Seven lessons the new Ghostbusters movie would’ve taught the younger me

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The original Ghostbusters movie came out the year I was born, so evidently I didn’t see it on its release. I think I was probably about five or six when I saw it for the first time, and my main takeaways from it and its sequels were:

  • What the hell is going on with Dan Aykroyd’s character and that ghost?
  • I’m never getting in the bath again
  • Probably never gonna look at any portraits again, either
  • Women need men to save them
  • Lol, Slimer

I also had a weird crush on Egon.

We can all agree that they’re super fun movies, and ones people my age revere so highly no doubt because they harks back to a simpler time (when we didn’t have to pay bills, or get cars repaired, or deal with performance reviews, or confront the hellish reality of our political landscape). Perhaps this is why so many people have a problem with the reboot? They don’t want their pure memories of carefree childhood bought into the modern age, where everything is a bit shit? That, and misogyny.

In any case, I’ve been thinking about what Younger Rachel would have taken from the new version. Without confusing blowjob scenes, damsels in distress and bizarre and premature sexual awakenings to deal with, I think these would have been my key takeaways. And I challenge anyone who has a problem with the reboot to say – hand on heart – they wouldn’t want their kids to experience the same.

Own your passion

Erin is quick to dismiss her book on ghosts, because she’s worried it’ll affect her chances of tenure. Because she’s worried people won’t take her seriously because of it. Because she’s worried it doesn’t project the socially-approved image she’s worked so hard to create. But in the end, her passion ends up saving the whole goddamn city of New York. At the beginning of the movie, she’s hella uncomfortable with Holtz’s dancing, but it’s not long before she’s doing awkward aunty dancing with Kevin. She is her authentic self for having followed her heart. Do the same, Younger Rachel.

Tough times reveal true friends

There’s a line somewhere in the film that goes: ‘Okay, scientists! And Patty’.’ As Erin says, they weren’t really looking for another member of the gang. But it wasn’t long before she was assimilated into their clique. In another, ghost-free, world, would they have all formed this unlikely friendship? Probably not, but that’s just how it goes. Some of my very best friendships have sprung from the oddest places.

If at first you don’t succeed…

…make like Holtz and keep on trying. Every gadget needed a tweak here and there, and each led to the creation of a bigger and better invention. If she’d downed tools at the first hint of adversity, everyone would be fucked.

You can always learn from your elders… and from those younger than you

Don’t use age as a yardstick for wisdom. Look at Holtz and her ‘mentor’ at the end of the movie. Their scene together lasted about 30 seconds but in it they learned something important from each other.

Always question those in positions of authority

Look at what’s going on in America and the UK right now. How many headlines are borne of misplaced trust in politicians, law enforcement agencies, judicial systems and even the media itself? As the hapless mayor in Ghostbusters shows, people in power do not always have society’s best interests at heart. Younger Rachel; engage with these individuals, speak up and ask questions, but don’t take everything they say as gospel.

Men, though

I can’t be the only one who thought our boy Rowan smacked of Nice Guy. ‘Waah, life has been unkind to me so I’m going to react in a hugely disproportionate manner then they’ll be sorry.’ Kudos to the casting unit for choosing someone who looks so stereotypically jemble, by the way (if you have a problem with this statement pull up a chair and let’s talk about the character of Janine Melnitz – and indeed Dana Barrett – in the original movie). Younger Rachel, you’ll encounter a lot of pissbaby men in your adult life – and indeed men who masquerade as something else in order to fulfil their objectives. Don’t stand for it – send ‘em to hell.

Don’t leave your keys in the car

But if you do, it’s not the end of the world. As the movie showed, sometimes your biggest mistakes lead to the biggest successes.

Update: This post has been edited to reflect my memories from the original trilogy, not just the debut film. Thanks to everyone for pointing that out – this is how we learn.

Upgrading the meltdown

In May 2014, I went off the rails. I walked to the nearest hire car place in my pyjamas, threw my credit card at the bewildered girl behind the counter and spent a week driving around the UK, staying in bleak Travel Lodges, passing the evenings staring at identikit wallpapers and wondering why they had plants in reception when no-one could be bothered to water them.

Almost exactly two years later, and I’m in a similar situation. Mercifully this time I have my own car, so I’m not condemned to spend my time on the road listening to the one CD I found under the passenger seat on repeat (T’Pau’s ‘China in Your Hand’, hilariously). I’m also wearing actual clothes, and can report that I’ve been nowhere near a Travel Lodge. Meltdown deluxe, if you will.

Except it’s not a meltdown. Not this time. Yes, the catalysts in both scenarios are largely the same – people disappoint you, life goes awry, you get lost – but two years ago I was trying to run away from it all. It was a pretty futile exercise, really; as goes the old saying: ‘Everywhere you go, there you are’. It didn’t matter whether I was sitting in a roadside service station in Derby or by a river in Shropshire, my stupid brain, and all the anxiety and desperation and fear slamming around in it, was along for the ride whether I liked it or not.

And so, to now. “I can’t believe I’m in this place again,” I announced to myself between heaving sighs and moments spent consciously unclenching my jaw. But as I careen aimlessly through the Welsh Valleys and English countryside I realise that to disbelieve this fact is as ludicrous as disbelieving my hand in front of my face. Specific misfortunes are not like the chicken pox, unfortunately. Enduring them once does not make you immune to them again.

But, you do build up a resilience, and so my unscheduled adventure this time is less about outrunning the gremlins licking at the corners of my consciousness and more about talking them down. Not yelling at the barking dog but feeding it, walking it, brushing its coat. It’s time consuming stuff, but it makes the barking stop.

10 really easy ways to feel a little less shit when you’re feeling phenomenally shit

Grief, heartbreak, depression… whatever your melancholic poison, most of us find ourselves up against it at some point in our lives, and despite my irreverent and 100% always cheerful demeanour on social media, I myself have been plagued by the black dog since I was a teenager. And it’s fucking rubbish.

Hyperbole

Hyperbole and a Half

The internet is awash with self-help articles endorsing self-care and self-kindness in times of emotional turmoil, and these are largely great. But the fact is, when you wake up in the morning and simply cannot fathom getting out of bed, let alone doing functional human basics such as washing yourself and eating breakfast, signing up to purifying yoga courses or making gratitude scrapbooks can feel a bit above your current pay grade. I’ve no doubt that exercise releases a whole bunch of endorphins, and that cooking a meal from scratch is relaxing and fulfilling, but they’re not realistic suggestions for someone who’s really in a hell of a funk. These are, though:

  1. Nap ON your bed, not IN your bed

You don’t have to tell me how tempting it is to crawl back into bed once you’ve overcome the seemingly gargantuan task of getting out of it on dark days. But if bed is where it’s at for you at that moment in time, make a point of straightening the duvet out and lying down on top of it (you don’t have to fuck about with hospital corners or perfectly plumped pillows or whatever). This helps draw a line between day and night time, which is good for both your psyche and your propensity to get up and amble around a bit without feeling like you can’t because you’re hunkered down for the day.

  1. Organise your washing up

If you’ve got a load of dirty plates and mugs lying around, that’s good because it means you’re eating (high five). But it’s also crap because unless you have the energy and motivation to wash it up, you gotta look at a load of mess all day. Take just a minute to organise all the dirty stuff into a pile. Stack plates atop one another and take the used mugs out of the lounge or bedroom. You don’t have to wash it up right now, but by minimising the surface area it takes up – and having a neat pile ready for when you do feel up to it – you’ll feel more in control of the mess.

  1. Go outside

Even if it’s just for a few minutes while you smoke a fag or have a cup of tea. Or even just shove your head out of the window for a second. Get some of that D on your face and fresh air in your lungs.

Loneliness

A Zillion Dollar Comics
  1. Copy/paste replies to friends

I can tell when I’m on the cusp of a wobble because suddenly every form of communication from my friends seems like a huge infringement on my time and space – simply because I feel under pressure to respond. I know, right? How hard is it to type out a few sentences of chit chat? Thanks, depression! In any case, I’m hella lucky to have lots of good friends that check in on the reg, and so if I start feeling stressed out by that – or by that one unread Whatsapp that I know I have to respond to at some point but which continues to flash up on my notifications list like a fucking Windows 10 reminder – then I take five minutes to type out a generic reply along the lines of ‘Hey, today is not the one but I’m okay. How are you?’ and then blast it to all of them. It lets them know I’m not lying face down in a bar somewhere but also that I’m not feeling super chatty. They’re my friends, they get it.

  1. Put on some clean clothes

They don’t have to be clothes-clothes, like going-outside-and-functioning-in-society clothes, but just something that’s not pyjamas. Or more specifically, not the pyjamas you’ve slept in. Just something comfortable that doesn’t smell of night sweat and tears. For me, it’s usually a questionable band t-shirt and a pair of jeggings (I always said I’d never stoop to those, but here we are, I’m leaning into it). Hardly the attire of a consummate professional, I know, but if my mind is in the bin then the simple act of getting out of pyjamas and putting on a different, clean, comfortable outfit is a significant game-changer. This is why the whole ‘loungewear’ thing is doing such a roaring trade, I’m sure of it.

  1. Keep face wipes by your bed

I’m quite fastidious when it comes to my skincare regime, having spent the equivalent of a small country’s GDP on various Clarins serums. But on days when I just don’t give a shit and the faff of cleansing, toning and moisturising seems so utterly pointless in the grand scheme of things, I’ll haphazardly smush a cleansing wipe around my face before beginning my nightly routine of sighing forever into a pillow. Dr Jart would be horrified, I know, but a partially-cleansed face is better than one laden with the dirt of a day’s difficult existence (and more importantly, it helps you feel like you’re still in control of personal grooming basics).

Depression

Optipess
  1. Stretch

For someone with such an otherwise horrendously unhealthy lifestyle, I sure do like yoga a whole lot, and I think there’s a great deal of stock in the idea that we carry our emotions physically, particularly in times of acute suffering. Grief, sadness and anger can harden around us, especially if we spend hours on end curled up in the foetal position. Stand up, stretch it out. Just move to the other side of the sofa, even. Don’t let the blues get into your bones.

  1. Have some fruit

Eat a banana, dribble an orange into your mouth, mix your vodka with pear juice, whatever – anything to remind your body that it’s a living organism and not a grunting trash receptacle for bread dipped in anything runnier than bread.

  1. Have a glass of water

All of those tears have gotta come from somewhere, right? And even if you’re not physically crying yourself into a raisin, being dehydrated makes you crabby and sleepless and headachey, which is just a whole bunch of nope considering everything else you’ve got going on. Get your hands on a water bottle if you can – that way you can have it in bed with you / on the sofa / rolling around the floor of your kitchen as you lie face down under the counter.

  1. Download this app (or something like it)

For some people, sleep cannot come soon enough at the end of a difficult day. For others – like me – it’s an elusive fucker camouflaged by icky thoughts and unpleasant feelings that spring into action the minute my head hits the pillow. So out comes the phone and endless hours of scrolling in a bid to distract myself. I KNOW. This ain’t the healthiest way of dealing with things and yes, there’s no end of evidence to show that playing with your phone before bed is a guaranteed ticket to insomnia city, BUT, you gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get by, right? So, if you are going to dick about with your phone until exhaustion finally overwhelms you, some kind of blue light-inhibiting app will help take the edge off your already wired and overwrought brain.

 

Can we discuss the infidelity narrative around Lemonade for a second?

Lemonade

I’m not the biggest fan of Beyonce’s music. There, I said it. Send over the angry mob.

It seems that I never really grew out of my tortured alt-kid phase, so even now at the grand age of 31, times of emotional turmoil are more likely to see me lying face down on the floor listening to Placebo or Ill Nino than the heartfelt and empowering lyrics of Queen Bey. It’s just personal taste.

Nonetheless, I recognise that Beyonce is a fucking phenomenal woman, and an absolutely critical role model for all women during these dark times – few will take such a central place in the cultural history books than she, and her recent surprise visual album drop is testament to that.

Did Jay-Z cheat on her? No-one can say for sure, but the themes running throughout Lemonade – and of course the unrelenting media speculation – would suggest something was up. And she owned it. She took all the pain, anger, sadness and desperation of infidelity and turned it into a defiant masterpiece from which others can derive strength and comfort (which is unquestionably more important than the musical offerings of white boys whinging about their high school girlfriends). When life gives you lemons, make lemonade AND THROW IT IN LIFE’S EYES, right?

So this is the dominant social narrative to come from Lemonade thus far. But there’s another line of thought simmering away among the noise – one voiced by young women in particular.

“If Beyonce gets cheated on, what hope is there for me?”

A jokey, throwaway remark designed to get a few RTs, right? Maybe, but its underlying context nonetheless is that in order to be worthy of love and fidelity, you need to be rich, ultra-talented and gorgeous. That you always have to be your very best you (and then some) in order to enjoy some pretty basic relationship fundamentals, such as trust and respect. Come up short against these exhausting and relentless requirements and, oh well, what did you expect?

The focus of Jay-Z’s alleged infidelity has been put on her: She’s so hot and talented, what could she have done that would mean he cheated on her? And this is total, utter bullshit. His infidelity has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with him and his alarming lack of morals and yet the internet is awash with jokes about him being caught out – when really, he needs to be held to account – and, worse, commentary from young men applauding his ability to bed a number of hot women at once. There aren’t nearly as many bloody lemon emojis plastered over his social media accounts than there are on Rachel Roy’s (or Rachel Ray’s for that matter – idiots), but that’s an entirely separate – and equally problematic – issue.

Lemonade is Beyonce’s battle cry in the face of one of the worst betrayals the human heart can bear, and it’s vital that we shape its infidelity narrative (and all infidelity narratives) around the shortcomings of the cheater, not the cheated. Listen to the album. Listen to the lyrics. This is the message Queen Bey is pushing here, and one that even I, with my predisposition to whiny, introspective guitar bands, can derive great strength from.

Being 30+

Turning 30
Here’s a picture of me turning 30

About what honest-to-god feels like 10 years ago I wrote a post about turning 29, in which I detailed my many and varied fears about turning the big 3-0. I’m now 31. Am I a different person? No. Am I thinner? Do I have better hair? No and yes (I think. I HOPE). Despite what they say about your 30s heralding a brave new world in the life of you, I still have the same fears and flaws as I did in my teens, and in my 20s. I didn’t get into cooking overnight (come at me, Super Noodles), I didn’t start scheduling coffee dates with my BFFs (it’s still Saturday night oblivion or bust) and so I certainly didn’t wake up on my 30th having magically gotten my shit together overnight. But during my Oscar-worthy 20s and 30th year, I did learn this…

  • Despite the unrelenting avalanche of #content banging on about the many qualities of being an introvert, it’s okay to be an extrovert. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, vacuous or shallow; it means you enjoy other people’s company and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, BUZZFEED.
  • Everyone – EVERYONE – embellishes the truth on social media. Pictures of smiling couples and beautiful blue infinity pools and Friday office beers and adoring fluffy cats are the veneer of a regular chipboard life. Comparison is the thief of joy, and that cat definitely shat everywhere after that photo was taken.
  • This time next year you’ll look back at photos and be like ‘Damn, I looked good’. Five years from now you’ll look back at photos of yourself from next year and be like ‘Damn, I looked good’. I wish desperately that I could go back in time and visit myself at university and say ‘YOU’RE NOT AS BIG AS YOU THINK YOU ARE, CHILD. WEAR WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT. YOU SO HOT’. And no doubt 35-year-old me will say the same thing to me now. Here we are.
  • Laser hair removal on your bikini line. Make the investment. Thank me later.
  • If someone invites you to something, be it a wedding or a house party via Facebook, don’t leave it to the last minute to RSVP. RUDE. And send a thank you card where decorum dictates for fuck’s sake.
  • More people have mental health issues than you know. Seriously, like 85% of my friends are in therapy or on happy pills. People can be cagey about it but it’s amazing how freely they’ll talk once they know they’re among ‘crazy’ company. I compare my happy pill prescriptions to my friends’ in the same way you might discuss your favourite Hollywood actors. Normalising it makes us all feel loads better.
  • While we’re on the subject, don’t be afraid to give therapy a try. I’ve been in and out my whole life but had the pleasure of working with a wonderful mindfulness-based practitioner during my last year in London. I was a po-faced, arm-crossed bitch when I went in, but I came out with an open heart and a better understanding of myself than I’d ever had before. A+, would recommend.
  • Talk to your parents while you can. Where were they born? What was school like for them? What was their first boy/girlfriend like? What was the best time of their life? Look through their old photos, ask questions. It wasn’t until my maternal grandmother died that we discovered there was a whole other side to our family that we didn’t know about, and by then it was too late to find out more.
  • Take two paracetamol with a pint of water before bed after a heavy night out. It ain’t gonna save your soul but it’ll take the edge off. As someone who could sell her liver to a Frenchman for pâté, trust me on this. Also, sleep longer than you think you’ll need to. Hangovers when you get older are less about the booze and more about the sleep deprivation.
  • Sort your eyebrows out. Seriously, the difference a good pair of strong brows will make to your face is ASTRONOMICAL. If in doubt, go to a Benefit Beauty Bar. I can be tired and hungover as balls but 30 seconds spent doing my eyebrows literally transforms my entire face.
  • It’s totally okay to be affected by conflicting media narrative, especially when it comes to women’s issues. I’m 31. Are babies on my horizon? Not immediately. Maybe even never. You’ve got the bloody Daily Mail saying one thing and The Debrief saying another. Make up your own narrative. It’s your damn body and your damn life. Fuck those guys.
  • Invest in good tights. Not the three for £5 tights from Primark, but the £5 for one pair tights from M&S. I used to be a one pair/one wear kinda gal until I got woke to false hosiery economies.
  • You know how most hairdryers have three heat settings, and because we’re all so time-starved and impatient we crank that shit up to 11? Step off and turn down the heat. I have long, coloured hair and this simple act was legit the kindest thing I ever did for my barnet. My hair is softer and smoother, and because I was more mindful about my blowdries I’d make the effort to pin up each section as I went along. It takes exactly the same amount of time, I promise.
  • If you don’t like something about yourself, you’re free to change it without justification to anyone, regardless of (omg, here it is again), the social narrative. I got my teeth realigned a few years back. ‘But why?’ everyone chirped. ‘They were fine!’ Because I wanted to, and that is literally all that matters.
  • Nothing will ever prepare you for a friend request from a high school friend when you’re 30+. ‘Fuck me, how did they get so old? Are they old? Am I old?’ And not long after you’ll start seeing the laughter lines and wrinkles on all your friends’ faces and you can’t unsee that shit. Hello, ageing.
  • If someone describes you as ‘bossy’, own it. It means you get shit done.
  • Thanks to Hollywood it’s super easy to romanticise adversity, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. But remember, we’re not all trying to save the planet from destruction / outwit a band of Russian mobsters / get into dance school AGAINST ALL THE ODDS. Sometimes difficult relationships are difficult because they’re wrong for you. That’s cool. It’s not up to you to ‘turn things around’. Shit is shit.
  • Isn’t it funny how successful people younger than you haven’t worked that hard, but older people that are more successful than you are just lucky, somehow?
  • If you take your makeup off properly before bed – and that’s PROPERLY, not a quick splash of some water and a face wipe – then you’re doing okay and TBH that’s all anyone can ask of you.
  • Being 30 is harder for women than it is for men. Of course it is, thanks to the ol’ social narrative I described above (aaand that’s a hat trick). That’s not to say blokes don’t have their own issues, of course, but when they start cocking their head to one side and saying things like, ‘But I’m actually looking forward to being 30 – I don’t know why you’re worried’, shut that conversation down and take it elsewhere lest you end up kicking someone’s dick off.

What pearls of wisdom would you give to other ladies worried about turning 30?

Actually, it’s about ethics in journalism

Anyone who’s ever met me knows that I like things to be just so. Yeah, I’m that fun guy. That’s largely why I’ve not written a blog post for such a long time. Sure, I could wax lyrical about how busy I’ve been, which isn’t a lie, but the reality is I couldn’t in all good conscience write anything under the ‘Rachel in London’ banner when I am in fact no longer in London. ETHICS IN JOURNALISM, that. So, in the spirit of fresh starts, I have a new blog, so titled after the motto which has gotten me thus far in life. If you want to read about my London-centric adventures, which largely hinged on violent crime, extortionate drinks prices and idiots on the Tube, you can do so here. Otherwise, stick around for a raft of hot takes and engaging #content.