The #ManScam

I had a really lovely evening with my friend Charlotte recently. As part of my New Year’s Resolution to stop being such a hermit, I’m forcing myself to leave the house on a regular basis and spend time with people I’m not in a relationship with (i.e. everyone in the world except Sean).

Don’t feel sorry for Sean. I live with him. He gets enough of me.

So I made my merry way over to Charlotte’s abode where she cooked me the most amazing curry-stuffed dosas, and we proceeded to catch up on various things including our respective relationships.

Without wanting to make a sweeping generalisation, I think it would be fair to assume that most hetero/bisexual women at some time or other have had the “what the hell is wrong with men” conversation. I don’t mean man-bashing, but a genuine curiosity about how men and women can function so differently sometimes.

On the one hand, we women tend to see ourselves as considerate, selfless and forever giving, while the men in our lives take, take and misunderstand what we want from them. Sound familiar? We drop hints, they don’t pick up on them. We disagree about something, and there’s no budging them. We say we want to somewhere, and they go there with their friends. Without us.

Maybe that last one only applies to me. I’m not sure. This isn’t about my relationship specifically, just the general Men from Mars, Women from Venus spiel. We like to make comparisons.

And make comparisons we did. Having had relationships with women in the past, I offered my views from the other side of the fence. While being with another woman means your partner might be more considerate, thinks a little harder about the effect her actions can have on you, and generally makes more romantic gestures than her male counterpart, you can also end up with a whole new barrel of problems. Like jealousy, which was a big issue for me in my last same-sex relationship.

No matter which side the coin lands on, there are blemishes.

Back to men. We found ourselves pondering the question, not so much how men can be so different, but how they’re all pretty much the same. Are we wired differently? How do we always end up with the same experience?

And then we came to our conclusion. It’s too easy to dismiss a man and say “he just doesn’t get it”. He could be a professor of physics or a burger flipper in McDonalds and they will still have this trait in common. It’s not about brain power, it’s not about intelligence, it’s not about breeding. Men generally have this quality in common – the so-called “what did I do wrong?” quality – and as a result they not only piss us off, but they always get away with it.

Because we do let them off, eventually. We do just shrug and say, ‘well, it’s just the way he is. I can’t change him!’

And that’s how they get you. They’re not silly. They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re secretly evil geniuses.

Don’t fall for the #ManScam.

Swings and Roundabouts

I need to start writing again, and by that I mean I need to stop talking myself out of it every time I feel the urge to open my laptop.

I recently read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame. It’s written in the guise of a self-help book, which is aimed at people who feel that they have some sort of creative offering inside them but are too afraid to use it. Whether it’s because they’re afraid to put themselves out there, or they just don’t think they’re good enough.

Admittedly, a lot of the theories Gilbert puts forward about creativity are what some might class as ‘hippy dippy’. The notion that ideas travel from person to person in the hope of being created, and moving on if they get bored of waiting, is a bit farfetched. But god damn, it convinced me.

I’m not a very spiritual person. I don’t necessarily believe that the universe will deliver what I need if I know how to ask for it, and I don’t believe that ideas are simply floating around with a Pinocchio-like fantasy to become real. However I cannot deny that Gilbert’s encouragement to simply DO SOMETHING is extremely difficult to ignore.

I’ve been wanting to start writing for pleasure again, for a very long time. Growing up, I was such a creative person and I still look back today and can’t quite fathom how I found the time to do all my homework (and get very good grades), while staying up all night painting, attempting to play the guitar, and writing my own songs and poetry. And short stories. And a novel.

Who the hell was I?

Don’t get me wrong, I still write. My job involves writing every day, only it’s not the same thing. I work in internal communications, meaning I have to be careful to make sure that everything I write for the company is presented in the right voice, using specific vocabulary and catchphrases and always with a motivational tone.

Well, sometimes I just miss writing dystopian stories about unwanted women being locked in a hall of mirrors to face their demons. And an alcoholic has-been who despises the ‘help’. And a pink-haired, middle-aged Quirkyalone who likes to walk down the street with her eyes closed.

So why am I not doing this anymore? I’m not sure, really. It’s always easy to blame it on a lack of time, and that wouldn’t be a lie. I work long hours, I cycle 12 miles a day, I go to the gym (on occasion) and by the time I get home all I want to do is shove food into my face and watch endless re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But that’s not the real reason. Not really. As Gilbert says, people who want to write will find the time to write. Just like a couple having a sordid affair will find time to make out, even if it’s for 5 minutes on a staircase in the middle of the afternoon. If they want it that much, they will make the time.

So why am I not making time?

I know I want it. In my heart I want it. I think I’m just stuck in a decade-long dry spell. I’ve been so closed off and unproductive since I left home, I’ve probably scared Big Magic away. All those ideas floating around, and none of them are coming my way. They’re probably looking at me, thinking “no chance, you’ll never get anywhere with her”. In the world of creativity I’m the frigid girl who isn’t even worth the challenge.

Well, not for long. I’m gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down.

And all that jazz.

Eyes of Child: In Memoriam

A great man died, and I think a piece of me died with him.

I’ve had so many blogs in the past which all turned into angst-ridden teenage melodrama, and I started this one with every intention of adopting a more positive outlook.

Then the next day, I woke up to the news.

I’ve spent a lot of today feeling devastated, with puffy eyes and every attempt to keep my head down at work to avoid the usual Monday morning small talk.

Smiley colleague: So, how was your weekend?

Me: FUCKING TERRIBLE.

I digress.

In honour of this wonderful man who had such a profound impact on my life, I’m going to stick to my pledge to remain positive.

So instead of lamentation I offer memories. Twenty, to be precise.

  1. Growing up watching Labyrinth, blissfully unaware of David Bowie’s prominent crotch and Jennifer Connelly’s terrible acting.
  2. Owning a VHS of The Snowman with David Bowie’s introduction, where he plays the boy grown up in his attic, discovering the scarf that he gives his snowman. Watching it every Christmas.
  3. Hitting puberty, not fitting in, but not caring because when I get home I can listen to David Bowie’s music and forget which decade I’m living in. Subsequently getting lost in the 70s and 80s on a regular basis.
  4. Spending hours on end painting, with David Bowie’s albums on repeat. Three at a time. On shuffle. Painting to the rhythm and singing as loud as I want. It doesn’t matter that I’ve got school in the morning, I’ll paint all night if I can.
  5. Buying David Bowie’s Greatest Hits, complete with DVD of his music videos, and proceeding to watch all music videos with mum. Listening to mum reminisce about seeing him on Top of the Pops. Realising she had a whole life before I came along. Feeling really connected to my mum when she was my age. We share a love for ‘Drive in Saturday’. During the live version on this DVD, David gets his lyrics mixed up. It’s adorable.
  6. My nan’s story about growing up in Beckenham, knowing a boy called David Jones who made fun of her and her friends, and giving him a hard slap.
  7. Going through my goth phase (which part of me has never left), making a Marilyn Manson collage and realising that one of his photoshoots was inspired by Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ make up. Realising for the first time how far reaching his influence really is. Later noticing that the creepy figures in Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’ video remind me of the gymnasts in Bowie’s ‘John I’m Only Dancing’ video.Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 20.14.11
  8. Listening to ‘Let’s Dance’ with mum, and taking it in turns to sing “trembling like a floooowwwwAAHH”.
  9. Watching him age about a hundred years in a day, in ‘The Hunger’. Accepting that his films aren’t great, but loving them anyway.
  10. Collecting his vinyl records and then sketching the album covers.
  11. Receiving the most beautiful email from the man himself, in response to the sketch at the top of this post. He complimented my drawing technique, and said he continuously grows with the support of his fans.
  12. Making a new group of friends at school, and spending a Saturday afternoon watching the 2004 Reality Tour DVD together. Feeling that his music, which once helped me accept that I was an outsider, has finally brought me together with others.
  13. Wearing a Bowie t-shirt to my favourite Canterbury cafe one time, the waiter clocks me, tells me he loves Bowie, and then switches the music to a Bowie playlist, just for me.
  14. Walking past Mick Jagger at the Tate Britain and immediately thinking “he danced with Bowie in the street. This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to him”.
  15. Going to a work Christmas party where the other girls are having butterflies and sparkly patterns painted on their temples. Asking the face painter for an Aladdin Sane lightening bolt across my face. Getting high fives all night.
  16. Hearing ‘Where Are We Now’ for the first time, and feeling butterflies at the prospect of him potentially touring again. Alas this was never to be, but that hope was enough to reignite my childish fascination with his music.
  17. Visiting Berlin with friends, and bursting into song whenever passing Potsdamer Platz.
  18. Waiting in line at the V&A for several hours on my way through London in the hope of getting a ticket to the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition. Finally getting my hands on a ticket. Spending several more hours inside. Reaching the last room, and heading back to previous rooms because I wasn’t ready to leave. Finally deciding to leave when the ceiling high projections of his live shows bring tears to my eyes.
  19. Moving into a flat share in Bristol, and discovering two of my flat mates are also huge Bowie fans. Bonding over wine and discussing our favourite songs. Heading to Karaoke and signing up to sing Ziggy Stardust together. Getting called up to the stage. They chicken out and decide to be backing dancers. Singing the whole damn song anyway.
  20. Watching one of my baby brothers grow into a young man going through the same music discovery that I did. Sharing in our grief at David’s passing. A love of his music runs in our family.

That’s enough. I’ve watched the whole of Labyrinth in the course of writing this.

“Should you need us…”

Mildred’s Musings

I feel as though I’m bringing a character back to life, when in fact I am residing in her body. Or is she residing in mine? I honestly don’t know anymore.

My identity has become fluid of late, signing one name and typing another. Introducing myself as S and identifying as M.

S & M.

Mmm.

I feel as though I want to bare my soul for anyone who would accept it. Like a street walker at night stumbling blindly from corner to corner, clutching at my collar and exposing my scrawny chest for the whole world to see.

Except I’m not scrawny. I’m not a street walker.

Ha, I wish I were half that interesting, when in fact I am still trying to figure out who I am. In fact I can no longer decide if the priority is figuring out who I am or who I want to be.

What do you choose in that situation? I won’t lie, I’m not one hundred percent happy with who I am, but how easy is it to craft a totally new personality for yourself? So far I’ve come up with a name, but, I feel the rest may take a while to follow.

I think I’ll just use this space to work it out one day at a time.

Hi, I’m Dred. It’s not my name, but it is.