I began to rip up magazines and stick them into blank notebooks when my mum made me chuck out two years’ worth of ELLE magazines when I was 16. All 24 issues were stacked downstairs in my conservatory and remained virtually untouched after they’d been read once, save for the occasional rainy Sunday afternoon. They were so pristine, so thick, so full of fucking adverts that I couldn’t bear to give them up. Fast forward a few arguments, and I eventually gave in to The One Who Gave Me Life – but not before ripping out all of my favourite pages. I then discovered one of the small joys in life: Turning something really high-quality into something really funny and a bit shit by ripping things up and rearranging them.
I enjoy scrapbooking so much because it works better the less you think about it. I’ve kept up the practice of it for years because it helps me de-stress, with the added bonus of having created something at the end.
Writing doesn’t quite have the same effect. Writing is lots of thinking about things that exist inside your head; editing your writing is all about shaping your work until it’s as perfect as it can possibly be. Scrapbooking gives me a chance to work with images from old magazines and use my hands, to create something to no brief, that’s allowed to be a bit terrible. It doesn’t work if I overthink it – the end result always looks like I tried too hard.
I’m usually happiest with the final page when I have a vague-ish plan to glue things down a certain way, and then accidentally rip the paper in the wrong place, or flip the paper over at the last second to reveal a completely different image. This always seems to work better, as it mirrors what the process of scrapbooking is like for me: messy, fast, thoughtless and unpredictable. How fitting that the techniques behind my favourite hobby share the same traits as my decision-making process!
It’s also something that takes place off the internet, giving my brain some space from cyberspace (forgive me, I’m writing this past midnight). I know this seems pretty hypocritical as I’ve digitalised the pages below, but I’m talking about the process of it. It’s satisfying to press down hard on paper with a dried-out glue stick, hear the sound of stuff ripping, rearrange things without having to drag and drop. And I’m usually quite pleased with the final results, so I’m sharing them with you here. Here’s to us, you scrappy lot!
This isn’t my best one, but I like the photo of the rose I found in a ‘how to do photography’ book from the ’70s. Just now, I took a photo of some daffodils in my bedroom by pointing my iPhone towards them and holding my finger down on it, enabling the AF Lock thing. But luckily for me, things were way more complicated 40 years ago, leaving me with books they give away for free at charity shops filled with scrapbook-worthy material.
These are some courgettes on top of an old iron bridge. The courgettes are from a Good Housekeeping spin-off book from 1981 called ‘Microwave Cooking Made Easy’.
Sliced Battenberg; scented cutting from an old Nat Geo feature about the origin of ingredients for best-selling fragrances in 1979; delicious-looking orange juice.
Again, clearly another quick-fire job, probably when I was desperate to rationalise my thoughts when deciding if I should go and meet that weird guy from Tinder again, feat. the Quiet Beatle, Movieland feature about Audrey Hepburn (circa 1950s), Le Moulin de la Galette postcard by Renoir (although the postcard is a replica).
I love this one, but it’s nothing to do with me – just what a photo. I felt compelled to paste something ugly over this, but my gut stopped me. Everything about the above photo’s composition is to die for. My, GOD. Feel free to pinch for your lock screens, people.
Something about the ’40s/’90s mash-up in that 1991 ad for Intel processors that is peak-perfect nostalgia levels.
On my to-do lists of recent, writing a blog post has always meant to have been at the top, but instead shoved to the bottom for something *more important*. Since I last wrote, I’ve been working 37 ½ hours a week, in a production of King Lear, moved house, and was in Pilton, Somerset, coincidentally at the same time as Glastonbury Festival was on. And luckily we came across some tickets (about three months ago) so went along. It was alright.
For all the blog posts I haven’t written over the past month, I’ve written one thousand in my head. I’ve hit an unfortunate point recently where everything seems to have fallen into place, for the first time in a while, and I’ve hit an unsettling comfortableness.
Comfortable as I’ve been doing all things I really enjoy, but unsettling because I haven’t allowed myself the space to really enjoy them i.e Taking Too Much On Than You Can Deal With Right Now.
The last month has been full burnout, and at times I felt like all I was doing when I wasn’t doing anything was sleeping, only to wake up and CRACK on through to-do lists again. But hey, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not by any means.
When I was little, I would spend whole days during the summer holidays sitting by the phone, making everyone call me the ‘telephone lady’, and answering every phone call with “Hello, you have reached the Lepore’s household. How may I help you today, ma’am?” I like to be useful. And yet I am the laziest workaholic ever.
In the past couple of months I’ve been trying to up my productivity, with much dismay. I’ve had to completely stop watching the television, and try to cut down my internet time so I can do all of the important and necessary things in my spare time, such as phoning my mother and pruning my bonsai tree.
I want to do so much, and I want it to happen to me now. Why is it that I keep looking at job vacancies online, when I’m five months into a job I’m really enjoying? I’ve been going straight from work to rehearsals then home, to pack my things into a box to move house – but OMG Tara, why haven’t you started on your play yet? You said you’d have a first draft completed by the first week of August! God, you suck!
Being at burnout stage forever makes you have endless wars with yourself. Never being good enough, putting too much pressure on your tiny mind: Oh god! I’m so busy! I can’t do anything!
I had a huge brain vomit the other day when I couldn’t work out if ‘You’ was spelt like that. The Y looked weird and intrusive. I’d been sleeping for five hours a night.
When I feel like I couldn’t possibly write another paragraph, learn a new song, or go anywhere ever again when I have to interact with people – I have to force myself to ask why I wanted to start this in the first place.
Everything I have ever done as a hobby started out as a thought that excited me so much just before I went to bed. I once got so excited at the prospect of performing a one-man version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I got up in the middle of the night and performed it to myself in the conversatory. Now that’s passion.
But being a true burnout makes one devoid of any passion. A lyric I go back to again and again and again is David Bowie’s “My brain felt like a warehouse/It has no room to spare/I had to cram so many things to store everything in there” from Five Years on Rise/Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
I mean, my god. I wouldn’t ever go to ‘warehouse’ as an adjective to describe the ol’ noggin but like, of course I wouldn’t – because I am NOT DAVID BOWIE. That just sticks with me a lot. Cramming things into a WAREHOUSE. There sure is a lot of things in your brain, Mr. B!
I’m obviously not comparing my simple, small-town mind to that of His Holiness, Davey B, but yes – that lyric – followed shortly after by “I never thought I’d need so many people.” Guh. I digress. I know what I meant initially, but I just fangirled too hard, too fast. Listen to it.
Perhaps I just try and keep busy all the time because I am determined to sustain my interest in ALL THE THINGS. I think part of me feels like because I’m not a student, I have to occupy my time with lots of interests and hobbies, to help make up for a lack of degree.
For creativity to be able to flourish, you really need headspace. Quality headspace, long walks, galleons of wine. Ha ha. Although maybe that is what you need.
I took a book out of the library three months ago and have renewed it FOUR times. If it keeps giving this much, I will eventually buy it.
The book is The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy, by Michael Foley. Obviously I took it out because of the title, which is brilliant, but it makes for a mixture of very interesting reading to be ingested in snippets, lest you’re some philosophy square who knows about guys called Nietzsche and Jung.
The whole book is quotable, obviously, that’s why it made it as a book. The Loss of Transcendence chapter is one that’s been bouncing around this big old warehouse over the last few days. He opens the section talking about Our Lord Bruce Springsteen, and how at a huge stadium concert of his, the people sitting nearer the back seemed completely indifferent and uninterested. I was all, but, this is The Boss! I don’t believe that for a second. But then of course I can. The problem is, myself especially included, the more you do, the less bothered you can become about it.
“Constant exposure to entertainment has left many incapable of sustained interest, never mind transcendence.”
If we can’t sit still, shut up, or stop wanting things, are we missing out on some of the most important things in life? Truly experiencing things – rather than experiencing things and subsequently uploading them to Facebook, or experiencing things vicariously through other people’s Facebook pages?
Having a self-destructive streak (albeit a small one, closer to a strand), this said something to me:
“The paradox is that the most intense experience of the self is the loss of self.”
We spend our whole week agonising over how our hair looks, our jobs, what our ‘purpose’ is, how you will make sure you save more money next month – i.e A constant will to improve oneself, and then go out and get absolutely blotto at the weekend. It is only human to seek a true, real sense of self and satisfaction, only to want to feel nothing at all on a Saturday and dance to Rocky Horror on the kitchen table.
In order to achieve a more natural, non-narcotic feeling of transcendence, it takes time, and dedication. Be busy, do lots of things, but know they will take time to pay off. You can’t have it all now. You just haven’t earned it yet, baby.
Jeffrey Lewis’ song most wonderful song ‘Time Trades’ is all about doing stuff that takes TIME but will be so worth it.
“Skill must first be acquired, slowly and frustratingly. There is no immediate gratification. Indeed, there many never be any. But when the skill becomes automatic, the miracle may occur.
“The activity seems to become not only effortless but autonomous – to take over, to assume control, to be running itself. So the musical instrument plays itself, the sword wields itself, the poem writes itself, the dancer does not so much dance as permit music to enter and take over the body.”
So yes, busy yourself, and enjoy it. Just don’t expect the rewards to come by as quickly as your weeks are going. It’s only when we take the time to reflect and become conscious of what we’re working hard on, and possibly wait for however long it will take – without succumbing to the need for immediate gratification – will we truly reap the rewards.
I want to do things properly, with genuine feeling. I want to stop reading books with my laptop open. I don’t want to miss out on all the proper stuff in life cause I’m too busy working on a gazillion things, rushing them, and never speaking properly to my mother. Or tending to my bonsai tree.
I’m in a good mood right now so am eager to write- thus providing the internet with a totally false, happy-go-lucky, carefree version of myself (which only really is evident for around 20 minutes in a 168 hour week.) So enjoy this you guys! (As I typed this, my speakers broke.)
I’ve had a strange old time this week where I have been under a horrific spell of self-loathing and doubt- that culminated in…nothing of value or use to me.
I wrote a blog post a few days ago basically called…”I’M IN LIMBO AND I AIN’T GOT A SAT NAV” documenting my existential crises of the past 36 hours with a lot of corrosive self pity and shameful put downs.
Feeling a little inbetween (see last post) has blossomed into a huge, weighty, dragged-down feeling of being totally in the realms of absolute limbo. (I googled “in limbo” after writing that, as I am often struck by these fancy phrases that we use in daily life so casually. In limbo! Language is silly, and weird.)
Some of my favourite definitions found (one’s I am relating to):
To be in Limbo basically means you are subject to circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from doing something.
a place to which persons or things are regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past, or out of date
in the Middle-Ages, the Church told people that if they didn’t pay some money to the Church, they would go to purgatory (Christian word for Limbo).
So at least now I know WHY I’m in Limbo. (I never used to put my money in the collection basket.)
I feel totally unworthy of things I’m applying for. I know that I’m not really, and I can do it, and I am so capable *exhausts self of hopeful self-affirmation.* I feel stuck in where I am, and I need someone to give me a shot. Maybe I need that someone to be me, and give MYSELF a shot to be more positive and not hold that metaphorical gun to my head every time I begin a new application form.
I didn’t publish it because a) I was in Limbo, with no Wifi, DUH- and b) there’s already too many negative, self-deprecating things on the internet, in my journal and in the world. I know I am feeling really anxious and need some time away from this endless stream of babbling consciousness when I write a sentence that is totally incomprehensible and lacks any sort of cohesion. Usually getting unnecessarily frustrated or upset; I usually cure it by reading a book, of any kind (i.e Princess Diaries 2), like : “Hey! Words do go together!” THUS, my faith in writing is restored and I leave the computer for a bit to go do something SO unrelated, like make banana pancakes, just to, chill, and like be, y’know?(I’m tired.)
Anyway, Saturday is my favourite day as I get to go to London and do some acting classes, so I usually end up coming home feeling pretty inspired and ready to add ANOTHER book based on Stanslavski’s ‘system’ & ‘toolkit’ to add to my Amazon Wishlist.
Currently, I am amidst huge, mounting to-do lists expecting a lot of me daily. They usually begin with SHOWER!!! – which says a lot about my lifestyle. I’m getting a few invitations concerning interviews for workshops and jobs I’ve been applying to which makes the dire process of online application forms and deadlines seem a little more tolerable.
Meanwhile + ALSO: Last week, I went into town a few hours earlier than I needed to for three reasons. It was a Thursday, I’d a) had another rejection email from a drama school and needed some time spent thinking alone, b) broke one of my nails and needed a repair ASAP, c) planned to go around CV dropping, cause, like, money, and like, money.
On the way to do none of these things, I walked towards our local museum and was wonderfully surprised by the exhibition that had replaced the huge, yellow, swirling inflatable thing that had greeted me on my last visit. (It was eerily noisy.)
Last autumn I went to a playwrighting workshop set up by Metal Peterborough, an Arts Council funded platform for local artists- where we spoke about the tricky process of beginning to write something proper for stage. I wrote about it here, I think.
I saw some of the winning scripts this week, at a rehearsed reading night, also at the Gallery. Part of me regretted not trying harder at creating something for the project (I initially struggled with playwrighting a lot more than I thought I would)- but the standard of the work produced was so touching and funny that I’ve decided to have another go at it. (I think the key with writer’s block is to begin with a pre-exisiting idea rather than a blank page. Jean Luc-Godard said…*adjusts tie and clears throat with a smug facial expression*: ‘It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.’) Anyway.
The workshop and playwrighting project was in conjunction with the group’s project of last year – ‘Metal Billboard’ – which culminated in the exhibition I saw last Thursday at the museum. The Billboard artwork posed 10 questions, combined with 10 artist’s interpretations of the given text.
What happens next?
Are migrants not humans?
Are you worth it?
What’s an Artist worth?
Why do animals exist?
Can you Fall up?
For how much longer do we tolerate mass murder?
What role does love play in economics?
What is necessary here?
(how about THAT to clear your writer’s block!!)
In September of last year, 10 of these billboards were up around the city, my favourite being the ‘What Happens Next?’ piece, above above, that is stuck ABOVE my bed (so many aboves) which is probably the reason why I struggle to be able to have ‘lazy days’ at home- as I’m constantly reminded that I should be trying to answer that question.
Combined with this was the ‘100 Journals’ project, which was utterly captivating and eye-opening- I’ve been keeping diaries and scrapbooks for a long time and love nothing more than to nose through other people’s lives.
Unfortunately, as is the nature of journals – people (including me in a ((metaphorically)) double padlock kind of way) tend to keep them secretive. Stumbling across this collection of OTHER people’s journals, just lying there for me to read ON A RED CHAIR WITH LEOPARD PRINT CUSHIONS – I mean ????!!
Isn’t it a lovely, simple idea: people keeping a collection of their supposedly mundane and everyday thoughts in a cheap notebook which is then displayed in an art gallery for everyone to read. It was nice to realise that there were people living in my city who were just like me, but due to the anonymity of the project, I had no idea who they were. Which is nice really, as they could be anyone.
I have to go, but thanks for reading.
I am working on a few pieces on paper at the moment which I will type up here if I get a free hour or two. (I usually have a free hour or two. Or three.)
So, there I was, minding my own business, having a nothing sorta day when suddenly The Inbetweeners came on television, and something really touched me about the fragile nature of the human condition and the delicate relationships withi…. EDIT: Just kidding! I wouldn’t do that to you.
I feel as if I’m in a bit of an inbetween currently- but I don’t mind too much. At least not too much of the time anyway. I’d consider myself a generally outgoing, sociable creature, but I sometimes feel best at home, on my own in my room, drawing on my knees with felt tip or reading the same books I read when I was 13. I had a bit of a freak out last week when I realised the life I am currently leading is essentially that of a day off sick from school, but EVERY DAY, which is, like, so dreamy, but also: YOU CANNOT JUSTIFY TOAST AS A PART OF EVERY MEAL.
Something I have observed though, having given my brain a chance to cool down over the past couple of days, is that some of us don’t feel like we’re accomplishing anything unless we’re totally burning out. There is a sort of satisfication in total exhaustion, like *Oh, my little body is aweary of this great world, how will it survive if I ever take a day off from perfectionism and do a Ferris Bueller?* Take some time, if you need some time! The world will keep spinning, babe. Anxiety is so not the new black, and when hitting a bad spell of it, e v e r y fucking thing can feel like such a life changing decision.
I know I’ve hit a bad place when my mind is whirring through every bad-case scenario ever, all of the consequences of every decision I’ve made, and then, oh, I’m at the front of the queue and I begin to speak but don’t recognise my own voice, so speaking sounds (or as a medical professional might say: FORMING WORDS) becomes really difficult for me- and so commences the bouts of low self-esteem. For someone who has a shitload to say all the time, my stammer (which is infrequent but has persistently been part of my life since I was young) can feel quite devastating at times. In high-pressure scenarios especially (interviews, auditions) if I feel like a separate entity from my body due to a bad week, a lot of self-inflicted doubt, or a particularly condescending individual, finding my voice can be difficult. More often than not I struggle the most when tired or stressed, and then comes the frantic search for a synonym with a different consonant, but never quite being able to say the word you mean, thus sounding so-not-verbose, or whatever the opposite of verbose is (See, synonyms just ain’t my forté)
Anyway, that week has blown over now, and I am feeling much more like myself. I know I am in a much better place because I am out of bed by 8am, have applied for two jobs today and am writing this blog post. Interestingly, furthermore to what I’ve already said about ‘feeling 13 again’ *sigh*- it has not come totally without advantages. There is a fear of returning to the habits of our former selves, especially when we’re constantly striving for self-improvement. However, as long as I don’t return to any negative, self-inflicting natures of my younger years, surely it can only be a good thing to regain some of the aspirational ambition I had 5 years ago?
For example, I used to write a lot more when I was that age, but now I just…er..don’t…have the time? (I have a lot of time.) I mean, yes, I don’t have like, SEVEN unrequited crushes to write lengthy essays on – (these days, I tend to just draw huge, wobbly smiley faces on every page as a reference to my current beau) but I miss that feeling of just creating stuff as a form of release. I filled a scrapbook from the ages of about 12-16, it took me FOUR YEARS but I still filled it right to the end.
Some things are nice without deadlines. The immense sense of accomplishment once finished took me by total surprise, because I had no pre-conceived ideas of what it should look like, I just did it for fun.
Perhaps the best thing about this year ‘off’ has been the ability to have 24 hours totally to myself to read what I want, write what I want, listen to what I want. Truly things that I want to do right at that moment, not on a syllabus, not syllabus-related, not something that might make me look good on my personal statement. Sixth form totally starved me of enjoying learning, although I tried to at the time- but I felt really empty of positivity.
They say old habits die hard, I was (maybe still am) in a harmful cycle of perfectionism, comparison, pessimism. Feeling sorry for yourself is the easy way out of most situations, but self-pity can be so corrosive. This pattern can become so commonplace, but even changing your routine in tiny ways can slowly change your perception, which is a form of self-improvement that is more patient and more rewarding.
Repeating positive affirmations when you wake up could make all the difference, i.e “Take what you need from today”, or “You are totally shit hot, talented, and one of a kind and you must not settle for anything but the best” – whatever, each to their own.
This post totally didn’t turn out as I’d planned, but now I’ve forgotten what I was going to say anyway. I didn’t even realise I wasn’t talking about whatever I’d wanted to say for the last 40 minutes, so maybe the above is more authentic. Whatever. Who even cares? I’m gonna get a beer.
All my love,
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”- Audrey Hepburn
I’m in this horrendous mood lately where I am always, always wanting to be writing (most usually) or painting, or scrapbooking or scrolling through the internet aimlessly looking at things that I will not remember tomorrow (ha ha, not that one) – there lies a constant urge to be churning out all this stuff- but where do I begin?
The thing is, it’s not getting me down, I am feeling instead optimistic about the realm of possibility, of things I could do with my time if only I put my mind to it. I went to a really interesting workshop last Monday about playwrighting, and it did really open my eyes up to the kind of things you can do as long as you can dedicate enough time and energy into it, without checking your phone every 20 minutes thus interrupting the creative, natural flow of whatever you’re making.
What I find most aggravating about all forms of art, is how much of it is really art? I’m not saying that this blog is by any way, any form of art, nor am I sneering down on other, enthusiastic young people currently questioning and creating their own stuff- obviously I 100% support exploration and funding towards anything that makes people stop and think.
I only ask this question because I personally struggle myself , reacting to the sorts of things on our TV’s, in our magazines, and on the internet – with the amount of content being produced- so vast and constant, that I often wonder if there’s much point of me writing a scene between a group of friends complaining about their lives, as so much of this has been done before.
I have problems with the internet. Obviously, it is an AMAZING resource for so much, and we can learn pretty much everything if we wanted to. Thanks to the internet, we produce more information in 2 days than our ancestors would have ever known or something. ( ! ) Is that awesome or really fucking terrifying?! I am so torn. Anyway, I recently saw an art exhibition that was essentially screenshots of someone’s Instagram feed blown up in size, printed onto canvases and shown in a gallery? Am I being really narrow minded? Am I allowed to cry yet?
It is not that I don’t feel passionate enough about writing, it’s just that I tend to have a fairly cynical angle towards these things. If I didn’t have the time to sit down and type up my thoughts in a vaguely cohesive manner, I think I’d be asking myself the question, “Where the fuck do I begin?”
I think I know the answer, which is, again, really frustrating. You just f***** do the thing. You pick up the pen. And work and work and work, get people to read it, edit, work, edit, work and FINISH. Don’t rush it, but finish it.
I am at the stage currently where I am endlessly trawling the internet and eavesdropping on people’s conversations and anecdotes for a starting point. You could call it research. Inspiration is everywhere, obviously, that’s what life has to give us. I am currently living amongst physical mood boards and mood boards in my brain and unread books and blank notebooks in the hope that I find something that will resonate very strongly, and hopefully, combined with my tools I already own and with a shitload of resilience, I believe in the fact that I could create something of worth and value, something to be proud of, if I worked hard enough at it.
Hello! Well, that felt theraputic. Anyway! This evening I begin a new job at my local theatre, which should be fun and I’m officially working 2 part time jobs so as long as I can train myself to avoid mini-breaks with best friends to Paris (LOL I can’t) then I should be raking in those coins.
Also, have an audition Thursday for a Saturday course to hone my audition techniques. Ironically having an audition to get into an audition class. Looking forward to it, feeling much more prepared than I have previously for similar things. Still though *head in hands*. It’s easy to do at home but I have to learn to act the same when under intense pressure. All in preparation and self-belief. People do it, though.
Also, going to London tomorrow to see First Aid Kit with a matey. So excited. Check out how perfect this video is.
SPOILER ALERT: There are NO spoilers, and that’s why I like it so much.
Hey everyone! I’ve been too busy spending time staring at my nails pleading for them to grow and drinking regrettable concoctions of vodka and other substances (that sounds like the name of a debut album or something) to write anything long and boring, but I did make something scrappy/ziney yesterday!
It was gorgeous really, it was SO hot, and I was sprawled out all day on the grass like a cat (albeit a very focused productive self-publishing cat)
It was really easy to make, so I could cut and stick pretty much as soon as I’d begun, which is great as I suck at remaining interested in things for more than one second. I’ve always liked to be scrappy, I wrote about it once I think. I decided to theme it around it, ‘Lists’, as the pages were really tiny to be able to write anything ‘proper’ but it was still super fun. I’m going to post it seperately- enjoy!