Friday, 12 August 2016

Specs, baby.

I've been thinking a lot (read: wholly too much) about what this space has evolved into. Writing consistently here is something I've not managed to do for a long while. At first that weighed heavily on me, thinking 'oh I should be writing' at every possibility because I really wasn't busy. I had the time to invest, but I just couldn't bring myself to write. And now I can see that time away has allowed things to become clearer. It's like when you're standing close to a vast piece of art; you can see the details but they don't make sense because you haven't had a glimpse of the whole.

It's only now I see that this is a lo-fi space. It's not a curated collection of finished pieces because nothing I'm working on is remotely close to being finished. And I can't curate my thoughts because when I try to do that, it's like putting the plug back in to a swirling whirlpool of water - nothing can leave and everything becomes still. Instead this is a place for everyday moments that together may seem insignificant, but actually they unite to form life. Things that happen. Thoughts. Dreams. Hopes. Goals. Things I've bought, which are very few and far between these days. Things I didn't buy, of which there are many. Things I like and those I don't. The highs, the lows, the things in the middle. It's all real life. And that's what this has to be.

And so here are a few words about my new glasses. My new, extortionately expensive glasses. I don't like to think about how much they cost AND they were half price because they talked me into joining the monthly contact lens scheme. But y'know, gotta invest in your vision. Slightly strange glasses are my favourite. After years of oversized black plastic frames, my aesthetic this time (until my eyes invariably get worse and I need a stronger prescription) is middle aged man meets Harry Potter. Middle aged Harry Potter. And, so far, I'm pretty pleased with my decision.



Monday, 1 August 2016

Dear August

August, already. It almost doesn't seem possible.

I've been thinking a lot about being busy and what that really means. There are different kinds of busy, but it's almost as if there has been some kind of strange competition as to who can be, or at least appear to be, the busiest at any given time.

There's being unsustainably busy, when you've taken on more than can ever be achieved in a particular time frame, but you keep ploughing on because it's the only thing that you know how to do and risk burning out completely. There's being busy but not being especially productive. And there's being distinctly unbusy.

The latter is something I've actively sought to perfect for a long while. I thought that by giving myself enough down time, things wouldn't ever feel too overwhelming and I could mentally check out for a bit. Of course, I was wrong, because it left too much time available for me to wander around the deep recesses of my mind, and the space to overthink myself into oblivion.

My previously allocated free time is now taken up by some freelance writing. It's not the most exciting, or particularly well paid. But I'm almost not really doing it for the money, although I definitely need that too at the moment. However, writing for someone else seems to have allowed for the rediscovery of my motivation, that seemed to have wandered off for a while, to write for myself. It's true when they say that ideas aren't exhaustible.

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say here is that it turns out there's such a thing as 'just the right kind of busy' and it's far better than being unbusy.

August, you look good.

I've got an appointment to finally get some contact lenses again, so I can reclaim my face from the burden of glasses sometimes. Wearing glasses isn't something I mind too much, but if I can find some lenses to suit my eyes then it'll be nice to have a bit of choice again.

We're going to London to see the Cursed Child this month and I'm hoping that I can avoid all spoilers until then. It's been far too long since I've been to the theatre. I don't know that excited is quite the right word, which I suppose is why I haven't bought a copy of the script yet, but I'm certainly curious. There have been a few think pieces recently talking about how JK should just stop, or that she's messing with childhoods. And I don't see that. There's always going to be a clamouring for more insight into that world, and I'll probably see or read anything that may happen in the future. But I do so somewhat sceptically, not because it's going to ruin the original story for me, but because I don't think anything can ever be better than it.

Remember that opportunity that arose but I didn't want to talk details incase I jinxed anything? Well, I'm starting a MA in a few months and there's quite an extensive reading list that I need to begin making my way through. I've joined a facebook group and the discussions happening on there have left me feeling very out of my depth already. They're all so organised and prepared, and my decision to apply was so spur of the moment I'm still processing the fact that I'm actually doing it. But I think I'll be okay. I think I can do it. And if it means I'll be even more busy that before, well, all the better.



Wednesday, 27 July 2016

I haven't ever been a small person.

I haven't ever been a small person.

When I was born I was oddly long, all limbs. My mother fondly recalls memories of meal times when I was small. The diary she kept detailing how I would gleefully eat pasta with tomato and garlic sauce and end up with it all over my face.

When I was young and told 'oh how tall you are' as if it were an achievement, I felt proud. Yes. I am tall. I am strong. I am something. As time marched on, it became a flaw. 'Gosh, you're tall'. So noticeable, at a time when I so desperately wanted to blend in. I wished I could disappear.

When I was twelve a boy who caught the same bus home as I did asked me out, whatever that means when you're twelve. I assumed it was a joke, shot him a puzzled look, and walked away without saying a word. I hope it was a joke. I hope I didn't hurt his feelings.

When I was fourteen I stopped eating breakfast. When I was fifteen I started throwing my lunch away as soon as I entered the school building. 'Oh how well you look, now all that puppy fat has melted away'. I don't know how I functioned through my exams. Seemingly solely fuelled on empty compliments.

As I have grown I have come to understand that I am, as someone who has helped me enormously has described as, a slightly off-centre person. And although I understand that now, it's a bit of a recent revelation. I won't run through a list of my particular quirks because it doesn't matter. All that matters is being nice to people.

The first mistake was mine. I was in a fragile place and tearing myself apart. Wishing I was 5'7. Wishing I was more intelligent. Wishing I physically took up less space. Wishing I could write more coherently. Because if those things were true then... then I would be happy, finally.

I fixated on one thing. And that thing was my body. I would tell myself that if I were smaller, I would be worthy. Worthy of friendship, of love, of success, whatever that means. The way I was somehow wasn't enough, and couldn't ever be enough. And I would be better, infinitely improved if my body looked different. Only now do I really see how that doesn't make sense. But it's taken a long time. Because sometimes there's a disparity between what we know to be true and what our minds allow us to believe at any given time.

My mistake was to seek validation from people I didn't know, who could say whatever they wanted in that moment, protected by the anonymity of the internet. This was a time when I found pure, unabashed joy in 'what I wore' posts. I needed someone, that I didn't know, to tell me that I looked nice. I posted some pictures that I'd been staring at for an hour, meticulously identifying everything I didn't like about myself. Part of me hoped that these thoughts were just me being too hard on myself, and part of me knew that if anyone did say anything nice I wouldn't believe them. But instead, someone took immense joy in confirming many of the horrible things I'd been thinking about myself. It was almost as though they could see into my mind.

I spiralled.

The problem: I'm very good at projecting an illusion of normality and I never looked like I had a problem.

As I stared at myself in the mirror one day I finally had a moment of clarity and I asked myself what I was doing. And then, for a long time, I felt annoyed with myself because I thought I was stronger. I knew not to let a stranger tell me how to feel. But I think when a comment confirms all the worst things you've been secretly thinking about yourself for an extended period of time, it's different. It's difficult to brush it off. Somewhere along the way I stopped caring about validation from others, but untangling myself from the depths of my own mind took a while.

I don't know what that person wanted to achieve with their words. I don't know what they were feeling in that moment. Maybe it made them feel better, for a few seconds. I don't know if they could sense I wasn't in a great place. I hope they didn't know. Because I don't think I can let myself believe that they were genuinely poking me to see if I'd implode. Mostly I just hope that they're okay. I'd like to believe that no one's end goal is to push someone over the edge. You can't ever know how someone is feeling at that time and projecting your feelings, no matter how low or hopeless you feel, on to someone else isn't healthy.

Please be nice to people. Please. And if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. By all means think what you want to think. Think about how much you don't like me, or whatever it is. That's fine. And I'm not saying that you can't ever be critical or that you can never disagree with anyone about anything. But choose your words carefully, please.

I will never be a small person.
That isn't who I'm meant to be.
When I consult with my legs about a thigh gap even my calves shrug to my thighs, not understanding the concept.
And I'm okay with that.

I'll nourish my body with what it needs, my mind with what it desires to learn, and my soul with the contentment that comes with the fulfilment of a life well lived.