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.
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 turn 18 on Friday, and the other night I was gripped by an insatiable need to write (which is so so rare)- where I was lying in bed and then had to get up in order to note some stuff down.
17 is so romanticised, and I’ve tried to emphasise that even further- which goes to say that I’ve had a pretty intense year if anything. I remember watching a video with Mike from Friends, or Paul Rudd as people now know him (after the Clueless revival) where he says your teenager years are irreplaceable because you will feel the happiest you’ve ever felt, the saddest you’ve ever felt, you’ll laugh the most, and cry the most etc, but everything is so blown up and gives a lot of potential for learning, or getting creative, or just thinking about things and sussing them out for yourself.
I remember a few years ago, when I was about 14, I was really concerned that I was too ‘aware’ of being a teenager. It sounds really, really awful and shallow- but I genuinely feared that I didn’t feel like my peers because I couldn’t relate to things that were happening around me at the time (TBH, 2010 was a time when people did those ‘Rate me’ status’, etc) & I really didn’t get it, I just felt really aware that I was trapped in that horrible mid-teen existence, and I was just waiting patiently for it to be over.
My early teen years were ragingly ragingly angsty, in ways you wouldn’t believe, I once wrote a love letter to a crush in red watercolour and then ripped up the paper and ate it!! I was very passionate!! (and still am, but hopefully channel it a little better.)
Early adolescence is awful because you want to change your life so quickly and frequently, & nothing seems right (i.e SHALL I BE THE GIRL THAT WEARS A SINGULAR CLIP IN HER HAIR EVERY DAY? WAIT, NO, DOES THAT MEAN PEOPLE WILL PUT ME IN A BOX???) – but on the other hand you don’t want to change too obviously, so that your auntie will look at you and immediately say OHMYGOD YOU’VE GROWN UP SO MUCH! HAVE YOU STARTED YOUR PERIOD YET?! in front of your mortified dad.
Ways in which you can change your life when you’re 14:
Delete your Facebook for a few weeks- people will think you’re really wild.
Get a block fringe, write poetry about your newly-found identity, regret block fringe, write poetry about confused identity in relation to new appearance and lack of forehead.
Anyway, as I was saying. I used to try and reject the idea of change too much, because I didn’t want to control my life at a time when all I craved was adventure. I’d listen to an album, and beg for the belief that it’d be playing in my stereo forever, but deep down I’d know that nothing lasts that long and was desperately trying to cling onto these things, which were actually preventing me from trying new stuff. It got pretty cynical, “Oh, all of this stuff won’t be the same next week *mood swings mood swings* what’s the point of trying with anything if it’s likely to be gone when you begin to obsess over the next phase?”
I used to say no to quite a lot, ‘No, I wouldn’t normally do that.’ ‘No, people would think that out of character.’
SPOILER: You know when you were scared of working that singular clip in your hair, lest people put you in a box? Sister, that’s what saying no does too! Saying no puts you in a box. Putting a cool clip in your hair puts you in the coolest gang in the school, and that is what I learnt as a 17 year old. The End.
LOL! Just kidding.
(Please stay with me.) So, for ages, I was pretty bummed out being me- I had a lot of opinions, all pretty negative, I got exhausted by this, my friends dragged me out of the hole, but I was pretty stressed out for a while because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (and unfortunately at that time I had no idea how insignificant and unimportant that decision was, and I wish someone at school had told me that, rather than give me a Work to Action list.) Of course, having an idea of what you want to do is really great for some people, but right now I’m happy to not know. Yes. Full stop.
When you get really stressed, heartbroken, rejected, exhausted, burnt-out- it tends to take it’s toll, and that’s when I realised I couldn’t add to the problem myself by using the little energy I had in a negative way.
I began to say ‘Yes’ to things I wouldn’t have done before, which is a great way to find out who you really are, cause you get to have it all, and keep some of it. It’s like saying you only like chocolate cake, and never eating anything else for 17 whole years, but then one day someone suggests you try a carrot, and you do, and your body is like ‘Wow. I really need more of that because Vitamin A is delicious’. Kinda.
So, yes- I’ve come to understand the importance of mindfulness and being present- but certainly the hard way- as 17th year is ALL ABOUT the future, (or that is what they’ll try to tell you.), whereas, in fact it’s about the weekends! DUH!
SPOILER: Sometimes during weekends you can get a bit Yes- happy, and people around you will keep asking you if you’re okay, because they care about you, & even if they can’t understand why you’re doing things you wouldn’t normally, well that’s fine, too. They just love you and want to know you’re doing good.
It’s a total cliche, but you have to really hit bottom for a little while in order to realise that change is ever-evolving and essential to life, and all things must pass, all the bad (YAY) and all the good (boo!) When I was thinking about this stuff the other night, I was reminded about the Buddhist tradition of the sand mandala’s, where they create and destroy sand mandalas as part of a ritual, to represent the transitory nature of life. – Read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mandala
Ephemeral is a great word, literally meaning ‘lasting a very short time’ – and sometimes I just say it to remind myself that if you’re feeling shitty, you won’t soon, and if you’re feeling good, you won’t soon- so make the most of it. 17 isn’t forever, but that’s OK. Happy birthday me.
I wrote this on the way home from London, after another (failed) audition today. I am typing it up fairly tipsy and pub-bound, so exaggerations probably will be everywhere. (I am writing this after I wrote the things below and now I am quite drunk)
Saturday 18th January 2014~~~
It has been a total rollercoaster of a day, and I felt I had to buy a new notebook and pen because I knew I would want to write on the train journey home. Although I don’t know what exactly.
I do this thing every time I get a rejection from yet another drama school where I walk around Leicester Square/Covent Garden to see that the theatre actually exists outside of stuffy waiting rooms full of hopeful and jittering auditionees. I hit a total slump earlier and nearly cried on the Tube (this is actually a way embarassing situation)- which is ridiculous as my only problem to an outsider is not getting into a highly competitive and prestigious drama school, which is so dumb.
Then I walked across the Waterloo Bridge to go to the National and buy a ticket for the matinee, I was like: I don’t care what the show is! I’m gonna be reckless!- but it was The Light Princess, which is apparently quite shit, so I just moped about in the bookshop for about an hour, recklessly spending £20 on a collection of new plays by Dennis Kelly (which is actually delicious) because I am sick of Sartre and Pinter and old men in black turtlenecks telling me my choice of speech is unusual and ‘So you say you have read around other existentialist playwrights, tell me more???’ **Obviously I only wrote that to appear like I am well-read!! Duh!*
Anyway, so I was sitting at this caff on the South Bank, obviously with a face of death, as this guy approaches me and starts talking to me. At first, I gave him no attention: You are a homeless man, I have no change because I have just spent my last £20 on this ridiculous book (I hadn’t started it yet, it is actually awesome) – please let me be etc. But then I realise he was just telling me to ‘Smile’- and of course you have to force yourself to smile, which is funny in itself, as this stranger is forcing me to do something so I laugh, and he said:
“Fuckinghell I’m homeless, and I’m still smiling!”, and I thought, “Fuckinghell he’s homeless and he’s still smiling!” He went on to say, “Whoever’s made you feel like this, just be like fuck em.” Then he walked off repeating “Do what you want to do, be what you want to be”
God that sounds like such a lie. I could literally write a book about the weird experiences I have with strangers like this AKA guardian angels sent from heaven. Over the past few months I have had a few encounters with these male angels (albeit some dirtier than others), and they’ve all cheered me up or taught me something (even if that is only – when you think you could have another few Jagerbombs, you have already had way too many and it is time to go home.)
After this man walked away, I picked up my new book and started to read it with a fresh mind. Everything that had happened to me this morning suddenly didn’t feel like an end anymore, instead it felt like a new start in the sense where I could say ‘Hey, maybe that particular course genuinely isn’t what I want to do.”
I think my main trouble recently has been trying to do everything, which has meant that I haven’t been able to do anything properly at all. There is no point being like ‘Chill! Everythin’s easy!’ unless you truly believe it, but I think come June, I can start enjoying it all a bit more, rather than going to auditions so unprepared because I had to conjugate millions of French verbs the night before. Anyway, this is not forever. Ephemeral, and all that.
The hardest thing about rejection is being told that you are not good enough at the something you have chosen to be best at. I am coming to accept that this is just going to keep happening again and again, but hopefully my journal entries will get shorter & shorter as I learn how to cope.
As long as I can cling onto the spark, and stop seeing the ‘struggle’ as so much of a struggle, things will have to gradually start heading somewhere, wherever that is. It is not a struggle really at all, it is something that I am quite sure I really want to do, and to just have the chance to try to achieve this is v. exciting.
It’s really silly to be writing now because I really don’t have any time. The internet is a great place to find things to do that don’t really mean anything (Netflix, Twitter, just GOOGLE SEARCHING letters and seeing what happens) and it’s beautiful and distracting but then it gets to bedtime and you’re like I HAVEN’T DONE THAT RESEARCH!!! I HAVEN’T WRITTEN THAT ESSAY!!! I HAVEN’T READ ANY OF MIDDLEMARCH THAT I HAVE TO READ BY TOMORROW!!!!
You know what, I have so much to do (only bleedin’ going to Glastonbury next week ain’t I!) but I’ve just rediscovered another old album I used to adore and feel compelled to write about it. When starting this blog, I never intended for it to be music-based but I suppose it’s turned out that way because I find it has more substance than fashion or whatever.
Anyway, (this is going to be HEY! Here’s a really short post as the pasta’s boiling over constantly) but I’ve been listening to The Kinks are the Village Green Prevesation Society, because for school we had to find something about ‘looking back’, and for me- in both way- it reminds me of looking back to when I was listening to it, and also reminds me of long summers of my childhood.
Here are some links I really have to go eat (hunnnnnnnnngry):