I Me Mine: 3,872 characters of stuff that’s happened in June – 18/6/16

I have become so supremely talented at Twitter that I’ve started writing top-class tweets I don’t want to post (of which there are many) in my journal, as to not bombard my Twitter page with Dad jokes that no-one understands. Here is stuff I’ve been up to, in 140 characters plus:

I have been apologising to myself a lot lately for not writing ‘creative stuff’ as much as I’d like to. The two people that live inside my head, the cool, rational, laid-back one, whom I like to refer to as Tara (hoping that this rational, calm side is actually who I am, 95% of the time, when not riddled with anxiety), is all, DON’T WORRY, you write for your job, you continue to write religiously in your journal, you do not owe your life to a Tumblr account. And that’s fine. I trust that voice, with the safe knowledge that I’ll get back to writing again soon, and in a big way.

The other person that lives inside my head, whom I will call Martha (disclaimer: I do call her Martha, IRL), starts telling me I’m not doing enough, I need to be writing more, writing for every website, seizing every opportunity, paid or unpaid, time or no time. I felt quite glad the day I renamed my anxiety ‘Martha’, because now I can just tell Martha to shut up, get out of my head, and continue to listen only to Tara, to whom I have total loyalty to (as she always knows what to do, kind of. She’s done stuff before).

When I don’t know what in the hell I’m doing, when my brain does a wonk and I need to sit down and focus on singular thoughts, I heed these wise tweets of yore from Our Lady Caitlin Moran, one of which suggests: Just Listen to David Bowie. It has yet to fail.

Also, a wonderful, wonderful friend made me this reminder/poster, to de-wonkify my mind:

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That being said, I have been well, despite the lack of productivity with writing-y bits over the last couple of weeks, and a week-long bout of cystitis that’s hit me worryingly Too Close for (Glastonbury) Comfort. Behold, some updates on me:

  1. My play Fitting Room showed to an audience of around 50 people – 50 strangers at that!- at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich a few Fridays (3 June) ago, and the general consensus was that it wasn’t a total trainwreck. A few people even laughed! So that was really fun, and it looks likely to be developed in 2017. No, there’s no deal with Hollywood people, not yet. Yes, it will be re-written by me. Yes, it means I have to write some more of it. Seeing a new audience watch it for the first time and discuss it afterwards over tiny paper cups of coffee – as one only does at the theatre –  was enough for me to know it’s got something to say and people have latched onto that, whatever it is. (I kind of know what that is – being the writer and all – but only kind of. I was delightfully surprised at how much people had latched onto those initial ideas I’d had last July when I was writing the first draft, so something worked). And my friends came to see it, and we stopped off at Wetherspoons on the three-hour journey down, and I didn’t even get a parking ticket. However, I’m going to be taking a few months’ hiatus from playwriting as:
  2. …I’m moving to South London at the end of August to get some more journalism training as part of a six-month course with News Associates. It means I have to leave my current job – sob – (well, don’t I know it! I should be a poet!) but aside from all the changes and goodbyes, etc, I’m really looking forward to moving out and moving into London, something I’ve wanted to do since forever. And, by George, am I ready to continuing making magazines! Heck, yeah! It’s a risk, but I can’t wait. London!
  3. I wrote a review of Amy Rose Spiegel’s Action on that new site I was on about, Obviously a Hobby. Read it here. If anything, it’s become a lovely place for me to post scans from my sketchbook. I’d love for more people to contribute – my dear friend Ella got the ball rolling with this post – and I’ll get there, it’s a work in progress. Success is long patience, etc, etc.
  4. I’m off to Glastonbury in three days and 17 hours! I have that much time to get my kidneys back in action for a week-long binge of Strongbow. Wish me luck!

 

Until next time,

T.A.L x

‘Tis the season, no, not that season (quite yet), but another season: An ode to autumn

This is from my 2011 scrapbook! I know right! Original images. Don't get used to it.
This is from my 2011 scrapbook! I know right! An original image. Don’t get used to it.

Happy Fireworks night. I don’t feel so firework-y tonight (long, heartfelt sigh), I’m just gonna have a huge bowl of spaghetti and read a book. I wrote this at the start of October but it’s been laying dormant until now – so sorry if it’s already a little outdated. Like, if this post was a fresh leaf when it was written in late-September, early-October, it’ll now be a mushed-up, rained-on mixture of pulp and chewing gum mashed into some pavement somewhere. Such is life. 

Look – I don’t know if it’s anything to do with the fact that both my parents were born within a week of each other at the crossover of September into October, so it’s ingrained into my DNA make-up or whatever; perhaps I’m overly sentimental for things like transitions and change and every other darned thing a writer can get sentimental about (SPOILER: everything)

Maybe it’s the familiarisation of routine that sets back in after a long summer: early nights, hearty meals, people bonding miserably over the miserable and changeable weather; maybe I’m a witch, whatever, who even cares – but autumn is my lady.

There is just something about darkness setting in earlier, leaves browning and yellowing and dark purpling, lying dead on the ground; that smell when they get rained on, get dried, and then turn into autumn sludge again. 

This season has more memories for me than any other. In the way that childhood/adolescence is often portrayed in films – hanging out with your friends all summer long, in sepia – I don’t feel as nostalgic about the summer as I do the autumn. (I spent a good few of my summer holidays as a child counting down the days until I could get back to school)

Autumn feels a lot more familiar than other seasons. Autumn and I are friendly to each other. Well, I say friendly. Ms. A.T gives me the gift of big, woollen jumpers, increased portion sizes with every meal (it’s getting colder – I need to be insulated) and this. I mean, I don’t listen to that all the time, although I wish I could say I did – but all I’m saying is autumn provides us with all the tools we need to stay in, get our heads down, and begin to create things. We don’t give it anything, we just sort of walk around in it. But thanks anyway, autumn!

Applying to online courses, looking up university degrees, pitching ideas to magazines. Maybe I link this time of year to being at school, slightly perspiring from the dusty heaters cranked up to 11.  Autumn feels pretty studious – until the clocks go back and you’re all ‘I’ll stay in Dreamland for another six or seven hours, thank you” – but there is a brief changeover period where I feel like getting my head down and getting to it.

I hope this feeling of wanting to begin new things prevails throughout the rest of my life. It’s convenient getting stuck into new projects at the start of the season when there’s stationary deals going on in every store across the world as everyone’s getting geared up for another academic year. 

Once we get into winter, every evening is a prime Netflix and chill time. And I don’t even mean Netflix and chill, I just mean Netflix and chill. Unfortunately.

Autumn, on the other hand, is pretty expectant. Suddenly, I have to face the fact that there is LESS than two months left in the year. The year! Like, Christmas, guys! Again!

And as I have to pretty much dismiss the potential of doing anything at all in the winter (hibernation, impending eternal darkness, Netflix), I always feel so inspired to spend time on my own, reading books I’ve been saving up all summer, scrapbooking everything I’ve been collecting over the last few months, taking time out to check in with myself and make sure I’m set for the long and cold winter (kind of like a squirrel collecting nuts).

As the nights get colder, it becomes way too easy to indulge nightly in mass social media-ing. I’ve recently deleted my Instagram, because although it’s great fun, it was stopping me from getting all my shit done by the time it needed to be.

[EDIT] That other girl that deleted her Instagram this week got loads of attention online, possibly because she was ‘goals’. Although she cried about being ‘goals’, so everyone was all “This girl was goals for her hot bod, now she’s goals for taking a stand on what is becoming a boring and negative daily ritual for many. The girl is just GENERALLY goals.” I deleted my Instagram and NOBODY even noticed. So I’m not goals, but I’ll do.

I thought it was about time to get rid of all those distractions as I work full-time and have so much I want to do in the evenings. The small solo projects I’m working on now may not amount to anything, but it’s not a waste of time. Use these precious autumnal opportunities to their full potential. It may be the compost that’ll turn into that good idea. Stay in for the night, turn your phone off, throw a huge jumper on, and work all the way through to the witching hour. (‘Tis the season, non?) Pritt-sticking, writing, painting, practising cartwheels: Use your time wisely, and get to it.

(Just for the archive, my first play is on in a couple of weeks (16-17 November)! I’ll probably write more about it and the process of writing it soon, when I have a few spare hours. I’m soooo proud of it. Now I just want to get started on something else! A feature film! A fashion line! A symphony!)

On making busy happen because otherwise you’d be, er, so ‘not busy’, and why it’s okay to sit and wait

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Bathers at the European Health Spa in St. Petersburg, Russia National Geographic | November 1973

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.

Mr Foley:

“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.

Foley continues:

“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.

Further reading:
Rookie’s Krista Burton wrote this about the joy of things that take TIME.
http://www.rookiemag.com/2015/07/literally-the-best-thing-ever-decades-long-projects/

Mike’s book. Really worth your precious minutes.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Age-Absurdity-Modern-Makes-Happy/dp/1847396275/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438117815&sr=1-2 

Auf wiedersehn!

T.A.L x