There are a few things in life that make me feel a bit unsettled. Uneasy. Unnerved. Here are some of them.
1. The cat watching me get changed. There is something very anxiety-inducing about disrobing in front of the judgmental gaze of a cat. The way their head shoots round to analyze you the minute you undo a button. That slight widening of their eyes as you take your top off in front of them, suggesting utter shock that you’d even consider being naked in the same room as them. The presence of a cat while getting changed makes me feel really quite awkward to be honest. Mine likes to stare, unblinking, at my body parts as if considering a new species for the first time. What are those? What the hell is that? He has no pretense of hiding the fact that he is quite openly staring at my naked body and judging it, harshly.
2. Finding Disney characters attractive. Yes, I have been known to make comments about how lovely Flynn Rider in Disney’s ‘Tangled’ is. The fact that he is an animated character constructed by pixels does not take away his charms. The typical bad-boy turned good aura about him, combined with those stunning chocolate velvet eyes, makes him quite attractive to me. Of course this one can be blamed on Disney, portraying unrealistic expectations of men to young girls since we first started watching films. The male Disney characters sing to girls, for Gods sake, of course a girl who has only been bought a box of chocolates by a boy once is going to find them appealing. So, in terms of men, it makes me slightly uncomfortable that the ideal romantic persona exists only within animations an voice overs. (One final justification is that they also always have nice eyes and hair.)
3. Public Transport Conversations. It really is sweet when people make the effort to be friendly in a place which is so often full of people terrified to make eye contact for fear of imminent conversation. But sometimes you just want to slump in the corner of the train and your iPod. When a stranger settles opposite you and breaks the public transport conventions by making lots of direct eye contact and seeming extremely interested in whatever you’re doing (You open your bag, they crane their head to watch with a smile), you know that you’re going to have to pull out those earphones soon and engage in a little chit-chat. Some people just want to offload a lot of personal information onto a stranger. I know, for example, the life story of a 23 year old girl I’ve never met, from birth to graduation, because her grandmother once related it to me on a train. Although I do find public transport conversations quite refreshing, there is something undeniably awkward about it, especially if you’re going to be sat with them for a while. Do I ask questions? Do I smile and nod? Do I really have to tell them the personal information they’re trying to probe from me? They could be a stalker…No, they’re really nice. No! They’re asking what stop I’m getting off at, and where I’m heading to after that! Move carriages, quick.
4. Cooking. I just don’t trust myself. I get far too OCD about following recipes to the point where I’d remove a lasagne from the oven at the precise recommended cooking time even if it was still partially raw. I constantly question myself when chopping vegetables, panicking if my courgette slices don’t look to be the exact same thickness as the ones in the recipe book picture. I get flustered about timings, watching a pot of spaghetti simmering on the stove out of the corner of my eye whilst I Google whether it’s possible to get food poisoning from pasta. I made a batch of brownies today (packet mix, I cheated) and decided to be adventurous in my cooking for once. I mixed in half a pot of chocolate fudge icing into a chocolate fudge brownie mixture. I don’t know what went on in that oven, but what came out looked almost like I’d melted a thin layer of plastic over the top of the gooey cakes though the edges remained dry. I think the addition of the icing mixture had done something awful to what would have probably been a trayful of reasonably acceptable brownies. They’re a bit chewy, and a bit burnt. My mum came home to find me proudly brandishing a plateful of chocolate fudge treats at her, having tactfully hidden the most burnt ones beneath the ones that look more edible. She said they tasted okay but I could see the disappointment in her eyes. I’ve let my mum down, I’ve let myself down, but most of all I’ve let Betty Crocker down.