Thursday, March 20, 2014

In Which I Refence Both YouTube And Snapchat Because I Am Hip

I've felt a bit stuck recently, when it comes to writing this blog. Oh God, I really know, it doesn't matter to anyone else, but it does kind of matter to me. Nearly ten years of pouring my hopes, hangovers and heartbreaks into this drab little corner of the internet and now I get all tangled as soon as I try and say anything. Suddenly everything sounds too self-promoting (probably) or not self-promoting enough (ridiculous) or something. Entitled, maybe. Or privileged. Or just plain old wank.

So, in a bid to rediscover something possibly lost, I'm copying that bastion of blogging eloquence, Belgian Waffle, and do some Down/Up lists - stuff that is bad, then stuff that is good. Ah, the age-old writing technique of listing some stuff and hoping for the best. Shakespeare probably definitely did something similar.


- Being freelance is still weirdly terrifying. I definitely knew I would miss my beloved teaching job after I left it at Christmas, but I don't think I anticipated the peculiar vertigo that wakes me in the early morning vacuum, whispering mean things in my ears. Things about stupidity and risk and You Are Definitely Not A Proper Grown Up. Even when it's all alright, when I am working, the vertigo is still there. Going into school every week for three years, knowing colleagues well enough to have jokes and know their stories and families, knowing every single kid in school by name, having a place I usually sat in the staff room, all that was an anchor (it was lovely). It was fairly straightforward. A bell rang and I started. A bell rang and I went home. Now it feels all more muddy and complicated. Trying to juggle loads of projects at the same time, worrying about cash flow, trying to think about things simultaneously in the moment and in the future. Assuming the risk for everything: emotional and financial. It's scary. I hope it will just get easier as I get used to it, and I won't end up a husk of a human, wandering up to strangers in public places and screaming 'APPRAISE ME" into their baffled faces.

- The lamp post outside our new flat looks worryingly wobbly.

- Patronizing patronizers keep being patronizing about this "no make up selfie" thing. I keep seeing Facebook posts from various people being all, like, "ladies, yeah, what's the big deal about make up. Listen, you're beautiful as you are. Here's a pat on the head, now grow some self-esteem" and all manner of other stuff that also definitely isn't the point. If everyone who does the no make up selfie thing donates some money then, surely, it's a good thing? Isn't it? I don't get why people who it doesn't affect are cross about it.

- Seriously. That lamp post looks really, really wobbly. I'm no town planner*, but are they meant to do that?
*Or whoever is in charge of lamp posts.

- I'm awaiting decisions on two big Arts Council applications, one for my new solo show Dirty Old River and one for Eggs Collective's new show. It is a nail-biting state of affairs.

- We haven't decorated our new flat. Ben has gone off on tour today with Anthropoetry and I have been working away, so all we have so far are small squares of paint and good intentions smattering the walls. I live in hope that one day I will turn majestically into the sort of person who can do things like decorating, tiling, and arts/crafts. And baking! I would like to do some baking. But instead I am the sort of person that doesn't do any of those things, feels woefully inadequate, so goes off writes self-pityingly blog posts about it. Go team me.


- There's a group of small children lined up outside the garden centre opposite. They are waiting in pairs, variously jumping up and down, swinging each others hands, dancing and being generally exceptionally giddy. They have their little fluorescent vests on and are poking excitedly at some daffodils. It is a Thursday lunchtime and they are on a school trip to the garden centre. Everything is A-OK. (They probably haven't noticed the ominous sway of the lamp post.)

- I think maybe I know why the vertigo is being mean to me in the night. Freelancing is hard, and I'm definitely a bit shy and scared of getting it wrong. In some ways I probably make the worst/most neurotic freelancer in the world. I hate using my phone unless it's to take selfies on Snapchat so that I can draw amusing glasses on my face or turn myself into a lion. I very much don't like not knowing what I am doing. I am, I have sadly realized, not cool enough to Go With The Flow about things. And this makes stuff a bit hard at the moment, when it's all a bit ricketty and new and uncertain. Maybe the fear is inevitable. It will probably get better.

And the actual work is really wonderful. I loved spending six weeks making Prelude to a Number. Being in new places and learning stuff. We were really pleased with the show, even though it possibly isn't quite there yet. And that's fine, because we'll work on it more and it will improve. (I wrote about it here, if you want to read about how that all went.) Now I'm working in Leeds on a piece called It Burns It All Clean for Transform Festival at West Yorkshire Playhouse. The lead artist is Selina Thompson, with Sara and I collaborating, but it's definitely Selina's piece. We're working in whatever way she needs us to. So it's nice, because we get to be part of the creative process without so much of the pressure, and learn about how someone else makes work.

And, at the risk of sounding like I'm attempting some kind of inspirational youtube video, I think that with every project I do I'm becoming a more confident writer and performer. I think the bit I love the most is when you're all in a room and the ideas are swinging around and everyone's buzzy and getting it. It feels a bit magical.

- The new flat is lovely. The one we had before was a one bedroom mezzanine, so it was kind of just one space for living, working, cooking and sleeping. If you wanted to strop off somewhere you had to go and sit in the bathroom and stare furiously at tiles. But this flat has two bedrooms, both of which are separate to the downstairs living space. This means stropping off can be done in the proper fashion! (There are probably other benefits as well.)

- It occurs to me that maybe lamp posts are meant to sway in the wind, like those buildings that are designed to withstand earthquakes by wobbling (bit of architectural engineering there for you, you're welcome). Maybe they're designed to be flexible, and it is in fact that flexibility that makes them ultimately more stable? Probably not, it's probably going to crash through my window and crush me while I am blogging about it. Oh well. I just thought it might make a good life lesson.

- The children have now been allowed into the garden centre and are tearing around like little streaks of yellow highlighter pen, occasionally stopping suddenly to stare intently at some greenery before launching off again, bumping wildly into one another and shrieking with joy.

- Spring waits around the corner. Up here in the northern hemisphere we're all nearly out of the dark. There is blossom on the trees and people have tentatively ditched their scarves. Yesterday I had a day off, so I met Aisling at lunchtime. We sat in the sun, sipping at our small glasses of cold white wine, pretending earnestly that it was summer. And, for the briefest of half hours, before the wind checked its calendar and picked up smartly, it worked.