Because you’re worth it…

Keep young and beautiful

I know it’s imperative to look after your skin. Obviously. People like to look young. Or rather, I think people are scared of growing old. I think that may be more the case. I personally just like to look healthy. Not easy when you’re naturally blessed with the complexion of a three-day-old corpse. Okay, so perhaps I am exaggerating a little but let’s just say… I’m pale. Very pale.

I come from a generation where, as a child, you would sneak into your mother’s room and see all the little miraculous pots and sticks and stuff. Particularly that ubiquitous little pink pot with the black lid: the Oil of Ulay. What a magical sound it had. And you would always try to sneak some on but it smells so much like baby powder that you knew you would get found out.

Mother had a big thing about skincare; she felt it was vitally important. I grew up in the wilds of West Wales and at the time I lived in a windy, hilltop farming community. You were constantly blasted by wind and rain and leaves. So keeping any skin on your face at all automatically put you ahead of the game.

Mother was always on at me to keep my skin nice. She would say to me “You must keep your skin nice. Boys like girls with skin.” Yeah, I think that goes for most humans, Mother. Of course she could have been pronouncing ‘skin’ with a capital S. I’m not sure. That could of course have had a completely different meaning, one that even to this day totally eludes me.

Her next gambit would always be “Nobody will look at you if you don’t have nice skin!” She would be quite emphatic about that. My response was always the same: “Mother, I wear glasses. Skin is irrelevant at this point!”

So, growing up I saw all these wonderful articles in the teen magazines in shops, things like ‘10 tips for fantastic looking skin!” and ‘Get glowing skin – now!’, while my mother’s magazines said things like ‘moisturise your way to younger looking skin!’ – you can see the shift in emphasis right there, can’t you?

When I was a teenager, I thought well, perhaps when I hit 30, then I’ll consider having a skincare routine. I’ll be old then. 30 came and went. So did the skin care plans. My actual aim for when I hit 30 was to avoid growing up as much as possible. Growing old didn’t bother me. I just didn’t want to grow up. I still don’t.

I thought that when I hit 30, I would have to cut my hair, start wearing suits, and start listening to Beethoven. As it turned out, none of those things happened. Okay, I will listen to Für Elise if it’s on. But that’s it.

And then after I hit 30, I thought perhaps when I reached 40 I really had better do something with my skin. Then 40 passed. To cut a long story short (too late!), I thought perhaps I better do something…

Going off at a tangent slightly, Helena Rubenstein said that in terms of make-up, all a truly beautiful woman needed to wear was mascara and lipstick. I think Mother must’ve adhered to this but she was of a generation they didn’t have 20 or 30 different products you had to slap on before even thinking about leaving your room in the morning. Personally, I reverse think this one.  I wear only lipstick and mascara on the premise that… oh, well… you know.

Back to Mother’s dressing table. There was the old cold cream to cleanse; followed by this magical little pink pot (which was the height of luxury in those days). Of course in her day, makeup was basically a bright red stick of  some sort of fudgy lipstick (always bright red) and mascara took the form of the dolls house pot of shoe polish (always black) and a tiny dolls house hairbrush. And that was make up for her. I never dared trying the dolls hairbrush and shoe polish thing but I did, on occasion, risk trying the red lipstick. As you can imagine, I was not expert at putting this stuff on! I’m still not, come think of it…

There was only one problem: it readily smeared and it did have a tendency to stain. You could never quite eliminate all evidence of it on your face. So of course when Mother would see me standing there with the bright red smears running down my chin, she would ask me in an agitated manner, “Have you been trying on my make up? “ I would always deny it vehemently.

Just picture it – a small vampire child (with fangs now very much apparent), stands there with a red dribbling down her face from her mouth, desperately trying to deny that no, no, no, those red smears aren’t make-up. What conclusion what would you come to?! Not the smartest answer I could’ve given, thinking about it. I’m sure she probably went around and checked all the pets and the neighbours’ children. I guess that’s probably why I wasn’t allowed to bring anybody home to play with. I suppose she always had a thing about me not playing with my food…!

But here’s where I share another secret… Coconut oil. Cleanser, moisturiser, face pack. And you can eat it. If you can’t play with your food, then how about eating your beauty products..?

What would Mother say? Pfft.


Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire

Smoke and Mirrors part 2

The mirror incident came about because of something I forgot to tell you. You know how (in modern films at least), how vampires have a low body temperature? Well, this is actually true. I mean, it’s not massively low: they always exaggerate everything in films. I suppose it’s to make us sound more impressive than we already are. Haha. It’s a matter of a few degrees (about 4 or 5 degrees), but it is enough to make a difference physiologically.

I don’t feel the cold that much, but I am very sensitive to heat. And yet, for some reason, I’m like a little human radiator. I never need to wear gloves – even in the snow. In fact, in snowman building season, I’m always the one people come to when they want to get their (gloved) hands warmed up! They just grab hold of my little furnace-like mitts and thaw them out.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? It was a real nuisance when I was a child, because of course when I was feeling ill, I could have a roaring temperature and the thermometer would say…. Normal. Steam would be practically coming off my eyeballs and Mother would take my temperature and say, “No, you’re fine. Absolutely normal. You can go to school.”

Er, excuse me… I’m standing here with eyes like poached eggs, and you’re telling me that’s normal?

So, as you can imagine, I quickly gained a rather warped view of what constitutes ‘normal’. In the end I had to learn how to fake various illnesses if I really wanted to be treated as ill. That’s another story for another day.

And now, back to the mirrors. Because of the area and time I lived in as a child, we had to be checked for lead poisoning, due to how the water pipes were made in our area (I told you I was old!). Their interesting way of checking us for lead poisoning was to x-ray us. This will make sense in a minute. The temperature thing… This was the problem: if my temperature got too high, I was in trouble. As you can imagine, (high temperature) plus (sensitivity to heat) plus (V12 engine brain) equals… convulsions. Bad ones. I would just have a major neural freakout. This happened every time my temperature went too high. But of course, according to the thermometer, I was perfectly normal. So nobody could quite work out was going on with me. Hence the suspicion of lead poisoning.

This resulted in endless rounds of tests, on top of the lead thing. Everything had to be checked: liver, kidneys, blood, brain… It also led to me having these most horrific eye drops put in which made my eyeballs feel like they were being scrubbed with wire wool (I’m not exactly sure why this was done). They also made my pupils expand so much that my irises would appear to vanish. I have quite large eyes. Not Disney Princess large, but still big enough to give folks a start when I take my glasses off. I guess this is one of the reasons I have light sensitivity.

So where does this tie in with mirrors? One day, on the way back from one such eye-drop test, my father had been asked to go into the butchers and buy some sausages (Mother was always very good at killing as many birds as possible with as few stones as necessary). In this butchers shop hung the most incredibly beautiful mirror I had ever seen. It was full-length (well, full-length to a short 5-year-old) and had the most exquisite frame. It had mermaids and dolphins and seaweed all around it. At the top was that chap with the trident… Poseidon. That’s him. And there were little fish and crabs and waves and all manner of other encrustations. You’d have thought this sort of mirror would be more appropriate in a fishmonger’s, but I never really questioned it…

Anyway, I used to love this mirror and would spend ages staring at each little detail on it. However, on that fateful, post-eye-drop test day, I happened to catch sight of my reflection (yes, I do have one). More importantly, I caught sight of my eyes. Or lack of them, should I say. As I stared into the mirror, a pair of pitch-black animal eyes stared back at me. This caused me to have something of a meltdown, right there in the shop.

I don’t actually remember what happened after that, but apparently it took four men to carry me out of the shop. Even at that young age, I was immensely strong. I have been known to take doors off the hinges. In fact, the other day when I went for a run and stopped by a local bridge to stretch my calf muscles, I almost snapped the handrail of the steps leading up to it. It can be embarrassing.

So, ever since then, I’ve had a phobia of mirrors. Now, I guess that incident alone doesn’t seem enough to cause such an adverse reaction, but there is a little more to it. My big brothers used to make me sit down on a Friday night and watch films with them. Nice? No, not really. One of the TV channels (one of only 3 at the time!) would host a late night Friday creature feature, under the umbrella title of “Appointment With Fear”. Well, when I say ‘late night’, I of course mean it was on after the 10 o’clock news, but that’s really, really late for a little kid to be staying up!

It was the opening sequence that scared the living daylights out of me. There would be this strange and horrible noise in the background and a normal face would appear (turns out it was actually Bride of Frankenstein, but hey, what’s normal anyway?). The seemingly human face would then morph into a monster, and another, and another. It was – to me – far worse than anything in any of the films. (You can check this sequence out for yourself at http://youtu.be/24NiHts3fvU -it’s only the first 15 seconds or so). And then of course, I’d get the standard comment of “That’s you, that is!”

For years afterwards I had a recurring nightmare where I was at a party and when the clock struck midnight, the other guests would force me to sit down in front of a dressing table mirror, and make me watch as I slowly turned into a monster. Very Freudian. No, not Freudian like that! I mean Freudian inasmuch as since then I have tried to lay low, in case people found out what I am. Perhaps this is what made me the Everyday Vampire.

You can probably guess how I got my phobia of spiders…!

 

 


Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire

 

Smoke and Mirrors part 1

Did I ever mention mirrors?

I think I did. Please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (said no woman, ever).

I saw this thing the other day. It was a blog telling you how to pretend to be a vampire. It was adorable! It had these really cute pictures and lots of great tips. How did I come across it? I did something that everybody does at some point: I typed my name into Google to see what would come up. Well, not my real name, just my nom d’internet, so to speak. Who hasn’t googled themselves from time to time? You can’t beat a good self-Google, I say.

Anyway, as I said, I came across this gorgeous blog. Written by an enthusiastic teenager, I imagine; given the references to ‘school mates’ and ‘classes’. It was beautifully done – that blogger has a great future ahead of them as a graphic designer. The tips were really sweet, like – always wear sunglasses… well, that’s a one-way ticket to A&E, if you ask me… And things like – never let your friends see you drink; or if you must, make sure you’re drinking tomato juice (you know my view on tomato juice!).

Oh, and of course…

don’t have any mirrors in your home

which I have to agree with. I have one mirror in my home. That’s it. That’s for necessity’s sake. Shaving. I mean, my husband and shaving. Not me! I’m a vampire, not a werewolf!

The reason I don’t have any mirrors is because I have a phobia of them. It stemmed from (as so many phobias do) an incident that happened to me as a small child. This whole thing about vampires and mirrors… you know, the whole ‘a vampire casts no reflection’ thing; although that depends on whatever twist the latest trend is using. Sometimes we have a reflection, sometimes we don’t… The consensus of opinion was always that a vampire doesn’t have a reflection because ‘it’ doesn’t have a soul. (‘it’!! Pffft!)

When you realise that this stuff dates back hundreds of years consider this: mirrors then were not like they are now. They probably weren’t made that well. Whether metal or glass, they almost certainly weren’t flat so only gave you a straight image if you stood right in front of the thing. Therefore, if you stood at an angle, you wouldn’t be seen. Possibly all that would be seen would be the other side of the room. That’s how that one could have started, quite easily! How many times have you seen that little moment in a vampire film? Someone stands in front of a mirror, brushing their hair or whatever, sees nothing but themself, then they turn around and – boom – the vampire is standing there. Cue tense music, flapping of cape and baring of fangs, with obligatory screaming.

However… the person brushing their hair or shaving can see the brush or the razor, and I’m pretty sure brushes and razors don’t have souls either! I just have this image in my head that when we die and go to heaven, we’ll be sat there on our fluffy clouds, playing the harp while surrounded by little hair care accessories with wings…

This also dates back to the days of smudging. I’m all for smudging, if you know what it is, though not for the reason you think, if you knew what smudging was… Er… Anyway… in ye olden days, what they (whoever ‘they’ were) used to do was to take a tied-up bunch of herbs, usually Rosemary or Sage and burn it (a bit like an incense stick).

You have to be careful with Rosemary – it’s very oily and will go up like a rocket if you’re not paying attention! However, accepting for the moment that you’ve got it right, and it’s smouldering away beautifully, you then wave it around doors, windows, and the fireplace – basically, any of the house’s ‘orifices’.

The idea was that smudging – as part of your spring clean – would keep out the evil spirits. How did you know if it had worked? Well, nobody got sick because as everyone knows (or, in those days, knew), sickness is caused by evil spirits. And Rosemary was this magical herb that had the power to ward off these disease-causing evil spirits.

Just goes to show how things change, doesn’t it? Fast forward a few decades/centuries, and it’s discovered that Rosemary is actually a powerful antiseptic. Of course people weren’t being sick. They were disinfecting their house against germs, rather than cheesing off any malevolent spirits with a grudge against the family! So there you go. It’s all a bit of the ‘flat earth’ technology, you know, we’re sure as sure can be of something and then new facts emerge…

What was I talking about? Oh yes, mirrors. The wretched tale of how this vampire became terrified of them….

Oops.


Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire

You keep using that word

Consequences.

Happy New Year! Yes, I know I said that last time, and I’m saying it again – for a very good reason. All will become clear. We all blether on from time to time about consequences, usually those of staying out too late, or watching just one more episode on that DVD, or the one more doughnut that-surely-wouldn’t-hurt. But in this regard we’d probably be better off using a more appropriate word: regret. The actual word ‘consequence’ has been superseded by another, more explosive word – fallout.

It doesn’t matter what the word or action is, there will always be consequences; there will always be fallout. Of course, things like social media have amplified this up to the nth degree. Essentially though, putting your foot in it, or saying / doing something stupid / dangerous / ill advised ‘for a laugh’ or because you’re cheesed off with someone / something is a concept as old as feet or mouths.

Example 1: A number of years ago I was out with a friend, her husband and her small son. We were in a small market town in the south of England, which had a real butchers shop. As it was the boy’s birthday that weekend, my friend and her husband asked me to take the little boy into the butchers shop to buy some sausages while they went to buy him a birthday present. All very secret, hush-hush.

So into the shop I dutifully went with this three-year-old child hanging on my hand. The shop was crowded; there were shelves and packages everywhere. It was unusual in that it had two of those big glass display counters. In one unit was the standard array: mince, chops, chicken legs et cetera. In the other was a side of beef. And I mean an entire side of beef. It spread along the whole counter. Being at his eye level, the little boy (let’s call him Bob) was immediately drawn to the scene of carnage.

“What that?”  asked young Bob.

“Beef.” I said.

He repeated his question. I repeated my answer. He tried the question again, slightly more forcefully this time. I thought I couldn’t really unleash the truth on such a small child. However his insistence left me with no option.

“What that?” came the question again.

“It’s half a dead cow. Okay?”

At that point, I had to take him hurriedly out of the shop as he burst into tears rather loudly. I did not tell his parents exactly what had happened: only that he had gotten a little fractious in the shop. The consequences only made themselves apparent a few years later.

Fast forward four years and one sibling later. I was at the christening of their second child. Bob was now seven years old. The proud parents gave a speech about welcoming the new baby to the family. In particular, they were singing the praises of young Bob, who apparently was the ideal older brother. He was a young man of honour and conviction. For example, out of the blue, at the age of three, he had decided to become a vegetarian, and still was one…

I shrunk down in my seat and said nothing…

I have my own scary butchers shop story, which left me with Spectrophobia – you’ll hear about that next time.

Example 2 – and this is where I was leading with my initial salutation. ‘Calan Hen’ is a Welsh tradition that is celebrated on the 6th January. It’s when the Christmas decorations come down, and you have to stop telling people ‘Happy New Year’, because the New Year just ain’t that new any more.

That’s what my mother told us.

Deciding to read up on this nationwide tradition, I uncovered something quite alarming.

None of it is true.

Calan Hen is indeed a celebration of the old New Year, just not what we were all brought up with. It started back in 1752 when the British dumped the old Julian calendar in favour of the new and shiny Gregorian calendar. Consequence? 11 days got lost. The previous New Year’s Day fell on what was now January 12.

But, undaunted, January 12th continued to be celebrated (two for the price of one, if you like), with children going from house to house with apples skewered with sprigs of holly, wishing the householders Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (I’ll leave you to work that one out!!) and collecting calenning (a few coins) as a reward for their good wishes. Oh, and of course there was the football match between one village and the next, with the churches of each serving as goalposts. I think they still do it, although in these days of Health & Safety, less people end up dead or maimed.

And there was something else, too. It wasn’t a nationwide celebration at all. It is a celebration that is exclusive to my home village. Which explains a lot of weird looks I got years later from fellow Welshies that I met.

So, be careful what you say or do – it might just come back and bite you on the bum…

Talking of bums and consequences: on a lighter note, I had one thing happen to me today that (I think) had a positive consequence, if rather painful. I had gone to the market to stock up on all the ingredients I need for my A+ juice and as usual overdid it a bit. So, as I bent over to put things into my rucksack, someone whacked me sharply on the backside. Standing up, I was expecting to see one of my friends. Imagine my surprise to see a completely unknown and random female grinning at me.

“You’re a cute little minx,” she said, “you do know that, don’t you?”

Consequence? I’m gonna have a bruise tomorrow, but it still made my day!!

Letting it go…

So, how was your Christmas?

I spent mine with family. Well, the few members that are still around, that is. Insert all the applicable clichés about over-indulgence here. Oh, apart from the drinking-too-much one. Obviously. Pay attention! Hahaha. If I were a car, I would have been swimming in a small pool of petrol (the overindulgence bit), and my engine would have seized up (should give you some idea of my levels of activity). Now, for some, that’s a dream come true. For me, unfortunately, it’s actually rather dangerous. While the brave amongst you are hitting the gym frantically during 2015 (until the end of January, anyway), I honestly have to get back into some very, very good habits pronto or there’ll be trouble…!

One thing I really did enjoy though was the time I spent with my family, even if it was just chatting, passing around damnably tasty (but deadly to me) chocolates, and watching films. And for us, there was one film that brought us together as much as it divided opinion… You know the one. The one with that song. One of the little anklebiters running around kept yelling “Le’ i’ ‘o, le’ i’ ‘o!!” at every given opportunity. Bless him. He’s only two…

Hmm. A princess with strange, potentially dangerous powers who is misunderstood by society and overly protected by her family who don’t understand her either – let’s face it, who can’t relate to that?!

The thing is, Society has lots of ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s. Actually, scratch that. It’s more like ‘do’s’, ‘don’t’s and ‘depends-what-mood-I’m-in’…s. Some of them aren’t even proper rules. I mean, will the world really implode if I wear black tights with white shoes? Probably not, but am I going to be the one to take the risk?

The problem then is this: with some of these rules (some of which aren’t even real), comes a lot of conflict. There are some rules that make perfect sense to follow – like “don’t jump off an eight storey building into a cup of water.” That one never ends well. Don’t kill; don’t steal: those ones are not just for the protection of others, but for us too. So, for instance, as long as somebody else is following the ‘don’t kill’ rule, you’re going to be pretty safe. Just to reassure you: I’m a big fan of that particular one.

But then you have the situation where Society decides to take it upon itself to decide what’s good and bad, outside of the common sense rules. Yes, there are some things that probably belong in the rules anyway; other things seem quite arbitrary.

Generally, when Society chooses an arbitrary thing and says ‘this thing is bad, evil, wicked, wrong’, an individual may well look at it and say: “Hang on a minute… I am that thing, but I’m not bad, or wicked or evil’, and that’s where the cognitive dissonance steps in. Suddenly, all these rules that you’ve been listening to all your life turn on you and bite you. And then gradually, you begin to accept that you must be one of these bad things that Society hates. So all those years spent following Society like an eager puppy, “Yes, Society. No, Society. Three bags full, Society.” – total waste.

And that’s when something happens. Snap. Now, it can go a number of ways… I can think of three off the top of my head. But the two biggest ways of dealing with being the thing you’re told is wrong are:

1) Your personality breaks up and bursts to form other little bubble-ish balloons, prettily floating off into the sky, dangling long ribbons as they mostly disappear from your grasp. Your personality kind of splits so that you have one which is the ‘good’ side, and one which is the ‘naughty’ side and one which is the ‘I’d-never-get-away-with-this-otherwise’ side. Maybe there’ll be a few more sides in the mix…

Or

2) Your personality decides to bury you alive. That part of your brain that has listened to Society for so long, turns around and says “Do you know what? Society’s right. You are bad. You are wicked. You need to be punished. Okay. Get the shovels, folks! We’re gonna have us a burial!” And it digs you a hole. And it pushes you in there. And it leaves you in there, as it walks off singing a merry little tune.

So, on the one side you have “I’m-going-to-be-all-of-those-things”, but then   on the other, you’re in that hole. Your brain shuts down. It’s decided you’re not going to be any of those things. You must stop being any and all of those things. You must stop being. And that’s dangerous.

That’s when you need to be lovingly pulled out of the hole. For someone to show you how to dust yourself down. For someone to show you the good parts and rebuild on those. To help you realise why the annoying little parts are there, so they don’t clamour for attention any more. So when the harpy voice of Society starts singing its theme tune, you can happily stick your fingers in your ears and go ‘Lalalalala’.

Or, if you took the other path, it’s for someone with compassionate hands to stretch up and catch all the best balloons and tie those ribbons together in one colourful knot. Tie them to your wrist, and set you off again, armed with the knowledge that you’ve kept all the best parts of your previous self; that you’re free from all the previous dross that Society gave you, pretending it was a gift.

Anyway, I’m off back to my ice castle now.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire