The exquisite and sadistic pain of writing a book

blood inkT.S Eliot once said that “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink” – this guy knew he was talking about. There is something truly masochistic about being a writer at times. You could sit down, all pumped up about having enough free time to bang out a few chapters but then your brain switches off and all you hear is white noise inside your head.

NO power on earth could give you an idea right now.

You’re more likely to have a Capuchin monkey jump out of your nose and slap you round the face.

I have learnt that inspiration does not take kindly to command performances, so instead I try to pretend I don’t need it. I try to trick my brain into thinking that things are going really well and I don’t at all regret adding that transvestite private detective in chapter four…

This unfortunately never works. This is because inspiration can also smell fear.

Getting a book down on paper is like catching Mexican jumping beans with your bully button. It’s harder than it looks. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I blame Daddyo for this. He used to tell me bedtime stories but always forgot where he left off the night before. Out of pure frustration I started to write them all down in a big notebook as a prompt. Which is when Daddyo suggested I start writing some of my own stories. I have been scribbling and typing away ever since.

What I love about writing is that you create a whole world that nobody else knows about. Characters, worlds and scenarios start to take form using the power of your imagination. You can commit murder, find true love, fight an epic battle – and showers are almost exclusively reserved for reenacting scenes and testing dialog. To the point that I’m pretty sure my boyfriend thinks I’m schizophrenic.

Unfortunately, with the onset of adulthood HAVING the time to write is a miracle in itself. With a full-time job as a PA and all my spare time gobbled up doing the other 355,000 inane little tasks I am required to do on a daily basis – it gets really hard to find a few moments out of my day to tell everyone to go fuck themselves because I’m doing something for me. So I write wherever I can. On toilet paper, napkins, my phone, notepads, on my palm and I bunch it all together and offer it up to the literary gods. My desk is a veritable shrine as I burn incense, light candles and all but smear on war paint and dance naked under a full moon.

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It’s exhausting.

But when all the planets are in the right alignment I can lose a whole day glued to my keyboard.

Two chapters become three chapters become four chapters.

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This feels a lot like finally dislodging a bit of apple from between your teeth using nothing but the power of your own tongue. Glorious. Inside my head, I’m making orgasm noises. Believe me – it’s a welcome change from beating my head against my desk.

The initial beginning of my book is entirely different from the beginning I now have. Which is a relief, because in retrospect the original was total crap. The upshot is that’s what first drafts are for. My problem was reviewing what I had written over and over until I never really moved past that page to the next section of the story. I was so hung up on being perfect that I didn’t let it all hang out and flow on the page. It’s SUPPOSED to be crap. Not totally crap, but there’s supposed to be about 77% of cringe in your first full draft. The point is writing the damned thing from beginning to end. Don’t stop, don’t look back, don’t review – just plow on until you reach that goddamn end then go back and review. That’s the best advice that I have ever been given and something I am currently sticking to as we speak.

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I want to throw my computer through the nearest window… but I’m being strict with myself and it’s actually working. All I know is I need to finish my manuscript. Even if it kills me, I am finishing this goddamn thing. I’ve reactivated my Watpadd account and I’m trying to get a decent chapter published on it by the end of next week. Something meaty that potential readers can get their teeth into until I manage a few more. You can find me under AnnieRoxlin if you ever decide you want to buckle up and join me on this particular emotional rollercoaster ride.

In case you were wondering, I decided on a ghost name because I’m deeply mysterious like that.

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wattpadd devlin succession

Excuse the initial shitness. Like I said, I just reactivated, started writing and I’m ploughing through to the end before I allow myself to glance in my literary rear view mirror. What you see now is what I believe is called “raw material.” Which sounds like a big, gaping, pussy sore – and I guess that describes it perfectly actually.

I have a handful of followers already. Only eight – but one of them seems to be a bit of an old hand at this, with 15 published works under her belt and 1.4k followers to boot. Amazingly she messaged me to say that she liked my work and was looking forward to reading more. This is both encouraging and terrifying at the same time.

I mean, no pressure or anything.

An actual author wants to read more of my stuff. How the hell did that happen?

It’s a good sign, right?…

RIGHT??!

Well, I guess we’re about to find out.

GCSE results day – Advice I would give my former teenage self

There is panic on the streets of England today.

Panic for a certain kind of people.

Teenage people.

This is because today they are getting their GCSE results.

Kids all over the country will find out if they did well enough to get into the college / uni of their dreams and pursue the career that they want, or alternatively will have to get a job at the local MacDonald’s and have lots of babies named after novelty alcoholic beverages.

As we speak, throngs of unwashed students are huddling like zombies around their former schools. There will also no doubt be teachers smugly wandering through the wasteland of their former students wearing expressions that clearly say “not my problem bitches!”

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while Fanfare for the Common Man blares in the background.

Students will then form distinct tribes. The most irritating of which is obviously the “I’M GOOD AT EVERYTHING” clique who  grab their sealed exam results like weapons in the Hunger Games cornucopia before sprinting to the toilets, where they spend the next two hours sobbing their eyes out, convinced that they have gotten bad grades and wont be able to live their dream of going to Oxford University to develop a coke habit. Only, they then open their results, find they have gotten all A’s and smugly spend the rest of the time demanding to see lesser students grades.

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This day is all the more relevant to me because Mini Maybe (my 16-year-old potential step-daughter) is getting her results. She’s really worried about what they might be, because her friends seem to be like something from Children of the Corn with straight A averages and coordinating 5 year plans. So, being the considerate potential step mother that I am – I tried to think of the right thing to say to make this day go a little better for her. With this in mind, I jotted down some advice I would give my former 16-year-old self if I had the opportunity.

Dear Young and Impressionable Blair,

Welcome to hell.

I say this with love.

Seriously, you think everything you’ve just gone through is the end of your struggles – and that now you are an adult life will be more fair and enjoyable? Think again. Say hello to taxes, heartbreak, betrayal, disappointment, weight gain, occasional boughts of alcoholism, megalomaniac employers, mean-girls that have turned into mean-women – and eventual death.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good bits.

But they either cost a lot or make you fat.

Love,

Your future self.

 

– Well, at least I tried.

Guess what?! We’ve moved house. Again *eye twitch*

Some of you have been wondering where I have been for the past month or so. I’m sorry I seem to have dropped off the face of the planet – but unfortunately I had some adult / real life responsibility shit to do.

Mr Maybe and I have moved house… Again.

moving day!

This is my ninth move since I first relocated to London. NINTH. In the last eight years!! And I’m done. This is it. I have drawn a metaphorical line in the sand. This is where I am and I shall go no further.

… For at least a few years anyway.

I hate moving. I hate it with a passion. It’s a whole other circle of hell inhabited almost exclusively by arguments, cardboard boxes and estate agents. You lose sleep, you lose belongings and you also drastically lose your standards of hygiene. I get so stressed out during moving time that my yearly quota of migraines happen during this period. Coincidence?… I THINK NOT!

My advice? If you can avoid moving – DO IT. That annoying thing your neighbour does? Not as annoying as anything you are about to get through. I promise you. Get over it and stay put. You will thank me some day.

The reason we are relocating (again) is Mr Maybe’s moving 16-year-old Mini Maybe in with us at the end of August – and we need the extra room somewhat urgently for all the fangirl posters we are about to inherit. Luckily we found somewhere not too far away from our original flat that was perfect for us. Didn’t even have to sleep on it. The unending quest for the perfect home was enough to make us briefly glance round and bellow “WE’LL TAKE IT!” before someone else took it. However, to complicate things further in our quest, we couldn’t just move in to the flat we finally found. Oh no, what would be the fun in that?! We would have to move out, wait two weeks and then move into our new place.

In the meantime Mr Maybe and I had to figure out what to do during our period as temporary hobos. Luckily for us, we had some relatives to stay with until we got our shit together again. To make this arrangement even better – they had two dogs. One called Billy with no concept of personal space:

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And a 10 week old dachshund called Paddy who was clearly under the impression that he was a Doberman with gigantic testicles.

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Move number one (the move from our studio to storage) was stressful… but a lot less stressful than it could have been. I think moving out is always the shit part. The part were you have to pack your life up, fill a truck with it, drop off keys, attempt to negotiate your deposit back from a tight-fisted landlord and try not to spurt blood from your ears in the process. I have no idea why this move was better than the others that I have endured, but then we did have a bottle of Jack Daniels on hand, so this could explain it.

I’m not going to lie. I felt a little smug about being bang on schedule. We were doing so well for time! We were being responsible, functional adults! We were taking that next terrifying step together by merging our household with my boyfriends offspring! We had managed to fit our lives in a van and transport it to a temporary holding pen until we repeated the process all over again! We even returned the keys on time!

Only… it was at this point Mr Maybe found his juggling sticks and got a bit distracted…

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Oh dear…

Fast forward two weeks, and it was time to move (again). This time from storage to the new place. Could we pull it off?

As it turns out – yes. In exactly eight hours of non-stop back-breaking work.

Here is a montage of the day:

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Mr Maybe – thrilled to be the Captain of his very own starship…


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Filling the van with anything that would fit inside…

Chucking it anywhere in the new flat…wpid-dsc_2635.jpg
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Getting lots of exciting new bruises in weird and occasionally disturbing places…

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And collapsing at the end of the day with just enough life left in us to crawl to the pub…

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Mr Maybe even took a break in amidst of all the moving chaos to help a little old lady across the road.

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 Which is just one of the reasons I love that man.

Our move was fulled by alcohol and determination – but at least it was a success.

And I’m definately not dead yet…

So hakuna your tattas people.

Allow me to introduce you to my spirit animal.

A few of the girls in the office were talking about “spiritual things” over their non-fat, non-carb chai tea the other day. They were trying to “out-spiritual” each other in their LK Bennet twin sets and blinding diamond engagement rings, chatting about their spirit animals, gap years in yogi temples; being rebirthed using whale song, burlap sacks and wooden spoons – and star signs.

My star sign is Scorpio.

You’d never guess it, because I’m so reserved and shy. But apparently I’m the one with the sting in its tail.

I have to say I’m not one for spirit animals though.

Each to their own, but I can’t picture myself as a spirit animal. Some of Mr Maybe’s favourite books are the Amber Spyglass series – where all the humans have a daemon (like a familiar). I tried to picture what mine would be. But I couldn’t.

Until I saw this cat.

spiritanimal

 

I’m pretty sure I’m onto a winner.

My abusive relationship with Pretty Little Liars

I have a seriously unhealthy relationship with ‘Pretty Little Liars.’
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Being an almost 30 year old English woman I’m not exactly the target demographic for American teen drama shows. But it turns out watching ‘The Origionals’ one afternoon while idly doing the laundry was the gateway drug – and now Pandoras box is open. First I was glued to ‘The Origionals’ then ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and now ‘Pretty Little Liars.’

As I watch these shows via Netflix, I have unlimited access to seasons worth of episodes at a time. This is not a good thing. On weekends I have been discovered still in my pyjamas at 7:30 at night by Mr Maybe, face smeared with mascara because some tragedy has befallen my favourite character or speed cleaning the kitchen, furious at some fictional injustice.

My relationship with this particular show is incredibly abusive. Because no matter how many times it hurts or dissapoints me, I come back for more.

It’s been six seasons for the love of all that’s good and pure, but I have more questions than answers at this point! Every time I think I know who the shadowy and psychotic ‘A’ is – suddenly the whole thing was a red herring. My whole carefully built house of cards comes tumbling down.
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Which is when I feel sad and need to go sit down for a while with a biscuit and a cup of tea.

Trying to explain the show to someone who is not a PLL afficionado is like trying to explain string theory to Kim Kardashian. It ain’t gonna happen without the aid of charts, visual aids, sock puppets and big arm gestures. And even then the person who innocently asked “so… what’s the show about?” will blankly look at you, shrug and say “okay.”

NO NANNA ITS NOT OKAY, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND – AT ALL.

And it’s not just me. Theres a whole Internet community dedicated to pouring over clues and dissecting characters in the show (a la CSI) in a futile attempt to reveal who the culprit really is.

Now that’s a bit fucked up.

Especially when you consider the pure dedication and time taken to concoct a detailed theory using occums razor, copious amounts of caffine and a cork board full of clues and red string that Scotland Yard would be proud of in the endless quest to answer WHY their favourite suspect could possibly be the deranged screwball running around a sleepy American suburb, terrorising a couple of young girls.

To be honest, I feel a bit sorry for American teenagers. Because if my recent viewing is anything to go by, they are the demographic most likely to:
– Turn into a vampire, werewolf, witch or other supernatural being
– Get hunted by a deranged killer bent on using their skin as a pair of pyjamas
– Have really stupid parents who are totally unaware of either of the above

The thing is, I have put so much time and effort into watching this show and getting sucked into the emotional upheaval of characters faking their own deaths and then coming back to life, getting kidnapped, being psychologically tortured, completing twisted ‘Simon Says’ esque tasks (plus the constant flirtation with the possibility of incest) – I cant quit now. For the sake of my mental wellbeing I NEED TO KNOW WHO A IS GODDAMN IT!

I’ve gotten to the point that I get irrationality angry at some people’s theories.

Especially when they are stupid. Some of them require teleportation or time travel – and I haven’t got time for that. There’s a KILLER on the loose people. Let’s take this shit seriously okay?!

I’m just hoping that the writers have an end game that will be worth the six current seasons of debate and dedication. Because six seasons in, we’re treading some dangerous ‘Lost’ territory here. If they chose to do the “it was all a dream!” / finale reveal that makes no sence at all (considering who has previously been effected by the evil machinations of said psychopath) – the fans may take to the streets and cause a riot while shouting unanswered questions at the sky.
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And I will be leading the charge.

Here are a few of the reasons why:

1. The body found at the beginning of the show was identified as the missing girl Alison DeLaurentis. Then we find out it was Bethany Young (an escaped mental patient) instead. A pretty big mistake for the police to make. Didnt they test the DNA? And if so, why didnt the results come back as someone other than Alison?

2. On the night Bethany Young was bludgeoned to death, Melissa Hastings mistook Bethany for Alison while she was busy burying the body to protect her little sister (Spencer) – who she mistook for the murderer (innocent enough mistake to make considering Spencer was wandering around, arguing with Alison while dragging a shovel behind her). If Melissa thought that Spencer killed Alison why would she bury someone else’s body? Unless Bethany looks identical to Alison because she is Alisons twin?

3. If she wasn’t Alisons twin or at least her sister – why the hell would Bethany Young look so similar to Alison to cause mistaken identity? And for that matter, why would she be wearing an identical outfit to Alison on the night Alison went missing?

4. Why did Alisons mother bury her when she found her daughter coshed on the head and apparently dead? You know, instead of calling an ambulance / the police like a normal person? Did she think Alison was Bethany? Or was she protecting Bethany who she assumed was the killer? Either way, that’s messed up.

5. Why doesn’t someone interrogate Mona for answers since she has been in on a whole clusterfuck of schemes, was the original ‘A’ – and is a genius. Even if she doesn’t genuinely know who ‘A’ is, with the IQ of a small continent she could make an educated guess as someone previously on the inside.

6. Doesn’t anyone find the fact Sarah went missing the day after Alison, was trapped in the dollhouse with the girls but never seen by them – and wasn’t even microchipped like the others a bit convenient? Sarah also seems to have had an entire personality transplant upon her dissappearance. Considering when she went missing she was as manipulative and nasty as Alisons former Queen Bee self.

7. Who the hell is Sarah Harvey? How is she connected to all this?

8. Who the hell is Lesli Stone – really? The spotlight of suspicion fell on her for a while, we discovered she was a patient at Radley AND has medical training (so she could be A, or Redcoat at least) but then we got distracted with the discovery of the microchips and she seems to have been forgotten. Why the hell is she wearing fake glasses? It’s a bit ‘Hipster’ of her isn’t it? If she calls herself Monas friend why is she so bossy and a total bitch to her:
“Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! I asked you to do one thing, Mona. One freaking thing! And you screwed it up. You screwed it up for me. You always screw everything up!”
— Lesli to Mona in She’s No Angel

9. What’s with the creepy clowns and dolls?

10. Who is Mrs Potter and why did ‘A’ leave flowers on her grave in ‘the new normal’?

11. During the snippets we see of ‘A’ he / she is doing things like watching the ‘wheel of fortune’, drinking and buying whiskey / vodka, is listening to jazz music, has a lot of money considering the motel rooms /large sums of cash/ elaborate underground lair /technical equipment etc – so wouldn’t it be safe to assume ‘A’ is older than the girls? Perhaps even a guardian?

12. Why are the police / adults so incompetent in Rosewood? ‘A’ was able to plant photographs of the girls that he took during their captivity on a gallery wall right underneath the nose of the lead investigator, the gallery organisers and one the PLL’s parents

What is going on?… And why do I care so much??!

It makes no sense. But what can I say? I’m addicted. All I know is that my favourite past time is yelling at the TV, working on my suspect list and staring at the Pretty Little Liars episode list until a new one appears.
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I have officially become the crazy shut in I always knew I was destined to be.

Thanks so much Marlene King.
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My mother’s worst fears have been confirmed.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate everybody. And I’m okay with that.

As I have matured over the years like a well-ripened cheese I have come to the conclusion that I hate everybody.

Well maybe not absolutely everybody. But mostly everybody.

And maybe hate is a strong word. How about resent?

Okay – I strongly resent 99.9% of the population.

As someone who spent her formative years working in retail / admin /corporate hospitality – and is now an executive PA you’d think (after my many years of exposure to various aspects of mankind) I would have a great appreciation for the human experience. That I would be anthropological in my outlook on life. But in truth I spend 100% of my day inwardly rolling my eyes during interactions with other people.

Thinking about it, I guess I’m what you might call an “equal opportunity hater.” I don’t care about race, age, religion or sexual preference – I will dislike you regardless of all that.

Nobody believes me when I say I’m not a “people” person. Especially Mr Maybe, who always says I’m the “kindest” person he knows.

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This depresses me, because quite frankly I’d rather be the sexiest person he knows. I mean, I doubt there has been a man alive who’s whispered provocatively in his girlfriends ear: “Oooh baby, you’re so KIND it makes me horny…”

Meh. I guess I’ll take it.

I can’t help thinking he’ll be in for a shock when I experience my impending psychotic break and eventually explode in a shower of tourettes-like swearing followed by running naked through the town centre. But there we go, that’s relationships for you. If you can’t have at least ONE psychotic break without being judged then you need to make good your exit my friend.

I understand this misconception though. After years of servitude I have developed this hospitality / client-facing façade as a coping mechanism. Only, I can’t shut it off. It’s like PTSD. The upside to this is I can cope with any situation without betraying how I actually feel at that moment in time. However, I think this façade has now become engrained in my personality in general. Maybe it doesn’t help that I’m English and middle class? Being repressed is probably in my DNA or something.

No matter how cheerfully I start my day with scented bubble baths or buddhist chanting the torture of public transport is enough to leave me seething as I reach either end of my commute. Most people seem to have NO spatial awareness. They will press against you, cut across you, push in front of you, blindly amble into you, stop right in front of you… They would probably even take a dump on you if they could get away with it.

I have OCD (actual OCD, not a mild dislike for things being out-of-order) – meaning I don’t like being  repeatedly tapped / touched in general unless I have given an engraved invitation. With this in mind you can imagine how much I hate it when someone gets on the tube and their suitcase, handbag or shopping is tapping against me for the whole journey. Even if I scrunch up foetuslike to stop this from happening, the moron with the tappy bag happily expands to fill the microscopic bit of space between us and I still get their crap bumping and jabbing me over and over all the way to work.

When I’m stressed and my OCD gets really bad, I need to tap the floor or the nearest surface to hand the same number of times someone touches me. If I don’t do this compulsive counter-tap I get the gut feeling that something very bad will happen and it will be all my fault. Like an apocalypse. Or Kim Kardashian being crowned queen of the universe. And I will hate myself forever.

Next on the list of my biggest pet-commuter-hates (other than those graceless sub-humans who sneeze and cough without covering their mouths) would be jerks who passive-aggressively bustle against me and attempt to shove-in the queue for the escalator. Man, woman of child – I don’t care who you are. You know how to queue. So get to the back of the line before I cut you.

Another cause for resentment are the thoughtless bastards sat down on the tube, avoiding eye contact regardless of an elderly person, pregnant woman or physically impaired individual in need of a seat. I really hope the favour is returned one day when they too have been ravaged by age or the strains of childbearing and have hemorrhoids the size of golf balls dangling out of their bottom.

You see? Under this sweet, well spoken exterior I’m a very grumpy person.

An old friend once told me that if I actually said what I was really thinking nobody would fuck with me. Which is probably true. But I would also be an unemployed social pariah.

Observe…

What I say v’s what I’m actually thinking

Me: Aww your kid is really cute

What I’m actually thinking: It looks like “sloth” from the goonies. But in a nappy. Get it away from me.

 

Guest at my flat: Do you have a toilet?

Me: Yes, just down the hall

What I’m actually thinking: No – we shit in the stairwell

 

Me: Excuse me

What I’m actually thinking: Get the fuck out of my way

 

Me: No, you don’t look fat at all

What I’m actually thinking: …You’re just blocking out the sun

 

*I come into the office and I’m drenched through*

Them: Is it raining?

*long pause*

Me: Yes

What I’m actually thinking: Dear Moron – Never have children, sincerely, the world

 

*someone sneezes*

Me: Bless you

*Three sneezes later*

Me: Bless you?

What I’m actually thinking: GET YOUR SHIT UNDER CONTROL

 

*I’m given more work to do*

Me: “I’ll get right on it!”

What I’m actually thinking: Jesus, what did your last slave die of?!

 

*in an interview*

Them: Why do you want this job?

Me: Because it would be an amazing opportunity and I’m sure I can become an invaluable member of the team

What I’m actually thinking: I have expensive tastes and no sugar daddy. Next question.

 

Me: Just kidding!

What I’m actually thinking: I have never been more serious in my life

 

*I’ve managed to fix someone’s computer*

Them: Wow, how did you do that?

Me: Oh, it was simple, don’t worry about it

What I’m actually thinking: I don’t have the time, crayons or sock-puppets available to explain it to you

 

Them: Could you make a note of that?

Me: Sure

What I’m actually thinking: Let me add that to the brimming list of other things I don’t give a shit about

 

*My boss asks me to do something*

What I’m actually thinking: *I repeat the request in my head in a high-pitched childish voice and inwardly stick my tongue out*

 

Here is another instance that leaves me gurgling with rage. I’m at work, we have a guest come into the office, I sit them down in a meeting room and ask them if they would like any of the following refreshment options:

  1. Tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Water

Which is when they turn to me and ask for a latte, a frappocino, tepid water (not hot… not cold, but inbetween), all of the above, some organic gluten-free biscuits – or some random herbal tea that I have never heard of.

Dear Guest,

I don’t know what people don’t understand about this arrangement. You have THREE choices. Does this look like a chain of Costa’s to you? Do I look like a frickin’ barista? NOW I have to google what the fuck you wanted me to make and try to replicate it using our decrepit little coffee machine that spits out two choices: espresso or Americano.

 

THANKS SO MUCH

P.S I HATE YOU.

Sincerely,

PA with better things to do

Maybe I’m just a grumpy old fart before my time.

I’d love to be in a position in my life where I can throw caution to the wind and say – “Honesty? What the hell, let’s see what happens!” But right now I haven’t got enough money squirreled away for that. Money might not buy you happiness, but it will buy you enough martini’s to do a good impersonation.

I want to be retiree-rich. But not poor retiree obviously. The kind of old-person-wealthy where you can live in a villa with a well-hung houseboy during your golden years and torture your relatives by making them wonder who you have left your stash to … Only to fuck them all over by leaving the lot to a cat sanctuary.

I want to be one of those glamorous old ladies with a tiny herd of poodles pulling her along like a chariot while I swan from brunch to lunch to happy hour in a haze of Guerlain parfam and inebriated cheerfulness.

Now that’s the life.