and forgetting the flies as they flew past me and still having some faith in the educational system, the loveliness of the big old buildings, the sunset over Jericho and the thought of fall.
2. My childhood. This is a tricky one. More than once in my life I’ve had the thought of going back in time and I never wanted to unlearn my lessons, the realities and priorities I carry with me that shape who I am and how I feel and why I do. The further away I steer from the starting point, the harder it is to believe that I was ever without them, that I could have walked down another path and been influenced by different people. But sometimes depression weighs me down, and I wish I could leave my life in my parents’ hands again, trust them to keep a roof over my head and answer the door to strangers and tell me I’m all right as I am but here’s how I could be better, no pressure, all your choice, step by step, which I never got from my parents but I did get, eventually, off people I met on the Internet.
That’s what I never want to lose. I worry if I went back in time I might not do what I did, not every single bit, and lose them. And even though it’s a nice thought
3. Not getting angry when the world doesn’t listen and
4. Not getting angry at every little bit of bullshit, I don’t want to not be someone who acknowledges her failings and the ways she has it easy and will actually put her massive ego aside to support those who don’t because I’m only as important as the next human being and I neither need nor want more of that and I’m only as good as the choices I make every day with my time and my little reach, the only things I’m secure enough in – have enough of – to give away.
5. Financial stability. The illusion of it would work.
6. Chocolate. It’s only been a few days, but the weather’s got cold and I don’t have any and I need.
7. Being an only child, because eighteen years ago may be just long enough ago on the timeline for the things I miss to be real, solid and not slipping away even in the nostalgia-walled fantasies I sometimes have before I go to sleep, where no stranger in the night – human or thing or thought – can ever get to me before first getting through my parents,
8. Believing that there’s someone in the world who can protect you from anything, infallibly;
9. Believing my heart is safe on my sleeve;
10. Wrapping my feelings in words and making poetry with it all, so here’s a silly — but heartfelt — tablet attempt at it.
Last week was awful. It was time to stop taking my paroxetine last Sunday after a month of slowly reducing my dosage, and I was okayish until Thursday, when I basically broke down and stayed broken down for three days. I was stable yesterday and I seem to be doing better today, but I know how easy it is for things to go awry and for me to get back in my own head and go down the ugly bad path again, so for this week’s Monday post I want to try to hold myself accountable for implementing certain self-care rules and making them a habit.
Lix’s Very Specific And Very Personal Guide To Taking Care Of Herself
Fandom. This is massively important. I need fandom before I go to sleep, either in the form of fanfic, or a book, or an episode of TV. I need that, and I need to be around in my fandom spaces — daily. I’ve always got two browsers open, one with each of my Twitter accounts — the only social media platform I have separate accounts on — and it’s so sad that I’m so rarely on Safari when it just makes me feel good, and it doesn’t feel like a chore, and I love and trust my people, and it’s safe. I like the people I follow on my public accounts, but at the end of the day those accounts are public and I can’t control how people react to the content I put out. I can block and delete, but the damage — the anger, mainly — won’t be gone. I’ve always been huge on sharing, and being transparent, and being open about my mental health issues, and I will continue to be because I believe it’s the only way to make a difference and definitely the only way for me to be involved in activism. But I need to cocoon up in a safe space on a daily basis to avoid those days where I basically lose hope in everyone and also myself. Ergo: fandom. Plus, it’s great escapism.
Early mornings. Early mornings are brilliant, and I miss them all the time because of oversleeping and other such bullshit. I have an alarm on that I completely slept through again last week, so I probably need to change it up a little, but keep it there. And just know that it’s all or nothing for me — either I get up at 8 AM or earlier, or it’s a lost cause till noon. I don’t want to sleep in till noon. So I need to get up early, and tire myself out, and go to bed at an elderly person hour. It’s not like I have things to do specifically at night, or people with bad sleeping habits rubbing off on me. I can do this, or at the very least remember that it’s possible and that I freaking love early mornings. Whole day’s ahead of you! Nothing feels quite so daunting when the whole day’s ahead of you. I can’t believe it’s still nine. (I didn’t go to sleep last night. This is not how I want to do early mornings, but hey. I’m not going to not enjoy it.)
Stretching. See, the thing about exercising is that it’s tiring and also a lot of the time you sweat. I really kind of hate that. But I love stretching, and when I stretch I usually end up doing dips and jumps and turns and ballet walking and it’s all very on my terms and really great: it only takes as long as I want it to, I can set it to music, and I don’t have to shower afterwards. (I feel the need to wash my hair when I shower/sweat, and I wash my hair far too often already.) And it still gives me the benefits of a workout — the immediate ones but also the energy that builds up when you do it consistently. And the whole having a goal to work towards — I got so close to doing the splits back in 2012 after just stretching daily for a few months, and I want to see that on the horizon again, dammit.
Actual human interaction. Partly in the form of fandom and partly I guess I just need to seek it out. I have trouble making plans with people because I’m constantly worried about money and also thinking about whether I can get them to hire me, and it’s crappy on a number of levels. I just need to get people to come here. It’s nice here! Let’s just have a chat. Let’s go on a photo walk. I don’t know, just help me stay sane.
Writing everything down. Ideas for my blog, ideas for my business, job leads, thoughts, journaling, things to do, things to do broken into very very small bites, tentative schedules, actual blog posts, lists, dates, times, things that make me happy, basically everything. Because I will forget, and it will suck.
As much as nausea is a constant in my life, I have been doing a fairly good job of feeding myself lately, so I’m leaving that one out. I’m pretty sure I can’t do any better. I’m listening to my body on my budget, and it seems to be working out pretty well. So I just need to keep that up when there are people here. Nothing I cook is complicated enough to be embarrassing to do in front of people.
What are your self-care habits? Are there any you struggle to keep up?
[Note: this is not a happy post. I need to talk, and I reject the notion that you should put a positive spin on things for readers when the whole problem is that you can't. This is how I feel, and I hate it, but there's no reason I should be ashamed of it.]
There’s a lot about expat life I never thought would happen to me. I’m not exactly married to my “home” culture: though I’ve tried to do better in recent years, I’ve always — both internally and deliberately — disassociated myself from my nationality. Sort of like my legal name, my being Spanish is just that — letters on paper. It determines my legal status, and mostly makes things easier for me than they would be from someone coming to the UK from outside the European Union. I also have it easy because I’m white and don’t even look particularly ‘foreign.’ When deciding to move here, I didn’t have to take my race or religion into consideration, and I didn’t have to go through any bureaucratic bullshit. I just bought a flight ticket, renewed my (Spanish) ID, and set off for greener pastures.
(I’m leaving the cliché because one of the things I’ve always liked about England is how green it is. You get on a train and the countryside is all pretty, as opposed to miles and miles of ugly dry yellowish land.)
Obviously I knew it wouldn’t end there. I knew if I was going to really stay here permanently I’d have to deal with paperwork, find a GP, register as self-employed, eventually apply for dual citizenship, all that fun stuff. But I wasn’t going to be the victim of any hate crimes and I wasn’t going to get deported. All that holds true.
It also holds true that I adapted quickly to the schedule here, the earlier closing times, places being open on Sunday, light lunches in the early afternoon and no heavy meals until evening drew close. The past few days notwithstanding, I also really like that people go to bed early and rise early. In Spain, unless you’re elderly or have an early morning, or you’re five, it’s pretty weird to go to sleep before midnight, and I’ve found out over the past couple of years that my sleep schedule is all or nothing. Either I go to bed three hours earlier than usual or I’m fucked. “A little” doesn’t cut it.
I don’t miss the food, either. I’ve always been very simple in my eating habits. I like how easy it is to find orange juice with pulp (er, “juicy bits” — maybe the whole ‘being five’ thing is applicable here also…) and all the variants on seeded sliced bread and baked goods are pretty great, at least when I’m not fighting off nausea. Let’s quickly move on from this paragraph.
My point is, I never expected any kind of proper culture shock and I haven’t had any. I’ll try to post here and there about the little things I encounter that are weird to me, because apparently people like to read that stuff and I’m not one to turn down a chance to make a list, but mostly it’s just, you know, more diverse, the weather is bananas and London is massive… and hugely expensive to live in.
That’s when it starts to get to me that I’m an expat. I didn’t have any sort of separation anxiety when I moved to Madrid for college. It was awful, but it was awful because I was in a dorm and I had social anxiety. One of the main reasons for me moving country was to get away from my family. I love my mom and my sister, but they can both be really difficult to live with. My father is basically impossible. I still get glimpses of all this via Skype. I was never close with my extended family, and I didn’t have any friends at home. All the people I consider friends have always lived in a different country. I didn’t think living in the UK would be all that different.
Turns out it really, really is.
I want to start off by saying that I’m sick today, this weekend, this week — I decided to go off my antidepressants (paroxetine), and see how I fared without them before I decided if I wanted to stay off or try something new (mirtazapine). My GP quite visibly disagrees with this, and seeing how the last week has gone, I’m tempted to agree with her. But it was always supposed to be a ‘what if,’ not a ‘this is totally going to work out for me.’ I just wanted to see.
What I’ve seen is a whole lot of crying and fear and stress and anxiety and tears. I’ve been a walking meltdown for the past few days — god, it feels like weeks — and at this point I’ve probably broken into tears in every five-feet portion of the route between my bedroom and the Starbucks on South End Rd. Also, obviously, in my bedroom and at the Starbucks on South End Rd. Hopefully no one who’s seen that will judge my application whenever I get around to filling it out and giving it in. I need to reprint it. I need to reschedule my NIN appointment — again. I start out feeling like it’s a great idea and I’m going to get it and get all the help I need, and then the appointment draws near and I somehow sleep through it, and start thinking it’s completely useless.
Then again, I feel like everything is useless this week. I’m not going to get anywhere. The people who want to help me can’t, and the people who can help me don’t want to. I feel more and more like I’m pushing myself on people just because I want to know that if I end up not having a place one day, I’ll have a couch I’m welcome to sleep in. I can’t get a flat without a steady job and I can’t get a steady job without money for transport and the mental stability to start giving out my resume. Also, without a resume written up. I can’t get money without working, and I can’t work when I’m crying all the time.
And I’m alone. I feel so utterly, helplessly alone. I’m dreading my landlady coming back from her vacation because I’ll have to pay her and move back to the tiny room with all the noise, but I couldn’t find another place, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, I tried for two days and it killed me, and I’m really grateful that she’s letting me stay another month. But that’s the most she can do. I think it is, anyway. We’ve had some communication issues before.
I want to trust people, but I’m not given anything to trust. More and more I feel like I have to hide things about myself to get anywhere (because I’m lucky I can hide them, if I make a concerted effort, if I convince myself to do it) and there’s no certainty that it will work anyway.
I’m tired and I just want a place to hide for a few weeks. I’m so depressed I’m even considering going home, home where the cat is, home where I’d have to drag my luggage and lose whatever I’ve built for my blog and my photography career by not being where I’m supposed to be. And anyway I can’t register as self-employed at home because their monthly healthcare fee is basically what I’m spending on rent here. And there are no jobs there for me.
Maybe there aren’t any here for me, either, but at least there are ads I can apply to. And that chokes me again, because it means I have to stay here, because I’d have to find a place here, because how do I find a place here? Because I still want to hide somewhere for weeks, if someone will lend me their spare room. Because I feel weak and I want someone who’ll welcome a cry for help from me, who will offer so I don’t have to push or will readily help if I do, who will give me that hiding place I’m craving just to help me.
Basically, family, right? And I just don’t have any here, or the energy to pretend I don’t need help for long enough to fool someone into befriending me. I don’t work that way, anyway.
A few weeks ago I had the chance to work with a fellow portrait photographer, Christine Cherry, and had a blast doing a bit of modeling for her — frankly my favorite modeling thing to date, and it was my first and I didn’t get paid for it. Not sure where everything went wrong. Men, probably.
One of the things we shot was this outfit featuring a gorgeous red maxi dress from New Look. The sunglasses were Christine’s idea, and I found myself more comfortable wearing them than I expected. The dress was a soft, light cotton and really comfortable, too. I’m still weird about maxi dresses, but in terms of comfort I’d definitely choose this one over the blue paisley one, even though I think the blue one is slightly prettier. But I don’t have to choose (unless I decide to get rid of one of them to make room in my luggage… let’s just not talk about moving, I already would quite like to crawl into a hole and die), so hey. ;)