Extract from ‘Bed’

An extract from a short film I wrote with a boyfriend a few years ago, entitled Bed.

It is far more heartbreaking to find a girl that you know will never get laid. Instinctively, aesthetically, naturally, women are prettier than men. They have curves, big eyes, they care about their clothes. Men have stubble, they fight, they fart, they sweat.

We are somehow lead to believe – maybe it’s the truth, maybe it’s Hollywood – that any man, no matter what we might think on first impression, is actually really attractive. Men see finished works of art in women. Women see potential in men. And in my book, a finished work of art that couldn’t boil an egg, that’s still fine.

On reflection: I still find it interesting that we flock to the underdogs. We are told by Hollywood that people are unattractive because they wear glasses or braces, or have a certain hairstyle. They transform and voila, they are more attractive than the previous love interest. Instead of reinforcing the moral fairytale message they intended regarding looks vs personality, they actually just serve to confuse our dainty ladies’ hearts as to what makes for an attractive set of features.

The idea that any man could be attractive becomes the notion that every man is, and quickly, we should be the first one to notice before he becomes a cult sensation; what with the influx of ‘hispter’dom and the fashion of understatement and downplaying. You almost get more sex points the more unattractive you make yourself. How long does that appeal last? How long has this been a thing? Whatever happened to the Golden Ratio?

Bizarro Me

Image from Wikipedia

How hard it must be to write about the polar opposite of yourself. How are we to know ourselves? And when describing our opposites, thus defining ourselves, surely our desires and ambitions of self-image will come into play, skewing the resulting image. For example, I think the Bizarro me would be completely carefree and easygoing, without worry. But is that just a quality I aspire to myself? Yes. How do I know where I fit on that scale? I also guess my opposite would be sexually promiscuous, because I am loyal and careful myself. But again, the promiscuity comes up in fantasy for me. Perhaps that’s what our opposites do? Act our our unulfilled dreams? Achieve our aspirations? Or would my opposite be someone who dreamed of opposing qualities, but was equally unsure of how to achieve those things, or indeed whether they had already? Food for thought…

One thing I know I do is value honesty. So my polar opposite would be very dishonest, or closed. She would hate James Bond and period dramas, be good with people and streetwise. She would have strong self-discpline around food, sleep and love. She would be ‘cool’. She would rarely smile and be difficult to amuse.

Another, slightly connected thought going round my head tonight is: When do I turn into a proper woman? When do I become good at baking and sewing and crochet and stuff like that? I see a lot of social network updates on cakes and other handmades, and think it’s all really impressive. I used to make cakes. I used to cook a lot of things. Before shift work took over my life and all my energy. I used to make a mean curry. I used to host an open mic night. I used to be good at a lot of things that I have kind of lost sight of recently. Perhaps just a void in my creative satisfaction that can be filled when we build up our cabaret and festival presence as performers. Doesn’t take long for that hunger to come back after a show finishes.

If this is a box, then get in it!

Almost completely irrelevant (and slightly skewed) quote for a title there, but hey, I’m a Storyteller fan.

“If this is a sack, then get in it!”
Image from http://www.henson.com/jimsredbook/2012/08/12/810-171987/

I categorise people. I box them. For better or for worse, (“for richer, or for poorer.”*) I give people labels to file them away under in my mind. I noticed just how general I made this habit the other day when I called someone selfish. Now, the one thing this person does that was being condemned was not entirely enough to earn the label ‘selfish’. The word is not even the most fitting or articulate to describe their bad habit. It made me check myself. What a strong, negative word to use to describe one of my friends. Why? Why do I feel that way about someone I hold fairly close? How can I be so dismissive? Are they expendable to me? It made me realise that for some people I make excuses. I accommodate their personal quirks and idiosyncrasies, make small adjustments. For some people, for some reason, I don’t do that.

I ran this by a friend, who reminded me that we exercise this judgemental practise because we do not have time to love everyone. Not 100%. We don’t have time to treat everyone equally; pay them the same amount of attention, affection, forgiveness, openness, interest, love. We have to draw the line somewhere. Yes, we may be unfair or unforgiving sometimes. But with the amount of people who come in and out of our lives, we could not possibly function if we were to devote each person the same amount of allowances and expectations. We would spend all day every day just maintaining relationships. We would be meeting from dusk till dawn, socialising, apologising, catching up, trying to progress. We would run down. Because being in the company of others is tiring. It’s a kind of service, almost.

No one else in the wide world will ever think exactly as you do. At least, not in a tangible way. How can I be so sure? It’s like Schrödinger’s cat. It can never be proved either way. You will never, ever, be able to tell for fact that someone else has had the exact same thought or opinion as you have. Perhaps owing to the nature of how we communicate, humans are most often making guesses and assumptions (not to mention assimilations – our memories, including event memory and personality memory** must have some bearing on how we interpret information as we receive it) from their interactions with others, because when it comes to hard science, it is impossible to do more than that. We may use ‘definitive’ language sometimes, but even the definitions have been agreed upon by humans, and carry human perception with them; which is as different from one person to the next as the variety between two snowflakes. Words and what we associate with them are as changeable as colours are undefinable and unknowable from one eye to the next. Maintaining a connection based on such different visions tied together with words is  difficult, unlikely, exhausting. (For me, anyway, who knows what everyone else thinks? Not me. Perhaps more telling about my own psyche and social skills than about human nature.)

So, we depend on very tenuous connections to maintain our relationships with each other. And these connections are constructed in our own minds, serving nothing but our own individual purposes. We decide what and who we care about, who we make the effort with, who we keep in our company. (In the privileged society I belong to, anyway.) And it is all based on our perceptions. This becomes rather a which-came-first situation for me; Do I dislike someone because they did this, or do I dislike that they did that because I dislike them as a person? At what point do we start or stop making excuses for people, attempting to understand them? What makes us dismiss them? Is it that we have arrived at the decision that we cannot gain anything more from them? They no longer serve their purpose? I do believe in ‘vibes’ somewhat; anyone with a decent ’emotional IQ’ can tell to an extent when someone is annoyed with them, hurt, sad, joyful, or carrying any other undertone in the subtext of their interaction. Obviously, emotional intelligence ranges as widely as a normal intelligence in humans, and so ‘signs’ must go missed or misinterpreted sometimes, just like language. Perhaps we base a lot of our internal relationship constructs and histories on tragically untrue assumptions. But hey, whatever works for us, right?

I am sure this is not where this train of thought ends, but I shall put it down for now. What are your thoughts?

*My best friend happens to be getting married today, which no doubt has had some bearing on all these philosophical/philanthropic wonderings.

**Personality memory being assumptions we have made based on eventual memories, in order to help us make quicker decisions in the future.

In search of my MA

I am at a big fat metaphorical crossroads, to put it lightly. I have pressed pause in order to take stock of where my life is at and where it is headed, and to remember if nothing else but for nostalgia, where I wanted it to be when I was younger. Except, I don’t want to just reminisce. I want to evolve. I want to change my life and live it to the fullest, in a way I feel is more ‘right’ for me. I want to truly hone in on my principles, my priorities, my beliefs, and allocate them the time and devotion that they deserve.

I am considering going back to education because a) my friend is and is quite pushy, b) it would give me time out from the misery of working life taking me away from my creative practise, and c) I feel I am missing direction at the moment, and would like to invest my time in something that will give me a qualification or some other kind of reward at the end. I had an encouraging chat at my university about their Performance MA course, which not only sounded quite positive in terms of what it could offer me (“time out to exist and develop your own individual creative persona”) but also reminded me of other MAs that have sparked my interest; namely, creative writing at Bath Spa. Both of these courses accept applicants on the basis of an impressive portfolio; which I believe I could deliver, more easily in the former case, but probably not both at once if I’m to give it my absolute best effort. And if I’m applying for the latter, (something I hold in high regard due to hearsay of respected opinions in my life, and perhaps, ahem, partly due to the fact that it’s in the South…) I will need to give it more than my best effort if I’m not to die of mortifying embarrassment and regret.

I am taking the time to step back and analyse things, to read up, check myself, and to keep an open mind always. I am saying yes more, even if only to the initial stages of at least finding outmore before I reject possibilities.

I am keen to hear from others who have completed MA courses and have something to say on how they benefited from them, what they learned, what they might recommend. From anyone working in my field I would be most interested to hear what approach, what area of study, what voice and imagery came out of your practise. What kind of initial research questions did you go in with, and how helpful was it over the course of your projects?

Part of me is simply hoping that this will make me more eligible one day for a PhD, whatever that means, so that I can be “Dr.”.

What is most important to me? What am I good at? Do I really want to take what feels like a step backwards and consign myself to the same city and views for the next two years? What will it ultimately do for me? And is that worth my money and time? I have, after all, been warned already that, “It won’t get you a job.” What am I really seeking? In relationships, in work, in my home, my body, my future?

What have you learned from your studies, or your life? What is important to you? What are the wisest, most enriching, rewarding thoughts or lifestyles or habits or beliefs that you have ever come across?

Identity Crisis

… Suffering from one. Recent chats with my boyfriend and a close friend have pushed me to question my habits, predicaments, behaviours, thought processes. Even my self-perception, which is pretty unchanging. I’ve been wanting to do a sort of re-evaluation of all things that make me me for a while anyway. Scrubbing away the debris of old likes and re-instilling my excitement for what used to make me tick. I cleared out all my old homemade compilation CDs. Rearranged the piles of Have/Sell/Empty DVDs. Gok-Wan-ed my wardrobe. Am trying to make more time to rediscover the joy of reading. There are lots of things I have forgotten about or neglected somehow. Now I am trying to bring them back. But only what I need.

This recent quandary is to do with who I am in a social context. Up until a few years ago, I was a very quiet, solitary, independent woman who had a favourite colour, a favourite meal, and a lot of alone time. Then a relationship hit. Things got serious and I got paid a lot of attention. It’s been hard to shake the feelings of manipulation and subversion I was left with. I think I felt suppressed for the first time. My feelings were out of my control. I was not allowed what I considered basic freedoms without a garnishing guilt.

Now, in a much freer position and circumstance, I have been taking advantage of my born-again teenage status. I am allowed to network, have active friendships, invest time in various areas of my life and relationships; whatever I feel like at the time. I have a very accepting boyfriend. My problem lies exactly here. He is the kind who loves me unconditionally, farts and all. And I worry that I am swaying too far in the opposite extreme from where I was before. Am I being too selfish? I have been most disconcerted (in a constructive, pensive way) by how my friends see us in comparison to themselves. Which has been merely solid food for thought. I understand that our own life has to be determined by what we find works best for us. That’s just it. Getting the balance right so that it serves both of us well. An unhappy him makes for an unhappy me, and vice versa.

I am starting to see myself as a grown up. He and I are alone in our world. When we live together, it will be me and him vs the world, using our tools, our habits, our vocabulary, to make sense of the day-to-day and to reach a new kind of harmony together. Alone together.

With that in sight, I think I have been trying to cram friend time and social activities in as much free space as possible, making the most of this ‘freedom’. Sometimes forgetting that the freedom also allows for me to choose to spend time with the boyfriend, should that be my first choice. Which it is. I look forward to him being around in my space full-time. Maybe I can distance myself from these presuppositions enough to gauge exactly what it is I (we) need, to fit in the necessary alone time and also the together time.

The Morning After The Night Before

Ok, so I didn’t get up until about 12pm. But I thought I’d take advantage of the subdued contemplation that seems to fill the air today, the morning after the night before.

One thing has occurred to me today – something I feel may explain a rather hungry gap inside my psyche – perhaps my dawdling mind’s submission to the phrase ‘use it or lose it’ is something to do with the fact that, for quite a few years now, I have not been very close with my dad.

Dad and I used to do things together. We disassembled and reassembled computers, studying all the parts, we dug and filled ponds (not just with water, but our very own micro-cultures of weeds and wildlife), we trekked up mountains and he’d tell me (sigh-worthy at the time) stories of his favourite memories that had just been jogged, we picked up dead creatures and fungus and inspected them, we discovered. And when I lived with him, he would be there to answer questions. Whenever they came up for me. If he was at work, I’d ask him later. We would always eat together (He was pretty strict on that point, and having been fed up with the autonomy then, it is a habit I now deem worth taking advantage of while you have it in your power to eat together. The phrase “You’ll thank me later” springs to mind, funnily enough, like everything else that is appearing in my life in twos at the moment. Oh, parental clichés.) We would discuss things; something I always found engaging and fruitful until it started to involve my performances. Something a little too personal there. I have never been good at taking criticism and instead tend to defend mercilessly my clearly rough first drafts of anything. If it’s good enough for me, it’s finished and infallible…

Anyway, I believe that I was far more mentally active when I was little. Maybe it changed when my brother came along and my dad had two little minds to fascinate and befriend. Maybe it happened when I moved away from home. Maybe when I finished my education and moved into full-time work. Disillusionment aside, a lot has changed since I was three years old and had time in a day to demand to be thrown in the air and swing between my dad’s legs, to make a painting with some glue and pasta, to trip to the park and get disproportionately jealous of someone else’s Ribena, despite not even liking it, (Sorry, Mum) to get on with climbing trees when older girls were getting bothered about boys, to write down everything I did in that day because it assumed to be worth an illustrated story. To watch and ponder Chorlton and the Wheelies.

Image from Talkback Thames

I miss these days, but things have changed and they most likely won’t come again. I am going to have to find other ways to re-instill my habits of curiosity and discovery. Time moves on, and whether we’re staggering along behind it or fresh and ready for what’s to come, it’s up to you to keep track of where you are and where you want to be.

Darcy Isla: A Tragedy in One Word

Doing a dutiful read-up on upcoming film releases, I came across this under The Muppets:

THE BUZZ: (Nudist) Jason Segel…”

Thereafter the mention of his – hobby? – was completely irrelevant, forgotten, just a fact or feature of Segel’s habits that tickled the writer. I felt as if I’d been delivered the opening of a story and then cut off. Other suggested implications are up for grabs, though surely they would not have meant, ‘Nudity? In a family film?!’ (outraged in tone) because obviously the human body in its purest form is a glorious thing, right? Wrong. In America, at least.

Aside from the delicious psychological intrigue I saw in this, it made me wonder which one word I might be preceded by. Makes for an interesting variation on (BA) or (PhD). If I thought of what I see as my defining (or must public) traits, I suppose I would end up with something like (Tragedy) Darcy Isla. Not in a melodramatic sense, but more akin to the Greek meaning of the word, as in ‘waste of potential’. I would like to believe I am distanced from Dylan Moran‘s ‘starvling cat’ image of the universal average of true potential, and that instead there is some kind of ‘secret eagle’ in there. “Don’t open the door!” he warns; we must not think on it, we must keep this disappointment hidden from ourselves. I for one would rather disappoint myself, and in doing so, gradually gain a more comprehensive perspective on me and my abilities, lackings and needs. If nothing else, at least to be more decisive when choosing milkshake flavours or new perfume.

I am adding it to my projects list to find more interesting ways to describe myself, alongside a search for perfect places to read.