My new blogging home is over at http://www.catherineelms.co.uk. If you’re already subscribed to this blog via email, you’ll automatically be subscribed to the new one too, so don’t worry. If you’re subscribed via RSS feed, you might need to manually change over. See you over there! 🙂
Both this blog and my website (catherineelms.co.uk) are currently in stasis for the next week while I finish putting together my brand new website! Please be patient while this exciting (but bloody fiddly) change takes place. Remember you can keep in touch with me on Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram!
BTW if you’re subscribed to this blog, you’ll be automatically subscribed to the new one when it launches too 🙂
The 13th issue of my perzine, Here In My Head, is out now! 40 pages, 1/4 sized.
On shyness, social anxiety, self-esteem, privilege, confidence, sharing your voice and struggling with adulthood. £1 retail (free postage), or get in touch for trades! Buy a copy by clicking on the button below* 🙂
I am also very excited to be tabling at Queer Zine Fest London on Sunday 1st December, so any London peeps can pick up a copy there!
* – I’m putting the ‘buy now’ link here instead of on my shop page because my website is currently in stasis while my partner and I are redesigning it (and it’s taking AGES – I wish these things didn’t take so long, but I guess that’s how things go when you do everything on a shoestring budget).
I performed at Mozarts for the first time this month, which was such a good gig! I was incredibly nervous, my hands were shaking and my mouth kept drying out and I’m not sure I performed at my best, but I got through it despite my nerves, and got lots of positive comments. Plus, the organiser Sera told me my music reminded her of Kate Bush! 🙂 The following week, I played a great gig at Jack Murphy’s in Swansea (above), and although I was nervous there too it was a really good set, and the other acts were really kind and complimentary. Unfortunately I’ve been ill for the last 6 weeks or so (such a pain!), so I’ve taken some time away from gigging while I recover and am currently spending some time back in my music room working on new songs.
I’ve struggled a little lately with feeling really nervous when I’m on stage; I think it’s because I’ve felt kinda ill and so haven’t been at the top of my game, and I worry that people will be disappointed by my performances. I feel really bad that I have to take some time away from performing live, but then again I’d rather play a really good set when I’m feeling healthy than muddle through when I’m unwell. My next gig is in a fortnight, and I hope to be feeling better by then.
My friends and I finally finished putting together Sonorus: Feminist Perspectives on Harry Potter! You can buy a copy from the Sonorus website. It’s turned out to be such an amazing project, and I’m thrilled to have been a part of it. We’ve sold about 50 copies in the first 2 weeks!! 🙂 I’m currently working on the 13th issue of my perzine, which I hope to complete before Halloween (an apt issue number, I think!).
I’ve read a few more lifestyle design ebooks, including ‘Operation Creative Career Cheer‘ and ‘20 Ways to Create Your Best Life Ever‘ (above). I’m finding them pretty inspiring, and they’re quick cheerful reads. In terms of booky books, I’m currently really into ‘The Shining’. I’ve never read the book or watched the film before, so I’m new to the whole thing. I love Stephen King’s writing, I always get so drawn into his books! Next in my to-read pile are ‘House of Leaves’, which I started ages ago and desperately need to finish, and zinester Maranda Elizabeth’s debut novel ‘Ragdoll House’.
Due to my illness, I’ve been spending a lot of time snuggled up in bed or on the sofa watching loads of Netflix! I’m currently watching bits of Doctor Who, Buffy, Hannibal, Agents of Shield, and Stargate Atlantis. I could spend my entire life watching films and TV shows and still feel like I haven’t watched enough; I also want to find the time to start watching Orange is the New Black, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Sherlock, and Torchwood!
Some things that have made me happy recently:
– Starting a goal journal. It can be very difficult to keep track of all my goals and accomplishments regularly, especially during weeks when my day job has tired me out and I want to crawl into my bed every evening, so I’ve started writing everything down in a dedicated goal journal. I keep track of what I have to do this week to work on my goals, what I’ve done recently that I’m proud of, plus any inspiring quotes or tips that I find. Mine is a little Paperblanks notebook (above) – perfect for carrying around in my bag. I love it.
– My birthday! I’m not very good around my birthdays usually – I feel like it should be a fairly big event, a day where I do everything I want to do and am happy from start to finish; anything less than that feels like a big let-down. Unfortunately it never turns out that way, and sometimes the pressure to be happy and stress-free for one pre-set day can make you more acutely aware of stress and bad feelings sneaking in. Anyway, this year’s birthday nearly ended up the same, especially as I had to work on the day, but thankfully it ended up being one of the best birthdays I’ve had for years. My darling bf surprised me at work with a bouquet of flowers and a picnic hamper, and we went for a delicious picnic with all of my favourite foods at lunchtime! It was amazing. Afterwards we went out for an Indian with my family, which is a big treat for me as I never have Indian food due to my IBS! I was unwell on the evening of my birthday (not IBS related) and went to bed feeling kinda glum, but otherwise it was a good day.
– Zine fests! I tabled at Bristol Comic and Zine Fair last weekend, which was mostly good fun, although I did feel pretty out of place alongside the professional comic artists and illustrators. I’ve managed to secure a table at the Queer Zine Fest London in December, which I’m so excited for! My friends are coming with me, and we have all pledged to have a new zine out by then to take to the event!
– Watching TED Talks! I used to waste a lot of my spare time on my iPad not really doing anything, mostly just refreshing my social media apps. I decided to delete some apps (Buzzfeed was the biggest time-waster), and vowed to stop stressing about reading ALL the tweets in my twitter timeline. Instead, I started watching TED Talks when I had spare time. It’s been such an amazing change! TED Talks are great – they’re usually around 12 minutes long, and are a great introduction to a subject. I’ve learned a lot from them, and feel I am edifying my mind more than I was reading articles with titles like “10 cats that look like Miley Cyrus”. Check out my YouTube channel for my recent favourites!
– Looking forward to Halloween! It’s my favourite holiday, and I’ve changed my Twitter name to celebrate 🙂
It’s my birthday at the end of the month! I’m so excited, I always get really excited for birthdays and special occasions, especially when there are presents involved. (by the way, if anyone wants to buy me a little present, my amazon wish list is available here.)
To celebrate my birthday, all my zines on the website are BUY ONE GET ONE FREE until MONDAY 30 SEPTEMBER (cheapest item free)!
I don’t appear to be able to do any sort of fancy discount code using Paypal, so when you buy a zine, just write in the sellers’ instructions box which other zine you want included for free. Check it out here!
The Not Sorry EP is still available to buy as a physical CD for full price, but you can now download a digital copy for FREE at my bandcamp page! This is a permanent thing and not a sale thing, to prepare for my new material being released, which should hopefully be very soon! (I know I’ve been saying that for weeks, but life stuff keeps getting in the way)
A perfect description of introverts! Any abusive people will get referred to this comic from now on:
And here are some links to blog posts I’ve enjoyed this month. 🙂
This honest trailer for Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman & Robin’ reminds us why this movie killed the franchise
On Internet Friends and In-Person Friends, Or As They Are More Commonly Known, “Friends”. http://www.themarysue.com/on-internet-friends-and-in-person-friends-or-as-they-are-more-commonly-known-friends/
As a Whovian, I was very excited to hear about Peter Capaldi playing the 12th Doctor! Here’s The Mary Sue’s take on the casting. I personally am thoroughly enjoying all the YouTube/gifset mash-ups of Malcolm Tucker shouting at Daleks and Cyberman; that’ll see me through to Christmas.
Revenge porn is a frightening and disgustingly misogynistic internet phenomenon. Feminist blog The F Word wrote a great post about it last month, which you can read here.
Did you hear about the #twittersilence thing that happened about 3 weeks ago? A number of prominent female twitter users, notably spearheaded by Caitlin Moran, left twitter for a whole day as a response to Twitter’s poor handling of misogynistic trolling and bullying. Feministing wrote an excellent article about why responding to abuse with silence doesn’t work.
I’m loving the Letter Writers Alliance blog right now! Here’s a great article of theirs on the etiquette of replying to penpal letters.
This article really resonated with me and my friends – on why women should try not to first and only compliment each other’s appearance.
What men mean when they talk about their “crazy” ex-girlfriend: http://girlsgetbusyzine.tumblr.com/post/57698005652/what-men-mean-when-they-talk-about-their-crazy
I love love love this. Soc Images blogs about a great example of the way that women, but not men, are sexualized in our society. In this case it’s a series of American Apparel ads. I know, low hanging fruit. This example is extra great, though.
Have you ever wondered why heart attack victims on TV and film are always male? The answer is incredibly interesting! http://monaeltahawy.tumblr.com/post/57830364188/except-you-cant-show-a-topless-woman-on-tv-and
I found this great comic on conversations about sexual harassment on twitter the other week, check it out!
This article is a bit old now, but really fucking good – on why Ross Geller from Friends was a total ‘Nice Guy’ creep.
This is why it might not be a good idea to assume that people who use rape threats online don’t mean it:
What have you been reading this month?
I played at the Uplands Music Festival last weekend, which was awesome! The venue was a wee bit quiet during my set, but as always the small crowd there were very supportive and enthusiastic. I also played a few other successful gigs, which I wrote about here and here. I’ve got 2 lined up for September at the moment; check them out on my ‘live’ page.
August was the month of the minizine! I got the feminist minizines I made with my friend Eleri reprinted on lovely coloured paper, and have been giving them out for free with zine orders:
I also created 2 new minizines – one for my friend Nat, who’s moving away to Canada, titled “Things We Will Miss About Nat” (inside page pictured below), and one titled “Beauty Comes In All Shapes and Sizes” to put inside beauty magazines and teen magazines; I hope it’ll help its readers feel a bit better about not looking like an airbrushed model.
I’m currently working on issue 13 of my perzine, which I hope to release next month in time for Bristol Zine Fest, where I will be tabling!
I’ve felt a little rushed off my feet this month with all the various bits I’ve been doing, and the extra shifts I’ve been doing at work, so unfortunately haven’t read as much as I would have liked. I did read an interesting book called Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction – I haven’t huuuugely enjoyed any of the Very Short Introduction books I’ve read, but I was given a free copy so thought I’d give it a go. I actually found it quite a frustrating read, as the (white male) author claimed that witch hunts were NOT rooted in misogyny, and that radical feminism’s claims that they were are just “horror fiction”. I find this a bit perplexing, especially as he confirmed that 85% of victims were female, that women were seen during this time as “inherently evil”, and that the Malleus Maleficarum condemned women as “an evil of nature”. Of course there were other societal factors at play, but I think the fact that the vast majority of victims were female speaks volumes and should not be overlooked!
I love this dress! I very rarely spend money on new clothes for myself, but I found this on sale in Miss Selfridge for only £10 (down from £60)! It’s black and lacy and I adore it.
I’ve started getting into wearing less black and more neutral colours – I love the way my new red hair pops against those muted tones. Here I’m wearing a pale blue shirt, a dark green denim skirt, and my pewter DMs. My mirror is not very good for selfies, so not sure if you can see this all that clearly!
Black summer dress, blue denim shirt, pewter DMs. (Shamelessly posing next to a picture of my face on the Kit Launch billboard, ack)
Some things that have made me happy recently:
– Hitting week 4 of Couch to 5K! I’ve been doing this running program for a few weeks now, and although I’ve been struggling and have felt very frustrated with my progress at times, I’ve finally broken through a wall and made it to the halfway point. I can feel my stamina and fitness improving, which is amazing and so encouraging. Running gives me such a clear sense of achievement, and it makes me feel unconditionally proud of myself in a way that my other pursuits often don’t.
– Being invited to play a gig at Mozarts this week. I love the venue, it’s so cozy and the atmosphere is supportive and friendly. I’m genuinely more excited than nervous about this gig, possibly for the first time ever!
– Celebrating my one-year anniversary with my bf last weekend! We’d both had a tiring week so instead of going out he cooked me a romantic meal and bought me a bouquet of red roses 🙂 what a sweetie.
– Dying my hair pillarbox red! It feels good to get back to red after a few weeks of copper. Read about how I did it here.
– Writing new music again. I hadn’t made time for writing for months, partly due to laziness and partly waiting for some dramatic sort of inspiration to strike (you know, that whole “I can’t write when I’m happy” trope?). Actually, as unromantic as it sounds, to create art you have to turn up at the page – i.e. sit down at your desk and write, not wait until you want to write. I’ve been setting aside time every few days to just sit with my notebook and write, practice my song writing skill like I would any other skill.
– Feeling the cooler weather return (unpopular opinion alert)! Our summer was nice, especially as I got to experience the sunshine during my booked annual leave; alas, I am an autumnal girl at heart, and am looking forward to the cooler weather, longer nights, and crunchy leaves, not to mention my 24th birthday at the end of this month! 🙂
Some of the different colours I’ve had in my hair over the years.
I haven’t seen my natural hair colour since I was 15 – you can check out a partial timeline of my hair dye adventures here. So if you want advice on how to dye your hair, you’ve come to the right place.
Whether this is your first solo dye adventure, or you just want to read more about how to do a good job, hopefully this blog post will be useful. This guide is a how-to for permanent vibrant hair – for semi-permanent or tinting, you can skip step 1 and go from there. Here was my hair when I started:
Let’s do it!
You will need:
1. Bleach for pre-dying and roots (optional)
2. The hair dye of your choice
3. An old black t-shirt
4. A crappy old towel you don’t mind ruining
6. Hair ties and grips
7. Plastic bag or clingfilm
8. Mixing bowl and dye brush (optional)
9. Surgical gloves
Step 1: pre-lighten and bleach roots
The brighter your base colour is, the brighter the end result will be. Depending on your budget, you can either get your hair bleached at a salon, which is easier and safer (but very pricey), or do it yourself with a home-bleach kit. Here’s a good guide on home bleaching. Bleach to blonde for best results. Make sure your roots are the same colour for even coverage – if you have long hair, do your lengths first, leave in for 15 mins, then do your roots. Rinse out thoroughly with shampoo for bleached hair!
Step 2: apply dye
Apply a thin layer of vaseline around your hairline to prevent the colour from running into your face. Apply dye using a pair of gloves (usually provided) and a dye brush. Apply to dry hair. I like using a dye brush and mixing bowl because it’s easier to be neater and make sure everything’s covered, especially when it comes to your hairline, but you can just use your hands if you want. Rub it in well, and make sure you cover every inch evenly, from root to tip, separating off sections of hair as you go. Wear an old black t-shirt to stop dye getting on your back and shoulders.
Step 3: tie up hair
Tie your hair up in a knot, and pin any layers up with kirby grips. Cover your hair with a plastic bag or clingfilm. This helps lock the heat in to help the hair take up the colour, and means that you won’t run the risk of dripping dye everywhere as you get along with your day!
I find these biodegradable bags perfect – they’re a good size, they’re soft so don’t scrunch every time you move, and we always have plenty lying around for our food bin. Pin in place with more kirby grips around the hairline.
Step 4: wait!
Leave in for as long as you’re willing to, the longer the better! Before I worked full-time, I used to leave the dye in overnight. If you’re doing this, you need to wrap the hair in plastic, and then wrap the whole thing up with a towel. This is to make sure that the dye doesn’t rub off onto your pillows when you move around at night. NB: this only works for colour dyes that contain no peroxide or bleaching agents, so check the ingredients first!
Step 5: rinse and condition
Rinse well with lukewarm water. The hair will be quite stiff or sticky if you’ve left it in for a while. Apply a moisturising/colour-keep shampoo, rinse and repeat if some stiff dyed sections remain. Apply conditioner, leave in for a minute or so, and rinse thoroughly. Use a crappy old towel to towel-dry. Most dying guides tell you to rinse until the water runs clear, but that’ll never happen with vibrant dyes! Just rinse until it feels soft and clean.
Good brands to use (UK):
– Crazy Colour. My brand of choice. I find they last really well for semi-permanents, are very cheap (around £2.50 per bottle) and they leave your hair super silky and soft! I used Crazy Colour Fire Red in the photos above.
– Stargazer. A wash-in-wash-out brand, which works well if you’re after something temporary, but not so well for anything longer than a week. Widely available in most goth/alt shops in lots of different colours – good for experimenting with what suits you.
– Manic Panic. You can only order this online, but it’s good stuff, and comes in loads of beautiful colours. Not as much staying power as other brands though.
– Rusk Scream. Fucking AMAZING stuff, the best I’ve ever used – it left my hair super shiny and silky, and the colour lasted for such a long time! Unfortunately it’s now been discontinued, but you can still find them sometimes on eBay or Amazon. Can’t recommend enough!
– Schwarzkopf Live XXL. These come in semi-permanent and permanent varieties, and are available in major UK supermarkets and cosmetic shops. These can’t be left in for much longer than the recommended time though – optimum development time is around an hour.
On choosing a colour:
– Pink/red is the most long-lasting shade. You will basically have to bleach this out, or dye dark brown over it! Pink/red dye also is the most prone to staining, even if your hair is dry! My whole bathroom has a pinky tint where I’ve flicked water off my hair in the shower.
– Blues are the hardest to keep in, but they are beautiful, and worth the effort).
– Green dyes of any kind will fade to a limey, halloween-witch shade of green if you don’t keep on top of them (though you may like this colour, of course!).
– If you want multiple colours at once, apply conditioner to the part of your hair that you don’t want to dye, in order to prevent the colour from running.
– Don’t want to bleach? Try using the colour wheel. I will admit that I have had very limited success with this, but others have been more lucky!
And finally, a note on Kool-Aid:
Kool-Aid makes a decent semi-permanent tint, so works best on light hair. There are lots of great examples and tutorials online. However, it doesn’t actually result in a particularly vibrant colour, especially if you already have a vibrant or dark colour in your hair. I used cherry Kool-Aid on my hair last month for the first time, and although it made my hair smell very nice, it barely changed the colour at all. If you do use Kool-Aid, there are lots of different ways of treating it before slapping onto your head – I mixed it with colour-fast conditioner and it worked very well, with no stickiness. Kool-Aid is probably a better option for my US readers who can get hold of Kool-Aid cheaply and easily; it’s good for a laugh, and smells so yummy!
The last few days have been really busy and hectic, it’s been wonderful. First, on Friday night I performed at 2 separate gigs – first, at The Red Room Bar & Grill VIP launch, then at The Masons Arms acoustic night (big change of pace!).
The Red Room gig went well – I played a laid-back lounge set while the VIPs mingled, which was quite unlike anything I’d done before! It was a good experience though, a good opportunity to showcase some of my more ballad-y original songs, plus my friends and I got to take advantage of the free bar (not too much though, as I had to drive home afterwards!).
Afterwards I performed at local rock bar The Masons Arms, which was lovely as always! I love playing there, it’s such a nice atmosphere and the staff and regulars are always really friendly and supportive.
My friend Lisa was staying with me for the weekend, so she came along and cheered for me on both gigs – thank you! We went for a run together the morning after, which made me feel totally energized and pumped. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who willingly goes running in the morning, but here I am! My teenage self would be in awe of all I’ve accomplished this year, but especially in terms of my fitness.
During the afternoon, we went out for a picnic and a walk with Daf and Toby down Kidwelly Quay. The weather was good, and we had a lovely time chatting over our veggie al fresco buffet.
That evening, Lisa and I went out for food and drinks with my best friends Kirsty and Caitlin! It was a wonderful night of epic tweeting (the official hashtag was #feministrumclub, though this later descended into #feministrubclub, #feministvomclub, and finally #feministslumpclub), too many cheap tequila shots in La Cantina, blurry sweaty selfies, dancing, kissing, smoking, drunken bathroom stall confessions, and eventually, vomit. Another cracking night!
Of course, in the morning we were all feeling dreadful, and all but one of us suffered the dreaded 2-day hangover. We introduced Lisa to the glorious Uplands Diner breakfast, and then went back to my place where we slumped in front of the sofa drinking tea and watching Orange is the New Black. After we regained our faculties and were able to hold a conversation, we sat down over our travel guides and started planning out our epic trip to Japan next year. So many exciting ideas, it’s going to be an incredible experience! 😀 Sickness aside, it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday.
I had a full day of work on Monday, so didn’t get much chance of rest there. Then on Tuesday I performed at the Scarlets Kit Launch in Parc Y Scarlets! It was pretty scary to hear my voice fill such an enormous venue, but it went so so well. My voice held up really well, and I managed to pull off some family-friendly pop covers that were outside of my comfort zone, including Katy Perry and Rihanna. It was awesome! I met local radio star Tommo, who gave me a cwtch and told me he loved my music!
Then I dicked around in the photobooth with my wonderful friends who came down to support me:
It was a brilliant night, and even though I felt completely underprepared and nervous, I put on a good show. Hurrah! I’m really really proud of myself.
I feel as though the last few days have been so busy (especially when I’ve had to work at my day job all day, so not much chance to recover there either), albeit fun and pretty exciting. It felt good to get home late Tuesday night, put on my PJs, and eat a chinese takeaway with my boyfriend while we listened to Welcome to Night Vale. (I’d be a rubbish rock star, it’s all early nights and geeky podcasts at my place.)
For info on all my upcoming gigs, check out the ‘live’ page on my website.
I’ve mostly been reading zines this month as part of my International Zine Month blogging challenge for Spill the Zines (check out my blogs here)! But here are some bits and pieces online that have taken my fancy this month:
Former prostituted woman Rachel Moran rebuts the ‘happy hooker’ myth. Chilling description of child prostitution.
Amazing photoshopped covers of book titles with a letter missing! I love ‘The Handmaid’s Ale’!
Brilliant, thought-provoking blog on The F Word about romance, misogyny and emotional abuse.
10 Non-Costumed, Non-Powered Female Heroines http://www.themarysue.com/10-uncostumed-superheroines/
Melissa McCarthy consistently outperforms US comedy’s leading men. Remind me again why ‘women aren’t funny’?
Do you want to look at a tumblr photo set titled ‘Dogs Wearing Socks‘? Um, OF COURSE YOU DO.
Awesome article from The Fementalists about rape culture and the experience of being triggered. This is a great reminder of the severity of what “being triggered” feels like.
My best friend Kirsty wrote a piece on the SFN blog about representation of single women on TV, check it out!
@yesyouresexist is my favourite new twitter account. Woo! Postfeminism! Feels… an awful lot like prefeminism. http://feministing.com/2013/07/03/quick-hit-yesyouresexist-is-my-favourite-new-feed/
Do you want to know why so many women treat all men as potential rapists? Read on.
Sharknado sequel ideas – need I say more? I think my favourite is “TSHARKNAMI: The ‘t’ is silent but deadly“. Bwahahahaha.
An interesting discussion about why the Simpsons isn’t nearly as good as it used to be.
I love love love this – Things That Aren’t Said Enough to Fat Girls. I want to print out a copy of this body-posi rant and put it inside every teen magazine!
This is fucking disgusting. A Norwegian woman who was convicted after reporting her rape in UAE has now lost her job due to her “unaccepable and improper behaviour”.
I adored this moving article on the importance of keeping going despite suicidal ideation. Favourite line: “To make this world a better place, we have to live. We have to do something bigger than death when we’re alive.” wp.me/p1CZxo-B1
This is so cute! Best kids cosplay at #SDCC2013 http://www.themarysue.com/kids-cosplay-comic-con-2013 … Although there were lots of great cosplayers at Comic-Con, I’m not sure anything can really beat this Sharknado hatted cosplayer:
What have you been reading this month?