I’ve been sulky today. Truly, utterly sulky – with this song playing over and over in my head. I busied myself with some work, which took my mind off my sulk for a bit, but the sulk kept returning, as sulks so often do.
The only thing that slightly cheered me up was a dumb-ass online article that has been widely shared over my Facebook page today about ‘modern dating’ – which made me scoff and scorn as much as the quote marks suggest it did.
I was like, please. I don’t want to read another article about how people want to ditch Tinder and get out there in the real world and actually be able to talk to guys at a bar, like people did in the 1860s or something! Come on you guys! (I say this as someone who is yet to try Tinder, not on moral grounds ((well, I’m not mad on instant validation)) but just cause I can’t imagine anything more embarrassing than bumping into my brother on it. I know. I am still a child.)
Anyway. I have so much on at the moment, as usual, that I can’t seem to find the time to enjoy much of it. I want to do sooo many things – as we all do, I suppose – but I’m so concerned and fixated on success at the end of it that I often forget to enjoy it while it’s happening.
I’ve started to pick up books again because – unlike when I was at school – there is no deadline that looms large with a book, you can plod along with it at your own pace, step by step, page by page, and I feel much better off for it.
Plodding along is particularly apt with the book I’m reading at the moment, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’m pretty hooked because it’s about hiking across an impossible route (not impossible, but hyperbole is perhaps necessary when boring you with information about what books I’m reading) in Northern America – the Appalachian Trail.
Now, I have probably walked pretty far in my lifetime if you calculate every step that I’ve ever taken (from the car to the office, over and over) so this book really speaks to me. (Sorry, I’ve drunk a lot of coffee and am finding myself really funny).
In all seriousness, I once did a spontaneous 13-mile walk with my best friend through surrounding villages near our houses, and I’ve not since had that same simple satisfaction of putting one foot in front of the other, for miles and miles, with no real destination nor appointment in mind. It was good enough to simply plod forward, on and on, lowly and slowly.
The Appalachian Trial, by contrast, is 2,200 miles – but it’s a great book if you’re looking for something to while away your hours with. Also, my mate Chloe – big up – loves it and (presumably) endorses it, so go forth with your £0.04 and pay for that postage, people.
If you just have one hour, then you must watch Lemonade – if you haven’t already. I’m not even going to write about it, all you need is a decent search engine – say Google – and one letter on your keyboard – ‘L’. (Steps have been taken out of this process, i.e you need Tidal – but get a free trial and waste 30 hours of this next month watching it over and over. I’ve seen it twice now, and it was SO much better the second time. NO WORDS.)
I’m 20 in two weeks. How am I handling this information – the cold truth that I’m departing my teenage years without even agreeing to it? Let’s just say that Weezer’s Teenage Dirtbag came on in Flares on Friday night and I cried my way through it while shouting in my 18-year-old friend’s ear: “This song’s for you now, babe. You gotta own it. And remember – it’s not forever.” Ah, the optimism of a drunk 19 year-, 11 month, 2 week-old. ‘Listen to Iron Maiden, maybe, with me. Oo-oo-oh.’ (Maybe).
I’m up against a play deadline at the moment so obviously I’m the least productive I’ve ever been. My acrylics have got to a really difficult length that also makes typing hard. There are no excuses, obviously, cause I’ve just written this 761-word blog post (761 words! Wow, thanks coffee!)
I’m also working on lots of exciting mini projects at the moment, with various friends and foes, some of which I’ll post about on here if they ever come into ripe fruition. The projects, not the people, of course.
Okay, firstly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there is nothing like the sound of a noisy keyboard. In this age of silenced iPhone clicks and shallow laptop keyboards, I love hearing the old PC keys being angrily bashed on, typing quickly and furiously. Or equally when writing to your sweetest beau, hearing your thoughts thumping out when typing up a 20-page love letter (or today’s equivalent, a really, really, er…. really long email) with a noisy keyboard, makes one feel like Carrie Bradshaw sitting at a desk with a Manhattan view. I remember the days when people were still typing with two fingers – maybe that’s why the cacophony of tapping keys sounds so good – it’s the sound of success.
I’m currently re-working a play I started to write back in August, a play that is being performed in front of actual live people on 3 June in Ipswich. The play, Fitting Room, was performed as a rehearsed reading back in November but will now show at Pulse Festival in Ipswich as a reworked, revised version, with the backing of regional theatre company Eastern Angles (big up).
So obviously the best way to deal with this information is to say – “June?! Pnnnah! That’s ages away!” and go about my daily life, kicking dustbins and painting my nails. But when that gets boring, the panic sets in as I suddenly think: “Why is it so difficult to pick this up again??” When I wrote the first version I was an unstoppable machine of words – words were flowing out like bloody endless rain into a paper cup, for Christ’s sake!
Although perhaps they weren’t – hindsight can be deceiving. When I look back truthfully, every writing session had some sort of hurdle. One time I had to order pizza and sit in my shed with just a notebook and pen to get writing, such was the allure of Wi-Fi, spending hours cooking something complicated and, when the Wi-Fi was turned off, Minesweeper.
Now I’m in re-draft stage. When you’re re-drafting something, how much do you change? Do you meddle with only the parts that you didn’t like, or do you take it in a completely different direction? Do I have enough battery left in my laptop? Did I forget to buy teabags?
What I haven’t been doing, and it’s something I know has been the downfall of re-draft Phase Two, is writing. I’ve had so many ideas, endless streams of “Maybe I could do this”, and “It’d be great if she did this instead…” but haven’t been writing them down as anything more than notes on old bus tickets. The mammoth task ahead of me has, at times, started to become quite overwhelming.
The thing is, I know there’s nothing to worry about, and I’m so excited about working on this more, it’s just that once your mind has wandered into crippling doubt, you quickly fall into a hell-hole of irrational pessimism.
I did write a page of A4 though yesterday, so I feel able to write about this a little more. Last week I was totally perplexed as to how to get my brain cogs whirring.
How I got to make the first steps again, to write that page of A4, was by being kind to myself, not getting severely aggressive at a blank document, and giving myself some headspace to think about it. After that, and most importantly, I didn’t think about it for a couple of hours, and it was only then that I was able to start again and write that extra page.
It sounds kind of obvious, but you can sometimes get your head wrapped up in a project so much that it’s constantly playing out in the back of your mind. Of course the problem is is that when you look for things you can never find them. And that becomes exhausting, and then writing isn’t fun. And writing’s the funnest thing in the world ever! That’s why taking a day or two off it (if you have that luxury) can give you the break you need to come back to it feeling excited again.
How I filled those couple of hours was by driving to the library and getting two art books out: One that related to the subject at hand, and one that didn’t whatsoever. The first is a book called ‘New England: The culture and people of an English New Town during the 1970s and 1980s’, a book of photographs taken by local paramedic Chris Porsz over the course of these two decades.
I’ve scanned in a few of them here, which I hope he doesn’t mind me doing. I love all of the photos so much; it’s a gorgeous collection in a beautifully published book. Please go and look at his website here.
My play is about my hometown, Peterborough, and that point where you have to decide whether to leave or stay in the city where you were born – and what that means for different people. Lots of my parent’s generation have stayed in Peterborough, but almost all teens now jet off to university at the first instance and might return after graduating as a second and not-so-preferable option (this is a huge generalisation but hopefully you get where I’m coming from).
Peterborough has this rep of being ‘the place where you change trains’, and ‘where the passport office is’, but with a population of 188,000, it has 118,000 stories to tell. The city has been, and remains to be, a place of rapid cultural change, and I think these photos really encapsulate those changes.
1. Out from behind the curtains, Chris Porsz
2. This heart-warming and priceless photo taken outside the Guildhall in Cathedral Square (for all the Peterborian readers):
3. Wahiwala, Chris Porsz
I like this one so much because it reminds me of my favourite ever photograph taken by Garry Winogrand in Forest Lawn Cemetry, Los Angeles in 1964 (ruined only by the glitter stuck to my scanner):
3. Dressing Up, Chris Porsz
And this (!) – the image of a Peterborough ‘retail girl’ that I am astonished that I found. I went into the library thinking “I need a book about teenagers living in Peterborough working in a clothes shop” – and here it is – the money shot. (The Rockwell painting at the top of this post also made my giggle – the tired, stockinged feet are all too true. Also note the OTT ‘sensible’ shoes of the girl in the photo above).
In his afterword, Chris Porsz apologises to his family for “roaming the streets for hours trying to satisfy some creative urge”. This made me laugh out loud, because the amount of times I’ve walked around Pbo with a camera or notebook, begging to ‘be inspired’, is too real.
I also found this book in the Local Archives section that made the trip to library worth it alone. So camp.
When stuck in a writing rut, taking an unnecessary journey on the bus or sitting in a cafe can sometimes be all you need to hear a golden nugget of dialogue that can inspire you to start writing again. The minute you go into freak-out mode and say you haven’t enough time to write is not going to help you to write. You won’t be able to write anything at all – or nothing that good, anyway. Be kind to yourself, take your time, and read something completely different – something you wouldn’t normally do. It might offer you that slightly different perspective you’re after.
“Why she’s a girl from the chainstore
Her name was written on her coat
Her life was a miserable anecdote”
– Why She’s A Girl from the Chainstore, Buzzcocks
I’ve written something about writer’s block before (excuse the irony of the ‘plethora’ of work about not being able to write), which you can read here.
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
(Caitlin Moran said something once about if you want to be a writer, you must learn how to be a writer on a treadmill, lest you will die from eating biscuits. I feel the same applies to a gap year.)
Hi hello hi! I haven’t written for around 2 months, but I’m back today for a specific reason- we have had the new Belle & Sebastian album unleashed to us, and I couldn’t help but take a listen, in the same way that I can’t help but eat another biscuit. It’s called Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which we so do, and it’s released on Matador next week. I feel guilty, and ashamed as J pre-ordered the LP for me for Christmas, but I still couldn’t help but take a listen. In a way that a New Year often promises a feeling of fresh starts and beginnings, it seldom does compared to the excitement behind a new album, especially when it’s their ninth studio album, and the previous 8 have been highly regarded as ‘my jam.’
I saw them play in Paris, Halloween 2014, where they played some of the new material- much to the approval of myself and Ella, and these 2 or 3 European guys who we befriended for the night, quietly discussing beforehand which was our favourite B-side as we sat on the ground in our cardigans so we were near the front (we weren’t in cardigans but let’s just create the twee dream.)
The album opens with Nobody’s Empire, and although not initially loving it, I now really really rate it, especially as an opening track. I think I wasn’t listening to it at all at first, I was just playing it as background music, tossing my hair back like ‘Zzuuh, nothing will ever beat The Model, or whatever.’ But then I played it, thought about it, listening to the lyrics along with the lovely Marx-and-Engels-y piano, and decided I was into it, really hard. Essentially, an autobiographical song about the frontman of your favourite band, is the best thing ever in a fangirl sense. The song talks about Stuart’s struggle with ME, dealing with a chronic illness, lying in bed feeling all useless,
“I was like a child, I was light as straw
When my father lifted me up there
Took me to a place where they checked my body
My soul was floating in thin air”
Very cool. A great opening choice, it reminds me of Thunder Road, the notorious opener of Born to Run by Springsteen, with it’s storytelling-y, piano-y beginning, into a big sounding, life affirming sound as the song builds and builds. Also he sings, “If I had a camera I’d snap you now, cause there’s beauty in every stumble”, which makes me swoon- BECAUSE I AM ALWAYS STUMBLING, METAPHORICALLY AND PHYSICALLY.
Track 2 is called Allie, supposedly the female perspective in which Stuart writes from for this album. I can’t possibly comment on this track as it opens with Stevie, ‘ba-da-da’ing, which is too much for a fangirl. You’re just like, OMG! It’s Stevie! And he’s ba-da-ing!
Anyway. What I can disclose about this song, what I like about it, is the same old, trusted B&S formula- which is all like, ‘Angry girl gets angry about things and we sing about it with pretty 60’s melodies and instruments.’ It just works, “You made a list of all your heroes & you thought about what they went through/ It’s much harder, much darker than anything that happened to you.” I can relate to that, I’m ashamed to admit. That frustration of being a teenager and wanting anything ANYTHING to happen to you, no matter what, it’s just something that will trigger you to move out, or write a song, or get a haircut. Kind of wanting to pursue the *ahem* struggle of something to get a story, if anything, out of it- but then in reality just sitting around in your pants eating Wotsits watching Netflix. Adolescence.
Next up, The Party Line! This is the first single released from the record, so if you haven’t heard it already, you probably already have in H&M or something. (I’m not denouncing them as sell-outs, I did actually hear this in H&M, and internally squealed, bopping my head in a nervous, twitchy sort of way for 3 minutes, probably looking like I’d shoplifted something.) I totally hated this song when I first heard it, and mourned the loss of my band- before the curse of the fangirl hit and I was like- HEY!! GUYS!! CALM IT! IT’S JUST A DIFFERENT DIRECTION!’ I thought it was too repetitive and tinny-sounding, and nothing *sigh* like Judy and the Dream of Horse *sigh*, but then I got over it, and now it’s my alarm. It dances me out of bed, every day. Favourite line goes to: “Where were you when I was king in this part of town?” I love the idea of fallen popularity, the more local the better; being ‘famous’ within the teenage population of your hometown. Just for wearing a cool leather jacket, shaving your head, etc.
The Power of Three is lovely, and Sarah is singing. The Cat With the Cream has some lovely, beautiful melodies with some sacred sounding strings. Enter Sylvia Plath is a total mess, and sounds like the Pet Shop Boys, but hey, I’ll probably love it by next week. The Everlasting Muse is a fantastic load of fun, with a Greek sounding chorus, a sound favoured by me and my friends, who happily danced to Zorba the Greek and Dominick the Donkey, on repeat for a long time on New Year’s Eve. Before I get quoted on that, it doesn’t sound remotely like Zorba the Greek, but hey, I am not equipped to write serious, proper album reviews. It just reminded me of NYE. This is a first listen, OK, guys.
Perfect Couples has the perfect (lol) Sympathy for the Devil sounding introduction, before it explodes into BASICALLY THE BEST PARTY SONG OF 2015. Maybe not a party party song, but the song to play as you set out the cheese before the party. It could so be in a musical. Oh, a Belle & Sebastian musical. They played this in Paris to a background montage of a very stylish, very choreographed scene of a living room party. It was all just très cool, bèbè.
The next song, Ever Had a Little Faith?, was so perfect for today, and is good, old fashioned B&S, with lyrics so perfect for rainy bus journeys, “Something good will happen, wait and see/ Do you spend your days second guessing fate?” & “Drop your sad pretence/ You’ll be doing fine, you will flourish like a rose in June.”
Aural proof new albums provide more hope than a new year ever could. (The last 3 tracks also exist for you to stream, along with all the above tracks I’ve spoken about, but I have a to-do list the length of my leg. Also, with my ideal album at 35 minutes, the running time of just over an hour is too much for my ears and their poor stamina)
In other news, I’m glad Christmas is over, spent 4 nights in 2 different hotels in the past 7 days, was in Dublin last week, am in London twice this week and in Cambridge at the weekend to see First Aid Kit, again. Things could be worse.
Thanks for staying with me, if you did (which if you’re reading this- you did! So like, uh, thanks!)
I am writing from my local library, somewhere I have come to love really too dearly since all of my friends moved away to make it big in bigger cities. Obviously, being a total nerd – quite surprising for those who would see me as a cool, hip young thing with an icy persona, I probably would live in the library – so comforting is it with it’s books, CD’s, DVD’s and internet access. And magazines! You can actually loan out MAGAZINES from the library! I will never have to spend another penny again in my life, which is comforting, as I only have about 14 of those at current.
Caitlin Moran wrote a lovely piece about how libraries are the “Cathedrals of Our Souls” – which is so lovely and true, commenting on the fact that it really is the last places on our high streets where we are still a citizen, rather than a consumer. I also didn’t realise I could use a computer here; obviously I’d seen people on them before but thought maybe that was part of a super deluxe package of being a library member. Alas, here is a free for all. Hooray for libraries!
Meanwhile, I’ve just been back at my former school to return books from THEIR library (a definite recurring theme here today) and was very kindly told since I obviously liked the edition so much (it was a lovely, tatty old version of Le Petit Prince) I could keep it and not pay a fine! Plus my old French teacher signed it for me with the message “meilleur voeux!” Best wishes!
Also, I was told if I wanted to help with the production, I’d need a police check- so am going back for my CRB check tomorrow – l o l x 10000. Is this what adulthood is?
Going to see Gone Girl tonight with Momma. Things are alright, and I think I’m okay at the moment. Began my Gap Year Diploma at Central School on Saturday and it exceeded all expectation- I am very excited to fully commence. Reading everything I possibly can about drama school, and nearly finished my application. Now comes the challenging job of finding suitable audition pieces again………
Sorry that this was such a diary post, but I haven’t had a pen for the last 2 days (only lip liner, and there are tooooo many journal entries in my notebook writing solely in lip liner- and that madness has to stop sometime.)