All the Best

I am not ok with being anything less than the best. It’s not really the same as being competitive. I just don’t like to be placed in any context where I’m not the best at what I’m doing. I wish really, that when we were choosing our options in school and college, that thought had not been there. I let it rule me to an extent. But I think it’s natural not to want to be compared to others unless you know you’re going to come out on top. Who wants to know that they’re in any position where people have surpassed them somehow, where some of their flaws have been so obvious that others have made them look pathetic, weak, second-rate, even if just for a moment, or in ‘trivial’ ways. Somehow, they picked a point in you and didn’t like it. They liked the other person better. That person is cooler, sexier, bigger, cleverer, faster, harder, stronger, more genuine, more talented, more impressive. You are disposable.
Best of three?

Mostly…

Watching a play that I started writing with my friend-come-colleague-come-housemate about a year and a half ago, and finished five months ago, take place in full colour and detail in a real theatre space.

Hearing the wild variety of comments and compliments about it all, wondering how much we are the better for our foes than our friends in this respect.

Wanting to write another play people like.

Enjoying taking a whole day to get up.

Spending time on making myself look how I want to.

Aspiring to do things that I feel are well within my capabilities but somehow seem out of reach.

Thinking about mirrors.

Do Not Sing or Make Eye Contact: A Study in Anthropology

Do not sing or make eye contact, do not sing or make eye contact. For God’s sake do not do anything that you were made to do.

Sometimes I stand outside myself, watching. I think, if only, if only you would just keep from doing that, I can love you. Just for God’s sake, do not sing or make eye contact.

I remember first coming to really like Louise. We were talking and bumbling around at work, and I was glancing everywhere, looking down, shuffling backwards unconsciously, retreating into my safe ‘I’m not that interested anyway’ zone; I suppose that’s what it is, why else would I do it? In fact, I think it was when I first asked if she’d like to hang out some time… Makes sense… And she took a large, unnatural side step to be in my eyeline, in very close proximity. And the move made me so happy, so relieved and released from what I was doing, that I was ever-grateful to her. She had overtly, loudly snapped me out of my shell and made it impossible to continue any awkwardness.

And I find myself copying her. It’s a move I’ve picked up now, repeated, but it’s now a natural instinct for me, like it must have been for her – I imagine maybe we have both felt similar things when we have each done it in our separate moments; maybe I’m evolving out of that shyness and into someone who gets agitated and desperate to advance friendships and conversations in a more relaxed way, to break the barriers people like the old me seem to put up.

I look awkward in my skin to me, like a child trying on her mother’s clothes and meeting strangers, caught in the act, being constantly called on the new things she’s trying out. Before she can think about it, answering the questions and the highlights that, later, will make her regret herself. She was so new to all this and so in awe of herself, even the stranger could tell she wasn’t ready.

Longing

I spent a very quiet day in a very loud cinema today. I didn’t speak much myself, not much of substance. Nothing that would advance any opinions of me in any particular direction. Around me people swarmed in and out of new and quickly ageing films, pieces of artwork belonging to those faraway, incredibly lucky souls that are deemed genius for their efforts in sentiment and style. Again, I stand and stare out of giant windows. Again, I bite my tongue in the presence and unearned grace of rude people of all creeds and classes, I make friends and play silly games with them in an attempt to keep all of this hair-greying at bay. Make me feel young, I ask. But you are, they remind me.

I watch many, many people I know walk past me, sometimes a few in one day, as I stand stuck in the mud behind a counter that maybe is just an excuse not to shout when really it’s the distance, the not-quite-close-and-face-facing-enough that keeps you from calling out to people because they probably wouldn’t hear you, and even if they did they might not be able to tell it was you from that distance, and even if they did, they might not remember you… and it would be awkward.

Lola and her daddy were in today, and I just watched her run around the foyer in a giddy game, get tired, throw a paddy, and finally be taken home in a pushchair. It took me a moment to consider that I recognised her, that I might have a right to look at her and to care how she was, and soon afterwards they were all gone. Like this, my life, memories, friends and acquaintances pass me by. I could even have imagined them all completely. No interaction. No evidence. No progression. A synopsis, an epilogue of each person I’ve known writing itself assumingly in my mind. It’s kind of like a day spent on Facebook. Only more romantic.

‘Longing’ Kevin Clark

Acting Down

How strange a threesome is. Any combination of three people, anywhere. I find it funny how the dynamic between any two friends can adjust, grow, show its face, hide its face badly, when another person is around. You can work yourself up to a certain point of understanding, maturity, open-mindedness perhaps, and when put in the spotlight in front of a third wheel, you feel the need to act up.

Or rather, down. I find it particularly interesting that there might be something inside people that makes them adjust to their friends agewise. Maybe you spend more time than normal talking about kissing and boys and kissing boys with your younger friends; maybe you remind yourself what books you read in college to talk to your older friends. All in a subconscious manner. Not premeditating or stalking. This is within the realm of mutual understanding. I am interested in what it takes to ‘click’. What people change in themselves, knowingly or not.

I have always had friends from multiple social circles, people who haven’t necessarily gotten on with each other, and have definitely experienced that uncomfortable birthday party at which I have to do all the entertaining in separate bouts, guilt-ridden and distracted because no one else would make the effort with each other. Thank god for grown-up land, in that respect. Yes, it may be that everyone I meet these days is ten years younger than me, and seemingly the only people older are sixty-odd, but I do appreciate being able to walk into work without looking at the rota and spending time accommodating the idea of whoever I’m scheduled on with, and not having that feeling rebuked at any point during the day but instead getting on with work in solitude and then turning around to find A, B, or C standing in front of me saying ‘Hello,’ and not feeling awkward at all. And before you try to dismiss this as my personal hang up, I am well aware I’m not the only one.

So, being an actress, I suppose, I consider my many facets, and how each one is received, and by whom. I wonder what to do with all this material. What I must come across as. Gasp… Surely not… My true, rounded, real, flawed and varying self? And if that’s what I’m discovering, what the hell do I do with that?

Next time I’m alone with two of my friends, I’ll be taking note of myself. I have no real thesis, or aim. But it’s something that’s pricked my ears recently.

Owning it

Torn. (What’s new?) Today I’m allowing that feeling to surround my separate desires to read and to write. Recently I have found several blogs and websites that I enjoy reading, respect the writers thereof, and where I actually hunger for the next chapter when I have read up to date. Somehow my subscription features aren’t working very well and so aren’t alerting me of new posts, which even annoys me a little bit. I feel that, having expressed the wish and the loyalty, I deserve some right to the next chapter. I should be told first. Surely?

I am wasting yet more time thinking about how little time there is; trying to decide how to dole it out between reading all these things that interest me, feed me, teach me, and writing new material of my own. I feel I should be more academic, should have source material, background reading, field research. But I would also like to have some new ideas to my name. To be seen to be producing work regularly.

To that end, here is one thing I can call my own:

Little Things

At the news of a new arrival in the family, I start to wonder about our existing connections. One of my best friends from school had a baby girl just over a year ago, and I was so excited, so ready to play auntie, but so far away that it turns out I haven’t been very present at all. And I wonder, even considering how much closer, technically, this new little one will be, whether it will actually make life any different. Being at the other end of the country, will I ever get to see it?

I wonder why my mum doesn’t make more of an effort to come and visit me at my home. This is, after all, my home now. I have lived here for roughly¬† six years and have a base, a house I like, a steady boyfriend, a set of close friends who are on my wavelength (finally), a steady job (and that’s no small thing now) and a burgeoning career. And it’s all here.

I do worry that I will never do all the things I desperately wanted to all my life; travel, make a difference, learn languages, explore cultures. I used to dream that my ‘One’ was a black French boy. Somewhere, some time. Not anyone I’ve ever met. Just an image. I wanted to build schools in Africa, I wanted to go and save wild animals from poachers, and speak Italian as convincingly as any native. I still do. I want to do a creative writing MA at Bath. I want to be alone for a while. I want to have children. I want to do lots of things. How do you choose? And how do you decide when? I feel restricted by the very dream that I am currently living. Can they not all co-exist? I know my friend and business partner would firmly believe in doing it all, and all at once, but I know my weaknesses, and am dubious that I am such a Wonderwoman as she is. And she really is. She represents to me something I used to think I was, something that got replaced with the disillusionments I owe to school and college, and all the lecturers that said, “This is it. Get used to it.” The Maths teacher who showed us about the intellectual ‘plateau’ that became a self-fulfilling prophesy for me. Maybe that’s where all this uncertainty began. Before then I was excited, engaged, nervous, obsessed with things like¬† women’s chests that were bigger than mine.

It’s not that I want to be shown a bigger picture, have my destiny talked through with a fine-toothed comb; it is enough for me to feel the presence of it, a looming but pleasantly comforting awareness.

I am spending my energy on appreciating the little things. Hugs, human touch, long chats about nothing. Trying new things, to me, at the moment, means buying grapes for a change. I still yearn for more, still have hope that there is more meaning to us being here. Surely beautiful things have been written because there is so much more to life than I have experienced. There is something I don’t understand yet. I would like to think. I am not so simple that I would take the arrogant road and be happy in all I know now. I am hungry. I want to learn. And do. I am, as ever, I suppose, unsettled. Itchy feet.

So, little brother… What I guess I’m trying to say is… I would like to be around more. A lot. I would like to know you. And do everything else as well.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sere_c/4587063126/
(Something that I found in looking for a more relevant image, but that inspired me and made me want to share it anyway.)