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sylvie

9 Oct

inter-locking deceptive advice, sneaking off meat to the cats, in between teeth and bone, broken pencils and let’s not call this home. Chew on the fat, chew on the dish, chew on the lies, now chew on this: I want to lay in this bed, burnt hips in my back, girls nails drag across broken feet and we can’t even begin to call it that. Coming apart at the seams, sewn up with blunt objects and despair under the moonless night.

Let’s get into cars like we used to, long roads and sticky sweet fist pumps on the dashboard, promising anything, all our imperfect lives singing like radios tuned in. little girl, you got me cornered and I stare out at the strips of pictures jammed in door frames and shoe boxes. Boycott love and trade it in for all the pain and its relative to what they say but virgins don’t get backstage, just into the freezer, arms up and legs out, lets head into the western sky. We all sing along because we know all the words, just not how they go.

Bitchin Camaro

6 Apr

Apparently, I am very punk rock. At dinner last night, Al and Morgan informed me that during a strange car trip the previous night, they had been discussing favorite songs. And Morgan mentioned that he and I had only just had the same conversation days earlier. And apparently I had said, “Favorite song? Or favorite punk song?”

And Al says to me: “That’s just it, isn’t it? About you? There’s punk rock and then there’s everything else. All the trivial crap. There’s Britney Spears and then there’s drinking in your hotel room until 4 am, breaking glasses in the sink, dancing until dawn, sleeping in your clothes, writing bits of your novel on newspapers on the train ride home at 6 am…there’s everything else and then there’s real punk rock, there’s you.”

I was pretty well flattered by this comment. Because I just don’t see myself as that at all. I see myself as very safe, very boring sort of person. But then I realized that maybe that is who I was when I was younger, but that’s not me anymore. But the expectations of people I used to know still linger in my head and tell me who I am. Which is silly.

My parents, my highschool friends, my neighbors growing up would tell you that I cannot read maps, that I get lost and frazzled very easily. They will say that I am easily overwhelmed and that I cannot carry my own luggage. That I over pack. Even Holdstock sincerely wonders if I would be able to survive living more than a 20 minute walk from Harvey Nichols.

But then these newer friends, these friends that have only seen me as the sort of girl that head rushed right into London, see me as independent and fiesty. And I like that image a lot better. I like being told that if our lives were a slasher flick, that I would survive. What a great image to have in my head: me hacking a serial killer down with a machete.

This week I have the house to myself and I have been writing and printing up a storm these last two days, feeling very vicious towards anything in my way of finishing up my project. I’ve been listening to the playlist Nils left on my grooveshark account, because new music is a beautiful thing to have around. And I like his mixes.  But I feel so torn about what I’m writing about because on one hand, the warm weather gives rise to all sorts of fantastic, resplendent imagery, but my gut instinct is still always to write out the pain and suffering. We’re getting too self-destructive around here, but at the same time, we do always have to tear shit down to the ground to get anything fresh coming up, don’t we?

A certain little birdie told me to check out the movie Last Summer yesterday and I did and I feel all sorts of fucked up about it now. That title has the link to the actual film, so you should give yourself and hour and half in the bath and watch it.

This song is one of the ones on the Nils playlist and I am listening to it on repeat while writing about murder. I don’t know how well they go together, but now you know how my mind works…

The Ethics of Truth

1 Apr

As a fiction writer, I am rarely concerned with the ethics of what I am writing. I worry about my characters, I worry about my plot, I worry about keeping people’s interest. I’m not telling a real person’s story and I don’t need to be delicate with the details. I can say whatever I want.

But blogging makes it a whole different can of worms. I’m writing about my own life, but I am involving all the people around me as well. So, I have to try and keep a lid on things, although I think my fiction speaks volumes about me and how I’m feeling at any given moment. But I try to keep my blog a bit less personal than a diary would be, partially because it’s boring to ramble on about deeply personal things that are not easily relatable to a wide audience, partially because I like to keep some privacy, and partially because I want to keep my job, whatever I am doing at the time.

But I am also being frustrated recently because I am not a very good fiction writer. I am not good at hiding my heart, I wear it right on my sleeve. And all I can write lately is full throttle, my life splashed across the page, like blood you just cannot wash away. And I know that for anyone who knows me, it’s never been more than thinly disguised, but I was at least able to pretend to myself a little bit. Especially when people guessed wrong. It’s sort of like that Carly Simon song: everyone thinks I’m writing about them. Like a horoscope, you can poke your nose into any line and find yourself if you look around hard enough.

What I have been trying to write for the last few months, holed up here in London, was absolute fiction. Light and happy, a novel that was silly and endearing and…can you understand why I have run out of steam? It’s actually finished, just unbelievably boring and not much of myself can be found anywhere in it. And I returned from a weekend away, just full of stories and energy and darkness, but I can’t quite bring myself to post any of that, because it is all so painfully true and at what point do writers need to start hiding the truth? Because at some point, everyone you know and love ends up on the pages and then you aren’t going to have any friends. Or worse yet, all the enemies you have accumulated over the years (and trust me, all interesting people have a huge stack of enemies and I like to think of myself as interesting— if only because so many interesting people have taken the time to make me the bane of their existence) start to know too much about you. Then again, maybe that is what being a writer really is: being brutal honest with everyone in the world, even yourself, and having to admit that this is the way things are. This is the way things have unfolded and we are all idiots to pretend it all any different.

So what are the ethics of truth? When is it okay to lie? When is it okay to smudge the edges of truth, so we don’t hurt each other? And when is it okay to be brutally honest and can we expect forgiveness for that? Or do we even want to be loved by people that have a preconceived notion about who we are and don’t let us tell the truth? Strangely, the people I lie to the most are the people who think I share too much; if only they really knew how much I already do to protect them, let them live with this image they have made of me. But then again, they never read anything I write.

Even Dutch Pedophiles Are More Focused On Their Long-term Goals Than I Am

17 Mar

Oh, god, could it be true? Probably. I was, once again, reading other people’s blogs today, while I was half thinking about how I really needed to start focusing on what I am going to do after London and after I travel. I was focusing on this huge decision by reading about celebrity gossip, how to make a lemon meringue pie (Easter is coming up after all and my mother always makes one on Easter), and checking my email. To be fair to myself, I was a bit tired from going on a very long walk with Emily, all the way up to Hampstead Heath, around it, and back home again. She runs. I do not. You can imagine what I looked like. Ahem.  So anyway, there I was procrastinating, thinking about doing some writing, probably.

And then my phone rang. And then I got a text. And then another. And then I remembered that I am going to the opera tonight and so I had better pick out something to wear and wash my hair and put my contacts in and suddenly, I was overwhelmed. And pressed for time. And I knew that I wasn’t going to get any writing done today at all because my social life is eating my professional life. Which is very confusing to me, because when I lived in Edinburgh, I got a lot of writing done. I was always writing. I wrote in my bed, I wrote at the kitchen table, I wrote on the couch while the girls I looked after watched The Simpsons. I think this is because the truth about Edin-burgers is that they are innately lazy and enjoy a good self imposed exile and so my social life was never so all consuming. Despite Edinburgh taking no more than an hour to walk from end to end (I lived in Leith and worked in Murrayfield and it took me an hour to walk or 20 minutes on the bus, and those sections of town are pretty darn far removed) and yet, no one will travel farther than 20 minutes walking time to see someone. In the winter (8 months of the year), they won’t travel more than 5. So, this means that when I moved to Edinburgh and lived in Tollcross and a boy I was dating lived on Easter Road (20 minute bus ride) we were in what is considered to be a “long distance relationship”. It did not end well for us.

But in London, people generally allow that they are going to spend at least 40 minutes getting anywhere and so they don’t really mind meeting up any day of the week and no one really plans that far ahead, calling you up last minute to do things.  So all of a sudden, I have a lot less free time. Although, another issue is that surely, I would rather be out of the house right at 7pm so that I don’t get reeled into reading the kids a bedtime story. (For some reason, lately they have been trying to convince me that ‘Beano’ is a book. It is not. And I do not read stupid comics, and I most certainly do not read them aloud). So that means all the times that I used to spend curled up in my bed, writing away happily, is now spent in dark rainy streets, using up all the money on  my oyster card to get away from suburbia.

So anyway, during my time procrastinating, I read, who else, but Penelope Trunk. I often time think that while she’s sitting at her desk, pondering what sort of article she should write that day, that she thinks of me and creates something in that vein. Which is what she did yesterday: she wrote an article about how not having any long term goals makes it impossible to get any work done because you aren’t sure if any of the work you will be doing will be valid for anything and so you get stuck and you stop. And in my case, you socialize. Partially because I have been told over and over that knowing people and having contacts is a really wonderful way for you to advance your career, but mostly because it is so easy and so fun to just hang out. It’s so easy to leave the house and relax, and trust me: you don’t know job stress until you realize that for 6 hours of your day, you are listening to children scream at top volume. Or worse still, talking non-stop for an hour straight while you are walking slowly in the cold, your fingers going numb and your brain on fire…

Right. So as you can see, I clearly have had my mind eaten away by this job as of lately and it’s actually making it hard to focus on my long term goals. And apparently, while I am sitting here, flummoxed and confused, drinking gin and tonics in Sloane Square, Dutch pedophiles are plotting out how to legalize having sex with twelve-year-olds. That’s right, they formed a political group. And they are campaigning for office. And then deciding that campaigning is taking away from their LONG TERM GOAL of legalizing pedophilia, so they stopped running for office to focus on making the general public aware of and sympathetic to their plight.

I’m bemused. And devastated. I’m actually less organized than child molesters. Although, let’s face it, I should have known that all along. After all, child molesters are always really planning ahead and doing all sorts of crazy hard work to organize themselves, from building secret basement dungeons to buying up all the cotton candy in three counties so that they can lure the child beauty pageant winner that they have been stalking and photographing for the last two years into said basement dungeon. They really do plan ahead. I bet they even have to-do lists where they prioritize all the really important things in their lives. I also bet they are very capable of packing light on vacation because they have already narrowed down what is really important to them and never need excess baggage. Lucky bitches.

I, however, do not have such a straight forward long term goal. I do not know, deep down, that I want to do something so badly that I have organized my life, my political affiliations, or marital status to reflect this goal, nor would I stage a battle with the law to be able to do that thing. While I don’t think I want to ever see these crazy Dutch people succeed, I do admire their dogged single mindedness. I admire their ambition. I admire their organization. I wonder if they have a productivity blog?

Although, probably, if they had one, they would, like most people who have productivity blogs (and there are A LOT out there) they would tell me to pick a goal, focus on it, and cut out all the social crap. I mean, they would spend 1,000 words saying that and also add some things in about having notes on your wall urging you on to your goals and making charts with star stickers as well. But basically, they would say: stop being so damn social. So that is my new long term goal: to be less social.  I bet hermits get a shitload of work done.

Hyper Love and Birthday Wishes!

9 Mar

This past Sunday was one of those glorious days in London that makes you insanely happy: bright and sunny, despite being icy cold, full of amazing people. One of those amazing people was my friend Deborah.

Her birthday party was this Sunday evening and honestly, if you have ever wanted to walk into a room and meet twenty or so perfectly-wonderful-spectacular-in-every-way people, Deb’s house on this night was the place to do so.

Morgan, her wonderful boyfriend (and otherwise charming friend of mine) had organized an amazing gift for her, that I, being out of the country, had not had a chance to participate in: a multi-media dvd/cd/booklet of music, art, poems, stories, and film made by all of her friends who would be at this party and presented in a most exciting way (a bit of performance art which surprised and hushed the crowd!). There were also a lot of cakes and cupcakes and delicious thai green curry and a lot of smiles all around.

Because I wasn’t able to participate in Deb’s present, due to my being out of the country at the time (It’s okay Morgan! You’re a star!) I’d like to make her a little present here. It’s not much (but I promise, I did make her cupcake kebabs!) but for an artist, sometimes a little extra exposure is just what a girl needs. So here goes:

Deborah Pearson, who has a delightful blog of her own at Confessions of a Young Playwright, is a pretty genius young thing. She has won numerous awards, including being named one of the prestigious stage 100, an annual list of power players in the UK theater.

As a girl who lost her heart in Edinburgh, Debbie means a lot to me, since she founded the Forest Fringe Festival in my beloved Forest Cafe, which is an experimental theater festival during the big August Festival that overtakes Edinburgh every year. She wanted a place where artists could make whatever art they wanted without having to focus on money. And she totally did it: it’s free for everyone, the artists and the audiences. And she started doing all of this while she was attending Edinburgh University. Ta-dah! You can read about this in more detail here: Post City Article!. Or you can read a quick interview with her here: 5 Questions: Debbie Pearson and see a quote from here her in The Guardian.

So this is sort of my love letter to another great North American girl. She’s been a bit of a hero, a bit of role model, and a lot of a friend who helped me leap before I looked and gives me a lot of faith everyday that if you do what you love you can never be sad. And in that spirit, I would like to dedicate a list to

“How To Be More Debbie Like in 5 Easy Steps”

  

  

1. Smile all the time.

Deb has this huge smile that she uses most of the time. She makes everyone around her feel instantly happy and at ease, which makes it a million times easier for her to talk them into doing things or teaching people (or sometimes Italian children).

2. Speak softly.

I’m sure that Deb yells. Probably. But I’ve never really heard her do so out of anger. In fact, it took me a long time of knowing her to even realize that she ever felt stressed because she keeps her voice soft and with an even, soothing tone. Only after being around her for a long time can I see on her face when she’s getting a bit flummoxed. I think I got very confused at first as I grew up  in a loud Italian household, where you yelled even if all you wanted to do was ask for the salt, and she’s a sweet Canadian, but she is patient and calm under pressure and this is what makes her a tremendous leader. Leaders should always be brave in the face of danger, and she certainly can do that.

3. Surround yourself by people you love and love you.

Don’t waste your breath on anyone else, it’s only wasting your time. Deb cultivates the most beautiful friendships and it’s a lesson to us all. On Sunday I saw lots of people I already knew, but also met a bunch more of Deb’s friends who were brand new to me. And while everyone was very different from each other, while conversations ran the gamut, their was an eerie similarity that everyone shared: they were all absolutely adoring of Deb and she was absolutely adoring of them. They were all friends that you could count on for anything and everyone wove in and out of each others lives fluidly. There was not a single person there who was not warm and friendly and interesting to talk to and it was clear that every single person in that flat that night loved Deb and was willing to work hard for her. And the best bit? She gives it right back. Which brings us to number four…

4. Be willing to work hard for people, because in exchange they will be willing to work hard for you.

Deb loves to say she is a procrastinator, but I would give my eye teeth to be able to procrastinate as productively as she does. She is always doing a million little projects and she is always trying to incorporate her friends as much as she can. And while a lot of people are always looking to see what they can get out of any given situation, Deb is a lot more altruistic than that: she always wants to see what greater good can come out of any situation. I think that’s why she’s getting as much credit in ‘the straight world’ as she does: she’s not greedy or selfish so people want to do nice things for her.

5. Take the time to enjoy every single day.

Whether she is reading War and Peace just because she really really wants to (even though maybe she has been told she should be doing more with her day) or strolling through a Sunday market or eating cakes out of the box from Louis Hungarian Bakery because to get a plate would just be less fun or spontaneously deciding to make a curry for lunch and watching a few million episodes of Arrested Development with me and Morgan…she’s always enjoying her day to the max. Because life is more important than work, even if you are doing what you love, because having adventures and being with friends is what is going to influence every aspect of your life and work. It will make you cheerful, it will help build up that support network of friends, it will fuel your creativity, it will give you memories that will make you smile when you are far away from home.

DSCF2905 Deb and Me

DSCF2908 Cupcake Kebabs!

group! Pulls Shapes!DSCF2928 Open presents!group2 So fancy fancy!

Gin and Commas

3 Mar

At times, drinking far too much can result in some very strange situations, and the best of these times are the ones where you end up having a discussion with high school seniors (or whatever they are called in England) that melds together pop music and grammar.

My birthday, while mostly a strange Jason Morton Experience (see below for a definition), had a few really amazing moments, one of which was just such a time, where I started speaking very randomly to two 18-year-old girls and the conversation progressed into a conversation about the band Vampire Weekend and the Oxford comma and how much we all love the comma. Yes, that is right, 18-year-old girls love the Oxford comma. So, now, all you boys out there that were wondering how to woo such a female, you have this powerful knowledge. Although, to be fair, I am pretty sure those girls were Latin and Russian majors, but still…

But back to the comma. I’m not drunk now, but certainly, I’d never be able to as elegantly explain why the comma is golden as this fellow, Gabe at Motivated Grammar, has done. I don’t know who he is or what he looks like, but I am fairly sure I love him. His post on the Oxford Comma makes me willing to rethink my stance on having babies, just because I at least know that they would be reared with an unfailing sense of duty to the Oxford Comma. And in a world such as ours, I couldn’t ask for more.

First, a bit of background. The Oxford comma is so-called because it is standard in the style guide for the Oxford University Press, and has been for over a hundred years. The Oxford comma is attested in the 1905 edition of the OUP Style Guide, and remains there to this day.  The comma also goes by a few other names. Those of a less Anglophilic bent can call it the Harvard comma — although as a loyal Princetonian I would never sully my reputation by doing so. Those who seek to remain neutral in such Anglo-American affairs can call it the serial comma. And those who don’t much care about minor punctuation issues refer to it as “that extra comma” or “that stupid extra comma”, depending on whether or not they use it.

But whatever you call the comma, is it right or wrong? There’re fair arguments on both sides.  One might be concerned about limiting ambiguity. Alas, including the Oxford comma can lead to ambiguity, but omitting it can lead to ambiguity as well.  Consider (3) and (4):

(3a) I own pictures of my friends, Hugh Grant, and Dolly Parton.
(3b) I own pictures of my friends, Hugh Grant and Dolly Parton.

(4a) I am writing to my Congresswoman, Alia Shawkat, and Michael Cera.
(4b) I am writing to my Congresswoman, Alia Shawkat and Michael Cera.

It is clear, thanks to the Oxford comma in (3a) that I am not friends with Hugh Grant or Dolly Parton. In (3b), though, they could potentially be my friends, listed as an appositive phrase, and the sentence is thus somewhat ambiguous. Deus ex Oxford comma! On the other hand, in (4a), if you don’t know who Alia Shawkat is, then you may reasonably conclude that the commas are intended to indicate an appositive and that Alia Shawkat is my Congresswoman. (4b) is clearer; since Alia Shawkat and Michael Cera can’t both be my Congresswoman, it’s clear that I was constructing a three-item list. Diabolus ex Oxford comma!  In the first case, the Oxford comma dispels ambiguity, but in the second it induces ambiguity.  So ambiguity doesn’t push us one way or the other.

He does end his post with some silly prattle about it being okay either way, but I don’t think (a.k.a want to believe) that is how he really feels.

I used to get terribly upset when I would see posters, especially for movies such as Me, You and Dupree (which is so upsetting to me that I cannot believe I just wrote it out there), because I like the nice, easy readability that the ‘extra’ comma adds. Grammar is, as my imaginary friend Gabe writes, made for helping stamp ambiguity out of language. It’s there so that knowledge and information is accessible to everyone. EVERYONE. Not just Oxford kids, not just people who speak a language as a native (trust me, it’s when you start having to read other languages that you start to really appreciate when someone writes in a straightforward manner),  and not just for writers either.  Did you catch me using my comma? Good.

So here is why I love the Oxford comma: It erases all ambiguity. I can focus less on the structure of the sentence and more easily get to the point. This means I can digest the information quickly, pocket it away in my brain, and move on to the next bit of information. It’s a wonderful thing when you want to read quickly, and I do. There are a lot of books out there in the world and I would like to get through quite a few more before I die.

Now, as Jason Morton (of the Jason Morton Experience) will tell you, journalists rarely use the Oxford comma. He works in magazines and newspapers, so I let it slide for him. I’m not sure why they like to skip it, as the point of a news article is to be easily digestible by the masses, but I’ll try to fake an understanding, just for him.

I would like to say, however, that my love of the Oxford comma has nothing to do with any sort of Anglophilia that was mentioned as a possible source of affection by Gabe. In fact, my first visit to Oxford made me feel a bit upset (really, no, I do not give a flying fuck about the damn Tolkien bust! What do you mean you don’t know who John Donne is?) and my second was mainly a loved up wander through some gardens and a great deal of wine drinking in an old man pub.  I could call it the Harvard comma, it would make me feel okay to do that, except then when I argue how great it is with English people, they simply say it is a stupid American creation and the Scots will argue that it is a stupid English creation. They love to argue that, since Edinburgh is the first university to properly teach English. Although mainly they just like to argue. (I just thank god everyday that it is not called the Essex comma or I would want to eradicate it as well…but that’s just the ol’ SNP in me that a certain Mackenzie put in me that I cannot seem to get out of my system, no matter how London tries to squish it out).

Anyway, the rest of the evening was not nearly as much fun as that one moment and I have to say, I do feel terribly happy that I was able to converse with some lovely people (although other than my new friend Niall, I seem to only remember the name Josh, possibly because I have a picture on my phone of us….). Now, where did I put that comma?

*Jason Morton Experience: a situation where a person loses all track of time and logic, due to unsavory dealings, and ends up with a non-linear memory of a night, or day.

 

Never Travel With Anyone You Do Not Love

22 Feb

I like to write stories and I like to write stories about things I have done or seen, so it makes sense that I really love to travel. When I was younger I was so nervous about being uncomfortable, and I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, that I felt that it was an impossibilty to ever really get very far away from my home town. I grew up in upstate NY (I’m practically Canadian we’re so far north), so my youthful travels were mainly to Canada and nearby cities for concerts and camping. My parents had traveled extensively during their lives, as my father was in the Air Force, but I never had the travel bug. Maybe because I spent so much time as a small child moving around the world (I was born in Germany, then we lived in Cornwall, New Mexico, and then NY and in between all those moves my parents loved to go visit different places in Europe….camping with a 6 month old!?!), I never wanted to go anywhere that wasn’t absolutely familar. I didn’t even like to throw things out or rearrange furniture in my room because when things changed it made me very nervous.

So I think everyone was really shocked when I suddenly packed up my bags and moved to Scotland. And then didn’t freak out. And then didn’t come back. I’d taken a holiday there with an ex boyfriend a year before I moved there and trust me, I would have never gone that first time without him: I needed him to hold my hand and be the outgoing one. But for some reason, once I got there, once I saw that I could explore things on my own and make friends on my own, everything changed. When my white skirt got covered in mud on the first day during a hike in the highlands, I just laughed it off and washed it out in the sink later that night.  (For all my friends from Scotland, this was my first night in Stromeferry in Gordon’s house!). And by the time I got home, I was different, although I didn’t notice it at all yet.

I haven’t travelled as much as I wish I have; if I had an infinite amount of money (or a lovely trustfund), I’d be all over the place, every day. I also still retain a big part of that childhood need for comfort: I much prefer to live in a place then just visit it. So, when you spend  years living in a place, it does cut down travel time…

But this summer I am terribly excited that I have been planning on taking the Orient Express from London to Istanbul and stopping in a lot of places in between, like Brussels, Paris, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. If I don’t run out of money, Italy and Greece are on the list too. You can do the whole train trip in about a week, but I plan on doing stop-overs in a lot of cities and spending a month on the whole trip. A month could be a long time, and I thought to myself that I needed to find a travel companion, but it dawned on me as people looked over their work schedules with a furrowed brow that I certainly wouldn’t mind going it alone.

Because traveling alone means I can talk to anyone at anytime, write in my notebook without seeming rude, wear the same dress for five days in a row, and not have to visit anything I don’t want to see or, worse, miss out on something I want to see. Also, for some reason, whenever I am with someone else, I get almost nervous, like I won’t be doing things just the way they want them to be done, and then I mess up a bit. But when I am on my own, I hardly ever get lost (or if I do, I can usually resolve it pretty quickly), and I’m less stressed. If things aren’t perfect, I only have myself to worry about and that eases my worries.

Being the terrible girl I am, I did wonder how I would manage to survive a month on a train with limited luggage. I had already decided that the only bag I am bringing is my rucksack. And EVERYTHING must fit in it. So I was all productive (dorky) today and made a polyvore set. honestly, I’m beginning to learn the art of packing light. It’s taken years and the realization that if I really love an item of clothing I will want to wear only that, no matter what. So, if I only pack one dress that I really love, I’m good to go and that saves so much packing room. Another reason to travel alone: freedom to admit that changing your clothes every day is totally over-rated and not nearly as important as the story you are going to get out of the adventure.

And now, to bastardize my hero Ernest Hemingway:

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Scotland as a young woman, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Scotland is a moveable feast.
 

and also:

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.

 

 

My Hero

16 Feb

I sometimes wonder if it is wrong to love Penelope Trunk as much as I do? I think, in real life, we would probably argue a lot and that she wouldn’t be that fun to have drinks with. But she also reminds me a lot of women that I have had in my life that I have thought of as mentors. And I love her latest blog post, “Do you want to be interesting or do you want to be happy?”

Well bunnies, I think it’s pretty clear which one I pick and that’s why I love Penelope. She absolutely would rather be interesting, no matter how much she attempts to live her life in such a way that would make her happy. When faced by the choice of doing the sane, rational thing, the thing that will give your life stability and comfort, or leaping before you even know what you are jumping for, Penelope is always out on a ledge, flailing around. If she’s afraid of failure, you can’t see it on her. And she’s not some crazy blessed person: she fails all the time. She’s gone bankrupt, she’s been divorced, she’s lost book deals she already spent the advance for, she had a very public scandal about her tweeting about her miscarriage. She has no filter and this gets her in trouble all the time. But she picks herself right back up and goes at it again, almost instantly. Of course, she may change her mind about what she wants to do and alter her course every two seconds. Who cares? Let’s be honest: what makes her happy IS being interesting, even if it’s only to herself. She is absolutely my “Fuck Fear” hero.

I love this article as well, My Financial History, and Stop Whining About Your Job. Everytime I start to get a little bit stressed, I re-read it and I think: yeah, if you are even a little bit unhappy with what you are doing, pick up and change it, even if it means moving to Wisconsin. Or Montana, as the case may be ;)

This qoute should totally be tattooed on everyone’s forehead:

I’m not saying you have to live in rural Alabama or forgo having kids. I’m saying you need to be an adult, and realize that adults make big decisions. Things don’t just happen to you. You have power to decide what your life will be like.

And if you set your life up so you can’t change jobs, take personal responsibility for that. It didn’t just happen to you. You are making decisions about that.

Fuck Fear: London Edition

1 Dec

Fear is a really unreasonable thing. It thrashes out at you, in the night, grabs you by the ankles, and tries to drag you around. It will lock you up in the closet if it can and it will make your screams fall silent. It will make you dream that your teeth are falling out and it will make you lie right to someone’s face. It’s sneaky too, cuz it will hold your hand while you’re waiting out the nightmares under the covers and sometimes fear can become your best friend: you don’t know what you would do without that pounding feeling in your chest or the headaches or the feeling that you need to be on the constant alert.
And fear can manifest itself as anything: a girl, whose blog I quite like, wrote about how she was *afraid* to stop having an eating disorder. She said she didn’t know who she was without her anorexia. Her identity was all wrapped up in having the illness and there was a terrible fear that she would not be anyone without it. She had lived with her fear for so long that it had manifested itself as something she *couldn’t live without*.

It was holding her back and crushing her. Every choice she made was because she was driven by fear.

And fuck, so many people are.

Afraid that their families won’t be able to function without them if they go off to take care of themselves (or are they really afraid they won’t be able to survive without their families?). Afraid that their job or business will crumble if they don’t sit tight and just do the same exact thing every day. Afraid that if they say what they really want that they won’t get it, so best just to sit tight and shut up. Afraid that if they move away from where they are now they won’t be able to make friends, to be happy. Afraid that if they go for something that it won’t work out exactly how they want it to.

And fear very happily laps up all this self-doubt, this worry and hugs you nice and tightly and says, Don’t breathe, I’ll take care of you. I’ll keep you from getting too hurt.” And suddenly fear isn’t that great kick of adrenaline it could be, it’s not that shot of fight or flight that you get when you get mugged or go to war. It’s the suffocating embrace of your great-aunt who crushes you or maybe just a big sheet of bubble wrap duct taped all around you.

I’m really scared. I’ve moved to another new city. I moved in with people I don’t know. I’m doing a job that frankly, carries a lot of responsibility (if not prestige). I have no idea if my visa situation will work out. I have no idea if my romantic situation is going to work out.

But fuck it.

I’m going to kick fear in the fucking face and say “what now, bitch?”

I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t care if you think I’m smart or funny or beautiful or interesting or a good writer or the world’s best omelet maker or a complete and utter idiot. I’m not going to sit here and say “I conquered fear. I am not afraid of anything anymore.” Such a lie. I’m scared all the time. I’m scared of the dark (gremlins totally exist and so do ghosts! ha), I’m afraid of serial killers, I’m afraid of being in a car when it’s raining, and I am really afraid that I will get old and be bored.
But I am really grateful, really thankful, for fear. Fear has made me do so many things I never wanted to do, not on the surface anyway. It makes me decide to say fuck it and do it because being afraid sucks and the worst that can happen is that you can die and really, that isn’t so bad. It’s just being dead. And being alive, sitting in your room, wishing you had done something else, is so much fucking worse than being dead.

That’s why I jump. I’d jump with you: but no one wants to jump. My fear comes to me like fire (or like that rabbit from Donnie Darko, wielding a knife, if someone makes me mediatate on my fear…go figure) and I feel stuck in a room. I have to choose between the window or letting myself be burned up. If I jump, I might fly. I might land on an awning and bounce happily. I might fall into a pool, spy style. Or I might splat on the pavement. So worst case is that I die. Which I would do anyway, even if I didn’t jump. Because absolutely no one is coming up the stairs to save me. All those super hot firemen you envision? Totally not coming. Probably rescuing a cat, ‘cause it’s easy.

So okay, I am thankful for fear. And I am also thankful for all the people in my life who take the easy way out, making me have to fend for myself. I don’t mind fending for myself. I do a pretty good job.

“stand up and be a man about it. fight with your bare hands about it.”

figure out what you want and go for it. fight for it. if you want it, it’s worth fighting for. you honestly do have to fight for everything good in this world. no one is going to give it to you easy.

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