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All is OK, and Moving On November 17, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Depression, Family.
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Hush, little brain. Things are OK. Thank heaven for parents though.

I arrived back in the UK last week – I’ve never been so glad to see the rolling hills, to hear the copious pleases and thank yous (O America, how rude you seem!), and to rejoice in the wonderfulness of being back. I went straight home to see the parents, of course, and it was there that advice was expertly dispensed.

I had been questioning my relationship decisions since they were made, checking the boy’s Facebook page like an addict, and generally moping and whining. Which, you know, I’m fond of doing. And the parents made me realise that which I already knew… that expecting everything to feel the same after a trip like that was naive in the extreme. Time had passed, and I assumed because life was more fluid and different, that must mean I wasn’t in love. Turns out I am, quite a lot, but I nearly missed it because I got scared and presumptuous.

So, I think I have started mending things and fixing woes. I think everything will be OK. Better than OK maybe. Thank god for parents!

On another note, I think the time may have come to move on from this blog, to organise my life. I’ll still be blogging, but I’m going to do it somewhere else – I’ll let you know the link when I do! It’s just clean slate time… moving away from the depression and life that was on this blog, and starting afresh. I hope you’ll come with me!


Childhood Friends June 2, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Family, What I Wore, Wordy Business.
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One of the advantages of living in a small and relatively quiet neighbourhood is the fact that, as of yet, we haven’t descended into a fug of anonymity. My local corner shop recognises me, people smile at each other in the mornings, and children still play in the streets. Just the other day I was lucky enough to witness a group of 10 years olds clambering through the hedges collecting “pet” snails, and this evening I sat reading my book in the rec ground as a small crew of young teenagers played a little kick around.

The presence of children playing is, of course, absolutely lovely. However, what struck me in particular was that the budding footballers were made up of a team of brothers, and of a third boy who wandered over during play. He didn’t know them, just saw the game and came to join in. There wasn’t a hint of worry or shyness, he just started in, introducing himself as he went. Unhindered by the restrictions we feel when we are “grown up”, he just went out there and made friends without blinking.

As a child, I didn’t have that courage. In social situations, although I did generally make friends, I needed prompting. I was awkward and unfamiliar, standing quietly observing on the outside of a group before getting involved. I wasn’t crippled by shyness, but it certainly put up a barrier, a division that I had to try to breach quite consciously. A deep dive into my imagination could blow the barriers away like dandelion seeds on a breeze, but otherwise I had to consciously force myself away from inaction.

In many ways I still feel like that absent individual, standing on the sidelines trying to work out how to fall in. A room full of unfamiliar faces can, for a brief moment, cripple me. The difference is that as time has passed, as I have grown and changed and come to like myself, the move to dissipate the fear happens faster.  I smile at someone, or make a joke, or comment on something they are doing. Sometimes, in unfriendly situations, I can feel myself tagging onto people who are “nice”, scanning the room but always choosing to come back to that friendly face. I am chatty, I network, I am brave. In my head I may question whether I am left out, whether people even like me, but on the outside I am the friendly gibbery one who will chat to strangers and start conversations. A shy girl in an un-shy body.But still, watching those children, it is amazing how free they are. Innocent, unassuming, unhindered by the assumption that the person they are speaking to, playing with, won’t let them join in.

Pink legs!

Anyway, totally unconnected, an outfit shot from yesterday. Pale pink tights aren’t great if you want to have “thin” thighs, but they are fun for feeling like a princess – or as Cie said, like Alice in Wonderland! I also seem to be having trouble finding a decent face too, so you’ll have to settle for slightly awkward poses – but I wanted to share the dress nonetheless.

On painting and passion May 26, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Art, Family, Photos.
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Peony Painting

Been paintin'

My mum has always said that I need a creative outlet. I need some form of self-expression that gets the gremlins out of my head, that pauses the whirring thoughts and ever-twisting cogs, letting me calm down, relax, stay as the me I know and love.

You see, I’m naturally quite a creative person, and yet at the same time I have a rather large side to my personality that is built on logic. The stubborn side, the realistic side, the part of me that doesn’t like getting carried away with my whimsical Piscean ways! The two sides, although obviously both pretty large components of my personality, can clash, and when that happens I can mentally work myself to the bone, with neither time to breathe nor recharge.

The only was to fix this fragile frame of mind is to make sure I give myself a release. I can do lots of exercise, I can write a story, or as was the case last night, I can sit up late into the night and paint until my heart’s content. Hence the painting above, a peony, for a particular someone in my life (who I doubt will mind it ending up on my blog first). And you know what? After sitting and painting until way past my bed time, I had the best nights sleep I have had in months.

It just goes to show – mothers are always right.

RIP Little Ratty Muffin March 30, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Family.


Muffin the rat

She's on the left... the fatty ratty!

Just had the poor little lamb put down, held her in my arms as she slipped away to meet the Death of Rats (don’t know what I’m on about? Read Pratchett…). She was a wonderful little thing, sweet and funny and affectionate, and I will really miss her. Even the presence of incredibly beautiful vet man didn’t stop me from shedding tears and making incredibly tasteless jokes to take the pressure off!

Now, because I appear to be unable to stop crying, and because I really want a hug, I am instead going to take myself for a walk and then buy myself some Ben  & Jerry’s. Needs must.

As for Muffin, I have just one last thing to say…



The many challenges of pets March 24, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Depression, Family.
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Sometimes I feel like  don’t really have much of a heart. Some things that should simply don’t get to me – when my last rat died, it was a bit sad, but that was it. In the rest of my life, I rebel against sickly romance. I don’t see the magic in the Mona Lisa.

Then something will come along that makes me realise that sometimes, I care desperately. I will see something, generally in the most unexpected place, that speaks to me of such beauty. I will cry myself to sleep because a song is so magical. And when a pet I truly love is dying, I will find it hard to cope.

Muffin is my favourite rat. She has a fat belly, and bingo wings, and the softest curly cream hair. She likes to snuggle, and she will lick you out of affection. She is beautiful, and loving, and I love her. Now, however, she is dying. Under her arm she has a big tumour, and her mammary gland has been replaced with a huge pink tumour that has split. She smells of rotting, yet whenever I approach the cage she bounces up to the bars, licks my fingers just like before. Se tries to chew my jumper into a nest. She doesn’t act like something dying.

I don’t know what to do. Part of me thinks I should put her down, She is dragging an open wound underneath her, she smells like death. Yet can I make that decision? She stills seems so loving. I can’t do it and I don’t know what to do. It is heartbreaking. Who are we to play some semblance of god, of Kali? Do we have the right to take that away, make that decision?

Larking it up in the Lakes March 8, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Family, Life, Chatter & Politics, Photos.
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Well, I have just had the most wonderful birthday weekend.

Usually I am a bit of a bummer about birthdays. I wine, and complain, and generally end up being disappointed. However, this year in the spirit of actually having adventures and doing things that make me happy, I arrange with some of my nearest and dearest to take a long weekend away in a cottage in the Lakes, and lo and behold it actually came to fruition! And so, with some minor problems getting our rental car (read: debit card eaten by angry ATM machine, resulting in tears and fisticuffs before dawn), we finally got on the road heading up to the tiny little hamlet of Butterwick, near Ullswater in the Lake District.

And what a fabulous time was had by all. Friday night was, if I am completely honest, spent in a drunken fuzz that was so bad I put myself to bed relatively early – the only way to spend the first night of your holiday wind down! Thankfully there was no hangover the next day, but instead there was a walk around Penrith, clambering the castle, visiting a somewhat disappointing market, and then settling at home with enchiladas and much drink. In fact, thanks to my cousin’s fabulous drinking game, we all managed to party and laugh into the wee hours.

Sunday was a more sedate experience, strolling out to Haweswater to sit by the lake and snack on yet more sugary foods, before waiting for our lift back. We even got to know the local Red Cross, as poor Jasmine tumbled from a stone wall, and needed an ice pack to nurse her old skiing injury back to something resembling a normal limb. Still, despite the problems we all managed to enjoy a fabulous day, with a big pork roast (with all the trimmings, and probably some extra!), Chinese lanterns, and a sky full of the most magical amount of stars. It was amazing, utterly calming, and brilliantly romantic. I just wanted to lie out on the grass, watching the stars twinkling above, tracing constellations in the air.

Of course, beautiful things like this have to end, and so it is with some reluctance that I have returned home. As I type I am wishing that I could be back in that calm place, with nothing but the sound of water trickling, birds singing, and the occasional sheep bleating in the background. I miss it, and the people I was with, desperately, and hope that an equally wonderful weekend was had by all.

And for your viewing pleasure, some photos…

Playing Whack-A-Mole may have kept us far too entertained, and made us far too violent...

Unfortunately I didn't actually get to see any red squirrels...

My new hair, for those who enquired...

The view of gorgeous Haweswater

And, finally, Ullswater herself, now my favourite lake!

Dressember Days 25, 26 and 27! A catch up! December 27, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Dressember, Family, What I Wore.
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Around Christmas all I want to do is avoid the internet. Despite my dependence on the net year round, Christmas is a time to be with family, and for me that means technologically isolating myself in a sea of wrapping paper, card games and grossly large meals. However, it seemed worth popping online to show you my three missing days of Dressembering!

Dressember Day 25 What I Wore Long Sequined Maxi Dress

Day 25

Christmas day I felt like dressing up, and so out came a dress that I was gifted by the ever lovely Roisin. It fits beautifully (and makes my boobs look humongous, a rare feat indeed!), and I kept the rest of the outfit simple with tights to keep my legs warm. As I didn’t leave the house, I didn’t need any shoes!!

Dressember Day 26 What I Wore Long Black and White Lace Dress Vintage

Day 26

Day 26 was, it seems, a day for posing. Then again, I have seemed to have spent most of this Christmas relatively trollied (my parents poured me Sloe gin in wine glasses, for god’s sake!), and so the acting silly may have something to do with that! I love this dress though, although not as much when I put a jumper under it, which was what I did when I braved the OUTSIDE WORLD for an hour or so. In order to avoid more unsatisfactory outfits, I shall simply have to stay indoors for the rest of winter!

Dressember Day 27 What I Wore Seasonal Vintage Dress
Day 27

And finally, today, when we travelled up to the salubrious parish of Weston-Super-Mare to take the grandmother out for her mini-christmas. She insisted on staying up there rather than coming round for Christmas, so we had to make up for it somehow. After tottering around the icy pavements in my least sensible shoes (well, we were only walking about 10 metres!), I filled up on vast amounts fo food, and now am resigned to the sofa in disgrace over my greed. The perfect end to a Christmassy day! As for the outfit, I was cheery, sparkly, and downright seasonal!

Christmas and loneliness December 21, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Depression, Family, Life, Chatter & Politics.
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I love Christmas. I love the snow, and the crisp coldness. I love sitting in front of the fire, watching the flames dance in the grate and the coal spark and crackle. I love the travel, watching a DVD on the train as I wind my way along the stunning Devon coastline. I especially love the smells of the spices, the fruity tang of mulled wine, the sweetness of Sloe Gin, and the delicious buttery goodness of Christmas lunch cooking in the oven.

However, despite all the wonder of the holiday season, it is also a time for people to be alone. I find that in the build up to the big day I start to feel lonely, start to realise just how much of my time is spent alone. What is silly is that I will see friends, I will even run out of time to be myself, and yet still I will somehow manage to feel slightly down in the dumps. I suppose it could be that the SAD kicks in around about now, the darkest time of the year, when the long nights stretch out well into the day so it is dark in the morning and dark at night. However, I think a certain part of it is to do with the fact that  Christmas is a time for love, and if you don’t have anyone to love you then you become more aware of it than you ever have before.

Please don’t get me wrong. This isn’t actually a mopey grumpy post about isolation and misery. I have so many friends around me, I am wildly happy being single – but sometimes at this time of the year it would be lovely to snuggle up under a blanket with someone special. Hearing all the plans of the couples that surround me (I am the only single person I know around here at the moment, a particularly strange feeling!), I am bitterly aware that my plans worry about me and me alone. Freeing, most definitely, but not perhaps the most conducive to the Christmas spirit!

Still, a few weeks of feeling slightly lonely has actually shown me that I made the right decision ending my relationship. To be fair I have never doubted that for a second, but it is nice to know that in months of singledom I only really get lonely at extreme times like that, and also that this loneliness is nowhere near as bad as I felt when I actually was part of a couple. In comparison, this sort of mopeyness is easy to deal with, but when you look at someone and all you feel is regret and guilt, then that is a worse place to be.

Of course, I have to be careful not to forget all the good bits that were part of my relationship. Certain lies, events and bitterness post-breakup have given what was a loving relationship a sour tint, and sometimes I look back and wish that none of it had happened. I can see it brimming, this feeling that I have changed so much since it happened that I can’t understand it, that I have to battle to keep the fondness and good memories alive. Perhaps if there is anything I learn from Christmas alone it should be this – relationships past, present and future are all a major part of what makes me, me. The opposite of rose tinted glasses (muck tinted?!) is just as bad as over-optimism.

Hmm, did that post make any sense at all? It was a bit of a verbal splurge on the page, clearing out the cobwebs of my mind! Apologies!

Welcome to the Collective November 24, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Family, Meme, Wordy Business.
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At the pub last night, I got into a conversation about the wonder that is the collective noun for a group of animals. You know – a bellowing of bullfinches, a battery of barracudas, a parliament of owls, a murder of crows, a shiver of sharks – the list goes on an on. It got us to thinking, if there were a collective noun to represent each of us, what would it be? It ought, really to be based on our foremost characteristics – our personalities, our looks.

As such, I proudly present our first three contributions to the mix!

A stumble of Laurens

An embarrassment of Riches

A consideration of Nics

It also got me to thinking about what some of my nearest and dearest would be called, were they to travel in groups…

A sweetness of Roisins

An intelligence of Lysys

A paling of Carys’

A drive of Nathans

A flame of Carolines

A giggle of Helens

A nattering of Nommis

A fondness of Lauras

Welcome to the collective guys!

What would your noun be?

A Wonderful Life November 21, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Depression, Family, Inspiration, Life, Chatter & Politics.

2010 has, to put it bluntly, been a bit of a bitch. It has seen breakups, and fights, and hurt. It has seen broken hearts, depression, and mind-blowing loneliness. However,  weekends like this are the sort of thing that make it all worthwhile. The sort of time that just makes me realise how absolutely fabulous my life is, and how nothing in the world could make me give it all up!

I began the weekend with a lovely date night on Friday, a night that made me feel sexy and funny and just generally good on so many levels. That was followed by a casual saturday strolling through town, drifting into the charity shops and trying on shoes so coated in glitter that they could easily blind you if you were to look straight at them! After snuggling up in Starbucks with lunch and a brilliantly good book (Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan), I traipsed home, where I snuggled on the sofa to read more, before I was joined by the thoroughly gorgeous Helen for a long over-due catch up.

We chatted, gossiped, and giggled the night away. It has been so long since I have had a proper chat with her, and it was so much fun to be able to enjoy dinner, wine and cocktails in town, all the while knowing that there wasn’t such a thing as too much information, and that neither of us would ever judge the other for our drunken behaviour. I wore my Irregular Choice “No Pace Like Home” shoes, sparkly red beauties that make me feel like Dorothy the moment I put them on. I glittered, spangled, and clicked my heels throughout town, making friends and losing at American Pool against 10 lads on the way. Well, not losing actually, I certainly thrashed a few – but I didn’t win!

Today, remarkably hangover free, I enjoyed a long lazy Sunday lunch with the people who have, between them, been the reason that Leamington is so much my home. I couldn’t imagine this town without them – without the conversation, the hugs, the fun and the friendship. I honestly love them so much, I couldn’t dream of living in this town were they not there with me. Knowing that we have so many plans to meet up and enjoy life together makes me feel like I really belong, and like I would be missed were I no longer around!

Finally, tonight I head into Birmingham with the lovely Sarah, to watch one of my favourite bands, Jimmy Eat World. I am practically bouncing around with excitement, and cannot wait to see those beautiful songs being performed on the stage under the hot bright lights.

In short, what a wonderful life I have. What a heady, delicious, hilarious life.