Unpretty Thoughts

Guest post: What lock-down looked like to me

By Kath

My friend and favourite fellow blogger, Christa asked me to write a guest blog for her blog (ahead of her Blogtober series) – on whatever I liked. She suggested lock-down as a subject – and being that I haven’t written very much on my own blog for a while, I’m glad she did. I’m not sure I’d come up with very much if left to my own devices right now.

To be fair to me, I do mostly write about new movies and books I’ve recently read – and for a good chunk of this year there have been no new movies (certainly not while the cinemas were closed), and I’ve just not been able to concentrate properly on a good book while all this has been happening.

If any of you have been checking in on my blog this year you’ll have already seen what I have been up to during lock-down, and the months that followed but I will try and do a round up for those of you who don’t know me, or those who just haven’t kept up with what’s going on with me.

It’s been a weird old year for me. Firstly, I moved house. The housemate I’d been living with since my last landlord died – forcing me to move out so they could sell my flat – needed some headspace and kindly gave me 6 months notice to move in October last year.

However, I managed to find an ideal flat within 4 months and moved out in February. Good thing too as come March we were all locked down. It was partly a really good thing I moved when I did, firstly because I think my housemate and I might have killed each other had we been forced to spend lock-down together 24/7, but also because if I’d left it any longer I might not have been able to move until, well around now I guess. Which would have been nearly a year rather than 6 months after he’d given me notice to move.

But going from living with my housemate, and having company whenever I wanted it, to suddenly not only living alone but also working from home full time too, it was rather isolating to say the least. I was grateful to still have a job though, when many people were either being furloughed or laid off completely. It meant my days still had structure, and more importantly, I still had something to DO for 8 solid hours each day.


I also:

Started a new TV obsession

Some time ago, a friend of mine sent me the first series of a TV show she thought I might like – Outlander. I’d never got around to watching it and so thought now was the time. Within about 5 episodes I was hooked. I devoured all 5 seasons within 3 months and then started on the audio books – as I can listen to those while I work. I’m currently on book 7 of 8 and am thoroughly down the rabbit hole.

Joined several virtual “watch-alongs” with groups of friends

Three nights per week I simultaneously watch a show of our choosing and chat along with the group. So far we’ve worked our way through The Stranger, Dirty John Season 1, Unforgotten, Dead to Me, Wisting, Self Made, Good Girls, The Society, Knightwatch, The Golden Girls Season 1 – and most recently, Des.

Took part in a regular pub quiz

I take part in Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz on Thursdays and Saturdays with two different groups of friends.

Joined a writing group

Last but not least, I joined a ghost story writing course and met a fantastic group of women writers. We have now formed an off-shoot of the main group where we meet virtually two nights per week to do writing sprints – 10 minutes then a chat – 20 minutes then a chat/cup of tea – 30 minutes and then a final chat before signing off.

I cannot begin to tell you how much being a part of this group, and all of the others I mentioned, has meant to me during this mad, bad year. As well as having Covid to cope with I also lost my mum this year in her battle with dementia. All of the people I have mentioned above have helped to support me while I come to terms with her loss, all the while not being able to see anyone and get within 2m of them to give me a much needed hug.


I have no doubt I’d have lost my marbles this year if it weren’t for all the amazing people in my life keeping me sane. So I want to say a big shout out to those of you who have helped, no matter how small you think your contribution has been. It’s meant the world to me, so thank you.

How have you all been coping with lock-down?

Feel free to ramble at me like I’ve just rambled at you all. You’ll find me at Lady K’s Movie Dialogue.

Image of woman with laptop by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash 

Friends of the blog

In a bid to stoke the creative fires I’ve asked a couple of my favourite bloggers to guest on here over the next few weeks. My brief has been very casual: “Write whatever you like” but I did suggest a lock-down flavouring.

Maybe that’s just me being selfish, I want to know how other people have been coping since March.

Expect gems from Jill, Meghan and Kath – all writers I greatly admire. I don’t know what they all have planned – and it doesn’t have to be themed at all – all I do know is they’ll be good reads and I like good reads.

In the meantime, if anyone chances upon this post and feels like sharing something, just drop me a line and I’ll probably share it.

All topics considered except Trump/J.K. Rowling appreciation or any sort of bigotry.

Who’s in?

The other side

Today’s post is brought to you by Chelsea Peretti* and this deeply relatable tweet:

Sometimes it takes a six line pep talk from a stranger to get you back on track. This one is decidedly Wiccan and I needed it.

Manifestation is part and parcel of the Wiccan faith and picturing ourselves already living the lives we want is a powerful tool – so like Chels says: when I start to feel like I’m drowning, I’m going to visualise my way through it.

Right now I’m struggling to imagine what this time next year is going to look like, and anxiety (hello, old friend) is sending me on the path to pure catastrophe – which isn’t the one and it certainly isn’t helping anyone.

The Other Side, with that in mind, is going to take some training to visualise, especially in relation to the day-by-day ethos I’ve been practising since March. Luckily, I have nothing but time to work on changing my thinking. First stop, what I want it to look like.

I’m sure I’ve pondered before all the things I would do once lock-down was lifted and I’m not even sure I’ve done them yet. I’ve hugged my friends obviously but not as ferociously as I’d like. We’re still tiptoeing around physical contact and it still feels awkward. Plus nobody’s on the same page.

I’ve been to dinner once and the cinema too but I haven’t run into town like a madwoman and I haven’t climbed a mountain or run naked through a meadow (yet). I don’t even know if the things I want are the things I used to love.

Course I still love books and films and wandering down alleyways looking at graffiti, that could never change but maybe I’m less concerned about ASOS deliveries and fast fashion and pubs with people I don’t even really like. Harsh maybe but the last six months has shown me who I need in my life and it’s a smaller, richer pool.

I think if nothing else, this year has reinforced the feeling that I need less but want more. When we’re healed and the economy is back on track, I want to do more with the skills I have. Believe in everything I’ve achieved and get myself out there career-wise.

I want my home and my family and my friends and my cat. I want good food and blankets and afternoon naps and laughter. A decent wage and a job I can stand with people I like. I don’t need three dresses for a tenner or statement necklaces at great cost (even though they’re like, my thing).

I don’t even need holidays or handbags, expensive make-up, festivals. I want a good life and the wind in my hair and to know I make a difference somewhere in the machine, even if it’s miniscule.

You’re going to have to forgive these freeform blog posts for now, they’re the only way I can untangle the mess of my mind and feel better. Yeah I know right, poor me with a job and a roof. But you know what I mean, it’s tough for all of us in different ways.

So that’s what I’ll be working on this weekend and next week: a vision of what I want the other side to look like. I hope it’s simpler, stronger and more peaceful. Maybe it will be quieter too and that’s okay.

What do you want from ‘The Other Side’?

*I mean, not really. She didn’t write the post or anything. Thanks for inspo, Chelsea, love to your husband.

In the air tonight

Autumn is just around the corner, I can smell it. Although, Summer has had one last hurrah the last couple of days by throwing us 27 degree temperatures which makes me want to puke. After work yesterday I had such a bad headache from the heat that I had a cold bath and went to bed at 9.30. The ultimate rock n’ roll lifestyle.

I’m just not built for hot days, it’s the mutant ginger gene that does it (probably). I look around me on Summer days and I envy the people born for those conditions. So effortless and floaty – I’m just angry and red for three months straight.

Luckily we’re at the tail end and Autumn is when I come alive again. It’s such a basic bitch thing to say but it’s all about cosy knits, tights, boots, crunchy leaves – bright, dry crispy days. Fall chic – groundbreaking. For me it’s about rebirth and inspiration – I just can’t get enough.

I do wonder what it’s going to be like this year though while we’re still part-time hermits facing a potential second lock-down. I want to be a hermit, don’t get me wrong but I feel more isolated now we’ve moved out of central Brighton. I’ll continue my campaign to get myself out at least once a week though and we’ll see. I’m hardly going to deny myself leaf crunching in the park while chugging Pumpkin Spice Lattes, am I?

Anyway, I’m currently mapping out Blogtober 2020 which is getting the creative juices flowing and in the lead up to blogging every day I’m going to try and write as much as I can. I might even try seriously committing to NaNoWriMo this year, even though I was supposed to have written my first novel in lock-down and be on to my second by now. I’d really like to do something remarkable before the end of this messed up year. Maybe my remarkable is going to be surviving it in the first place? Who knows.

Work have actually paid for me to do a copywriting course so I’ve got that to focus on before the end of January. When I’ve done that and my secondment comes to an end, I think I’m going to focus on finding a new job. Which might be easier said than done in a recession but stranger things have happened. Ideally I’d like to work in some sort of mental health capacity but with writing involved – I wonder if such a job exists out there, just kicking its heels waiting for me to rock up? Or maybe I’ll have to make it a thing myself.

I guess in all this it pays to still be hopeful that things will heal and get better – that we’ll come through the other end better people because we’ll understand what’s most important to us. In itself it’s a privilege to have the luxury to think like that, not everybody is so lucky.

Anyway, these are just the ramblings of a woman who should be working.

How are you?

The apocalypse is boring

Anyone else just feeling completely fatigued right now? I’m so tired at the end of every day, emotionally drained and feeling like a printer running out of ink.

Sometimes, I just want to sleep all day and that was never me. I’ve upped my napping habits to every day of the weekend and it’s lush and decadent as fuck, but I actually feel I need it emotionally, which just empathises the impact the last six months has had.

And I’m one of the lucky ones who has still been able to maintain a routine, still work and interact with colleagues. My husband has been furloughed since March and now been made redundant, and I feel for him.

Everything is so uncertain and hard, like we’re wading through treacle just to get to the other side – but the other side keeps moving.

During times like this I find comfort in being cosy and if I’m honest, slapping on a positive face. Faking it until we make it. Trusting that everything will eventually work itself out and manifesting a better tomorrow in my mind’s eye. Things will heal and so will we all but everything feels just a little too much now.

There’s not much purpose to this post beyond getting these thoughts out. Despite the stiff upper lip, I’m also trying to be honest about negative feelings where usually I would sweep them away. To accept that it’s okay to struggle and have serious doubts and be scared or numb or angry. To feel what we feel.

I’m learning that dropping a quote about positive thinking is all well and good but that feeling shit is as legitimate. That toxic positivity is a thing and it doesn’t always help the situation.

So, I feel anxious about the future, about jobs and money. I’m still struggling with socialising but at the same time I miss people so much. I miss my colleagues massively and sometimes wonder who the hell I am if I can’t see myself reflected in others. That one is hard to explain.

But we’re all feeling a variant of this, aren’t we? Not one of us has been unaffected by the crisis this year.

I’m just going to own these feelings for now and treat myself, and Glynn, as nicely as I can. Autumn is just round the corner and cosiness is key. We’ve got a new sofa and Autumn is spooky story season.

Blogtober is also on the horizon and I’m hoping a post a day will kickstart my creativity. It’s hard to blog when you’re not doing much besides contemplating your navel and catastrophising.

How are you? (Really)?

Eve’s Bayou

Another gem from the Horror Noire list and this one is delicious, I tell you. Written and directed by the wonderful Kasi Lemmons – best known in my heart as Helen’s BFF in the best film ever made – it follows the trials and tribulations of the Batiste family as they deal with the infidelities of their patriarch, Louis.

Read More

Why Wicca?

It’s a good question, isn’t it? Why Wicca and not Buddhism, or literally any other religion? Well, while Wicca may be a religion, it is also a faith you can tailor to your own beliefs and it’s that kind of fluidity that I need in my life. Read More

Atlantics

You may recognise this week’s film from my Horror Noire post last month. Jill picked it and I for one am delighted. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I read the synopsis and now it’s here… well, read on and I’ll let you know exactly what I think. Read More

Take Up Space

This weekend I tried on one of my favourite dresses, one I haven’t had the chance to wear out yet. Despite my husband’s best efforts and a hefty dollop of elbow grease, it wouldn’t zip up. I’ve already sized up in some items over lock-down and here I am, clearly another size bigger than the larger size I’d already accepted. Read More

The Housewives & I

Reality TV has got such a bad rap over the years and is often looked down upon for not being exactly high brow. I have mixed feelings about it, not because I’m too good to watch it but because some of it really stresses me out, infiltrates my dreams (more on that later) and at times, is all I want to watch. Read More