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Posting delays

I’ve had a slightly strange couple of months, hence the posting delay. Taking a break from here (I say that as if my posting was regular, watched by millions and so this excuse is necessary. Awkward.) was important because I didn’t want to share how I was feeling angry and disappointed.

Being unemployed is a really mixed blessing. I had a horrible final year and there’s nothing more I want to say on it, so all I needed afterwards was to pause and become normal again. I needed time unemployed with no responsibilities to make up for having 60-bajillion responsibilities throughout my second term, but I have essentially been killing time since May now. Having time to sleep and look after myself has been good, but having no purpose or having no confirmation of when this monotony will end has been less good. It’s difficult trying to not waste my time feeling resentful, but I wonder if I went back in time and told my 17/18 year old self that having a degree would disadvantage me for casual jobs and give me no advantage for the ones that I dream of, I probably wouldn’t have come to university. It’s tough being £20k in debt with the knowledge of mistakes on my shoulders. Of course now I look back and think that those three years were wonderful and taught me pretty much everything I know, but I don’t feel that they prepared me for any future.

So, I’m back at home. The boxes that sat with uncertainty on my bedroom floor have slowly unpacked themselves; their contents have weedled their way back into my day-to-day existence. I am no longer a guest here, a temporary being, but rather a permanent member. Those boxes, the same ones that are squished full from last-minute university packing at the end of term have been filled with mixtures of things I wanted to find and things I couldn’t help but cry over as I brought them out. Why did I bring them home? Perhaps I thought that these memories would be dealt with or at least understood by the time they were forced back into my present consciousness. Maybe I just wanted to fill the boxes and go home to free food as soon as I could, which meant leaving the sorting until later.

The biggest box of memory sits on my floor with an uneasy promise of nostalgia within. When I directed Titus Andronicus in second term of final year, I submitted it as part of my degree (why write an essay when you can direct a play, I thought, foolishly) and so created a box filled with the details, including a huge and terrifying diary of every idea and rehearsal as I had them. I promised my friend Lily (who, in turn, promises to be a regular reader – hello!), who produced the play, that I would go through that box and write a blog post about why I love it. I do love that play, I still talk about it with fondness, and when I ran a workshop recently I boasted about my cast’s abilities with things like Harry Potter Zip-Zap-Boing. The box was submitted to external moderators as part of the marking, which meant that I wasn’t able to pick it up until the start of December, yet even though I have had it at home for over a month, I still can’t bring myself to look inside. Directing that play was a great experience, even if the finished product wasn’t quite what I wanted (my fault, no blame elsewhere), but there was so much other mess going on in my life at that time that it was much more misery-inducing and stressful than it should have been. As soon as I open that box, I will have to read that diary I wrote while directing and I will be forced to remember. I promise I will do it, but it may take a bit more time.

I’ve never been able to write diaries before. As a child I tried on many occasions, but my life was so boring (clearly creative writing was my outlet: see earlier posts…) that I didn’t have anything of interest to write and they are an embarrassment to look at now. Two choice examples (judging by my writing, you’d guess I was around 3, but the fact that my sister was in Upper-Two means I must have been six/seven and this is horrible and embarrassing for me. )

Sat the 2nd of August

Today we are going to wales on holiday we are going for two for the first week we are going to a converted farm house and for 2nd week we’re going to a cottage.

BYE BYE

The second entry reads:

1. My biggest secret is that the upper-two play is called the wizard of wobbeling rock.

2. I don’t really have a second secret so I gues thiss book is a secret.

This is then followed by a drawing of a fat girl jumping. No self-portrait jokes, please.

The other thing that those bits of creative-writing showed is that I was never much of a writer anyway. I’m trying to write a play at the moment but I’m beating myself up over every word because I can’t get them right, even though I care a lot about what I’m writing. At two of the most important stages of my life, when I could feel myself and the world beneath me changing, I did the lame literature student thing of writing a poem. (I don’t include in that list of two the one I wrote in my first year about a friend who made me very angry: it’s rubbish and not worth sharing because I think he reads this occasionally and I’m over it now, eek)

I wrote the first one in Sixth Form. I’ll admit it was for a competition on the subject of change, but I really took it to heart and it was genuinely important to me.

Change marks the not yet tangible but seemingly solid

movement of time. Temperless optimism lost as sand

filters through the crude bone structure that ebbs,

flows and curls its way to create the new. Fading

dreams no longer attainable dance in the memory like

paper in the wind – there for a moment but lost and un-

x

recognisable until they are gone. Dreams are not all

dreams but the apocalyptic foresight of realisation: the

end is nigh and Cotardian beliefs slip upon us just for a

moment, as if remembering past lives or emotional

strays. Inheritance comes upon us and we question the

dead, we were invincible until now – we would never join them yet

x

must we? Joining a world of lost souls, growing in all but

maturity – we come of age yet feel the same. Dancing

lights among us reveal the path but must we follow? Too

tempting is the soft comfort we left behind yet

regression is not an option. Juxtaposed against the

Elysium fields in which we, too, danced yet now we

trump and slod and delay, still awkward in the new

stresses of change

I grew up a lot in sixth form. I earned myself a reputation of being boring amongst my old friends, but I also earned myself the university place I had wanted, which was a relief. I think when I wrote this poem I didn’t know where I’d be going, I don’t think I had been accepted yet and I knew it depended on my exam results which were not guaranteed. I have always worried about change and have had varying anxieties since I was quite young. When I wrote this poem, I was feeling anxious about the change not just that I could foresee but also that I knew I had just had. This isn’t about to be some gross puberty paragraph. I think there’s meant to be a psychological moment when you recognise that you’re going to die and I definitely had this quite late in my teens. This poem was written when I had realised that I wasn’t invincible and there could well be future repercussions from a past hedonistic summer. I felt awkward and stressed about change: changes past and changes future.

So here I am 4 years later, once again completely changed. But coming back to this poem for the first time in a long time gives me comfort that I am still awkward, still stressed about change and yet, like then, I am excited. Just like then, my recent past has been full of change and I continue to hope for it in my future. I was angry then and I’m angry now and though the things that impassion and anger me have mostly changed, I take great comfort in reading this and knowing that I am still recognisable. Even if I don’t have complicated syntax and poetry inside me anymore, I have a whole play inside me instead that I am desperate to write. I hope I keep changing, but I hope I don’t ever stop feeling angry and passionate. I hope that in four years time, when I am changed and different, then I can look back and read the things I write now and recognise myself in my feelings about change. It’s cyclical, it makes my head hurt a bit.

While this may all sound unimportant, it’s not. Going back to the beginning (cyclical again, nice touch) and the frustration with being unemployed: the frustration lies in that every day is the same with nothing ever changing and that monotony is pretty depressing. To go through old university things and find this poem makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief that I had no need to worry about change in the past because it turned out ok. And I’m praying that this time it will turn out ok too.

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50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

I occasionally blog-stalk a girl from school (Hi Honor!) who writes a really nice blog about her time at university. Have a look here. She had found a list entitled “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind” and had chosen 10 good questions and answered them seriously and thought provokingly.

I will do no such thing.

I think half the reason this appealed was because it is so reminiscent of those egocentric questionnaires we used to forward around with infuriating speed and enjoy filling in, mostly because we got to admit to piercings, snogging and how well we got on with our parents. Rebellious. So, because I’d like to answer all 50 questions, I’ve tried to answer them quickly. We’ll see how it goes.

x

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

If I looked in the mirror, I’d guess about 20. If I looked at my collection of books, I’d guess 40. If I looked at my collection of shoes I’d guess, like, 12 with horrible taste.

Which is worse, failing or never trying?

Never trying. I got a fringe – I failed at it, because I hate it, but I am pleased I went and done it.

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

Because we’re lazy and don’t live in the Bahamas.

When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

I write a blog because I have too many words in my head. I am clearly all about the talking.

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

REVOLUTION. No more capitalism  and no more bankers please.

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

Eating.

Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

I’m unemployed, which means I sit on the sofa and occasionally go to the gym. I’m starting to make a bum shape into the sofa. Settling.

If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

When the human life span was 40 then girls were married off at like, 13. So, at my grand old age of 21 I’d be feeling very spinstery and probably knitting a basket for my cats and working on a hobby like licking my elbow.

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

I’m a Christian. I believe in a God who knows every decision I’ll make but doesn’t control them.

Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

I wish I were the latter.

You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?

Kick them in the face.

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Buy a waffle maker and use it to buy friends.

Would you break the law to save a loved one?

Depends on the law, depends on the loved one. I’d break a speed limit or sleep in a wheelie bin or knock a policeman’s hat off, but I don’t want to commit now to doing anything more serious.

Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

Yep. I’ve also seen insanity where other people saw creativity. Thank you theatre degree.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

Gesticulate.

How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

Because everyone else is wrong.

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?

Continue running my theatre company. I need moneys.

Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

A moment ago I was chewing the cord on my hoodie until I realised my cat had done the same yesterday. A;ljadkf

If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

Scotland because I want to live in a castle.

Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

Yes and no, I do it because it’s fun.

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

The former is doing me ok for now (snort)

Why are you, you?

Nature, nurture, blah.

Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

Yes, always.

Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

Moving away – I miss people from university.

What are you most grateful for?

Right now my slippers because my feet were cold.

Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

Never be able to make new ones. At least that way I stay the same.

Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

What is truth? Vom.

Has your greatest fear ever come true?

I’m terrified of hitting my head. Twice broken nose, a shattered hard palate, an exposed nerve and two false teeth later I’d say yes.

Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?

Yes, I think about it every day and am grateful for it.

What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?

I was happy for most of my childhood, nothing stands out. Winding up my sister was fun, I remember seeing a man wearing a motorbike helmet and telling Katie to look at his shiny hair and she told me he must use a lot of conditioner. DUHHH HE WAS IN A HELMET

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

On Friday I ran a workshop for KCL about Much Ado About Nothing – it made me remember that theatre is where I’m supposed to be.

If not now, then when?

Right now I’m sitting on the sofa wearing the same hoody I’ve worn for like, 4 months since I graduated, so maybe when I put on better clothes.

If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

My bum shaped dent in the sofa.

Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

No because I know what a conversation is. Plus anybody who knows me knows that I like to fill the silence.

Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

Because there’s oil involved.

Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

I believe in God, Satan, Heaven & Hell. Beyond that I can’t categorise so easily.

If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

My job is sofa-sitting, so yes, maybe. Maybe I’d buy a new sofa. Who knows.

Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

I’d like work please. Any employers reading this?

Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

I have!

When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

What does that even mean? I can see why Honor picked 10 good questions now.

If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

Tom

Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

Do I get to be extremely attractive/famous forever? I don’t want to be old and wrinkly.

What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Being on or off a ventilator.

When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

5pm, when it is right to haulass off the sofa and go have a cup of tea.

If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Because it’s embarrassing.

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

My hair.

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

I have a cold and can hear it right now and it is driving me insane.

What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

I woke my cat up because she looked so cute and she tried to maul my face so I’m going to be more careful with expressions now.

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?

Yesterday, no. The day before I had a job interview (as;dklfja;lksdf) and the day before I ran a workshop. I hope so.

Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

I might assert my decision making skills and make tea now, even if it is only 2.40.

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Final year nostalgia

Like a lot of people, I found my final year really tough. I was constantly overworked and underslept and I look back on a lot of it like it was a bad dream. While at the time I was disappointed not to get a First, I now find it remarkable I even made it through the year. Some time during second term, I discovered one of the halls on campus which was weirdly beautiful, miles away from the ugly prison-block halls I had been cramped in during first year. The lake in the middle, filled with swans, had a tree jutting out, with a bench tacked on around it. It was always empty, and for my two final terms it became my favourite haunt. I’d go down there alone and read and write, sometimes doodling, a couple of times catching up on the work that hung over me, ruining these moments of downtime. When it got to summer, other people started to come and sit there, but they didn’t usually stay, perhaps frustrated that I was more stubborn than they were and I wouldn’t move if I didn’t have to. I’ve idealised the space now, when I tried to find images to show the way it really looked, it looked mundane and ugly, a dark and man-made puddle between boring redbrick buildings, but it doesn’t change it for me.

During third term, I bought an ugly notebook I could doodle in. I didn’t get very far, I’ve never been as much of a doodler, despite coming from a family of far more than doodlers. I claim no gift at art, I know it’s about practise, but I haven’t practised and this is no false modesty. I really am not good at drawing. Regardless, I drew this and wrote with it. (Apologies about my fingernails, I can’t find my camera so was forced to use my webcam)

I don’t come down here innocently – movies play through my mind and romanticise my blonde hair that blows around. Rather than flying in my face it should blow about, making me Kathy on the moors. My paper is lined, not the sketchbook I imagine I own, but its crude brother, ring-bound and tatty, expectant for words to be impregnated upon its fair skin, merely providing the vessel for catharsis and musings. Instead, my disappointing drawings and awkward, pretentious logorrhoea grey its pages with the wrong pencil for sketching. To HB or not to HB? I will never be enough, always brimming over with words and rhymes (at my best), rather than the drawings that claim not to but will always want out of me. I will never be the artist’s daughter, I will always be making the wrong meaning, misinterpreting.

I made a promise to myself at the end of university to leave the house every day. I was lucky enough to spend my final year living in a house full of talented and wonderful people, two of which were involved in the production of an opera at the end of our final term. The days after exams finished, then, were strange, a mixture of busy socialising, going from one meeting to another, and days when if I didn’t leave the house I could manage to see no other people all day. But how to fill days out of the house? My love of clothes meant living in a town with not-half-bad-shopping could mean leaving the house daily was pretty dangerous for my bank account. So I tried to find new spaces on campus. Some days it would get to the evening before I would realise I hadn’t kept my own promise and I would pull on clothes and force myself out of the house. One day stands out, I had the novel I was struggling through (who knew a literature degree would make it so hard to read?), my ugly notebook and, thankfully, my umbrella in my bag as I left the house to go back to this bench-lined tree, but as I walked the half-mile to the bus stop, I remember thinking that I was grateful for tights. The sky was a very ominous grey and the street lamps were already on: while it was light, it was darkening and glooming over and surprisingly cold. By the time I got to campus, the rain had obscured the bus windows and made heavy knocking noises on the metal, yet by the time I had got off the bus, the rain was reduced. Still wet enough to make my hair go weird, still wet enough to make the air muggy and bleak, but perhaps not wet enough to justify the umbrella I clutched. Walking to my favourite spot seemed stupid, but I am and was far too stubborn to consider just staying on that bus and going home. If I was out of the house, I was damn-well going to be out of the house. My leather jacket on the sodden steps, I sat down at one of the central points in campus and began to doodle. I drew the space in front of me, and once again decided to write.

Not sure what Monday means. The world walks past, they are in skirts too short and smartest shirts for scoring. Cellulite dimples its way past me, the lone one in opaque tights with my brolly spinning over my shoulder and goosebumps rippling my bare shoulders in a way that should get them too, but fake tan and trowelled on foundation protect them from the elements. The awkward modern building juts in front of me, every pillar and 45° angle rigid and misunderstanding, inappropriate. The floor, littered with beer-branded detritus contrasts those clean lines and stinks of the disappointment that building provided. Others, like me, alienated perhaps by the dolled up, desperate dollies, stroll past, their heads down, perhaps not confident enough to raise an umbrella in what can only be called drizzle.

As I said, final year was tough. These bits of writing seem more bleak now, looking back on them, than they did at the time. I probably just thought I was being perceptive. Finding this notebook was part of a clearing of university things, everything is drenched in nostalgia, ticket stubs clutched and marked with cracked fold lines from being stuffed in pockets during plays, postcards, bought and sent and received and thank you cards, littered with signatures from characters I once understood. But while this notebook seems now to be more grumpy than I’d originally realised, it was lovely finding a note from a friend that I’d forgotten him writing.

Perhaps the most complimentary line of it was him writing “you were… THE OPPOSITE OF BORING”. That sounds sarcastic, but it meant a lot. He was always a lot cooler than me.

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