A Poem About Mondays

monday

You’re the spilt coffee of mornings

The caterwaul in the dawning

The burst tyre on my car

The friend who is too far

The gum glued to my hair

The reminder of despair

The cut of the knife;

The mundanity of life

Bills to pay

You’re here to stay.

Time swirls like a hair down the drain

We only have ourselves to blame

A Monday tells a tale

Either flourishing or stale;

If you welcome the day with open arms

You’ve caught the elixir to pursue your charms

For the rest of us, Monday pervades

Inspiration rapidly fades.

I’m dreaming of a Monday soon,

One where I can whistle a different tune.

 

 

‘Frozen’ a flash fiction

snow-falling

The slosh of water slapping from underneath the plate as I dumped it on the draining board startled the cat. Henry dived under the pine kitchen table and looked up with giant turquoise eyes. He had seemed spooked all day.  I smiled as I looked out the window to see the kids running under an ashen sky,  grabbing tufts of snow and spraying it above their heads in a flurry of excitement.

A delicate hoarfrost encased all the way around my car. They were darting around it, creating troughs of snow behind them. It made me uneasy although the fog of remembering why eluded me.

I had forgotten I was toasting almonds and their burnt piquancy lingered in the air long after the fire alarm had erupted with a shrill urgency to stop me in my tracks. They wanted baked Alaska. So that’s what I was making them.

I watched as the kids started to roll the powdered slush into large balls.

I looked down at my finger and saw that I had cut myself. Probably on a peeler. I wiped the wound but no break in the skin revealed itself. The blood slid off into the soapy washing up bowl.

‘Mummy!!’ screamed one of the children. ‘A snowman!’

I looked up.

But he had no carrot for a nose, or coal for buttons, or smile upon his frozen face.

Just impenetrable glassy eyes staring out from underneath my car.

A few Days in Spain for Trabajo

imageTravelling to Madrid for work got me thinking about when I visited Madrid with my sister 16 years ago. I can’t believe so much time has passed. Since then I’ve achieved an MA, lived in both NY and LA and managed to get a short story published online as well as appear in a taxi commercial about zombies!
Sometimes (all the time) I forget how much I’ve done. I made a lovely friend at the conference and we decided to do some exploring with the 1 free hour we had! We went to the plaza de Espana and I told her that if it’s the same place I’ve been to, then there will be a man on a horse. She said she would be very disappointed if there wasn’t a man on a horse and at first we couldn’t see one. But sure enough there he was, straddling his steed! This was definitely the place I had been before. What we noticed about Madrid was that it’s not that multi cultural. My new friend is a Muslim and we didn’t see any other people wearing headscarves. Also the tourists they did have – were all  Spanish! This has not changed from when I visited. The plaza itself is gorgeous. Beautiful trees, ice cream stands, and lovely old fashioned street lamps. Another thing we noticed was how ‘open’ the people were, and not just the teenagers – people were practically shagging on the grass. This is probably just because I am so British though – I’m not against it but you just wouldn’t get it at home. We are much more reticent.
Madrid is easy to navigate and the streets are wide so you don’t feel like you are being squished by other people. We also found the ‘green man’ on walkways amusing. He tweets like a bird when it’s safe for a pedestrian to cross and when you run out of time he gets faster.  At first I thought it was someone’s phone, I was like is your rucksack making noises? And then I was like shit, why is your rucksack beeping?!
For our work meal we went to Dantxari restaurant http://www.dantxari.com/ -  An old style place with excellent service by the very hard working waiters who don’t have a food lift so had to run around  2 flights of stairs serving the 40 of us. The style of the restaurant was to surprise us with different dishes which I personally hate as I have a delicate constitution and I’m fussy about a lot of things.
What passed? The salsa starter and my main which was grilled cod, fancy mushrooms and potatoes. What didn’t make the cut? The weird white asparagus which was bitter and had a cold sauce on it (yuck) and the squid full with charcoal coloured ink – no thanks. What I remember about Spain is that they don’t stop bringing food! We had 3 starter dishes, a main, a pudding (champagne sorbet, but more like a slushie), ice cream, liqueur shots, coffee and then wafers with almonds! Phew. I actually only had the sorbet as I was full. Something they offer a lot are bread rolls but where is the mantequila? They never serve with butter, which I’m told is not a Spanish thing. But I love my bread and butter.
Me and my chum discussed places I had been and she was amazed that I had been to so many places. I realised I had – Croatia, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the Middle East, USA Etc.
As I gulped down 10 teas my new friend remarked ‘you are such a Brit’ – (I had been complaining about the lack of the tea in the hotel and then proceeded to inhale it at the conference) -  and you know what, I am, but I’m a very well travelled Brit ;)

Eat, Pray, Fat

 

monica cake
I used to be so slim and gorgeous. I should be so lucky really, and so grateful.  Just because I was young does not automatically grant me the right to be slim. I know people who have   struggled with their weight since they   were very young. But myself, I was under 7 stone in my first year of Uni and a size 6.  I wasn’t underweight or anorexic, I was just slim. I didn’t have   boobs or hips   or a butt of course.   Something that has way changed over the years.  I would be very sad without my juicy doubles don’t get me wrong, I just do miss the old waist line. I   know I’m not obese   or anything, but   being a size 12-14 is the biggest I have ever been, and I’m short, so it really only has one way to go – out!

The weight that I gained started with various medications. It’s quite scary how quickly it piles on. When I came off said medications, 2 stone fell off over about 3 months. I didn’t go the gym   or eat healthy, it just came off. I do get very frustrated with doctors who deny that anything they prescribe you can/will result in weight gain. Why the denial? The proof is in the pudding   (mm pudding. ) Also when it says in the side effects in tiny writing ‘weight gain’ – what’s the big secret? Sadly staying off what your doc prescribes you isn’t always an option.

It doesn’t help that I’m back to doing very mundane things – office life really sucks and I’m extremely bored. I’m sure loads of us feel this way. Apparently only 5% of us like our jobs and are actually doing what we want to. I wonder if those 5% are slim pieces of ass. I’ve been eating unhealthy since, well, the last 2 years?  Probably since I came back from LA.  I couldn’t afford food there which helped, ha. Also in hot climates it tends to decrease my appetite. But more than that – I was acting every day. I had movement classes with a teacher kicking my butt – and I loved it. I was active and mentally stimulated. I also had to walk 20 mins just to get to a tube station (it’s LA after all, if you don’t have a car then what the f is wrong with you. In my case – I didn’t have a car because I was an international student and not that flush.)  There is something to be said for mental stimulation. It was a very satisfying time. I was thinking more about what I was doing, than whether I was hungry. The food is awful in LA. Don’t believe the people who say it’s all healthy – I think the rich all have caterers. I had to go to a subway, just to get a salad, yeh I know.

When things suck, food is a pleasure. It actually releases endorphins, those bloody wonderful happy feelings. Everything  is shite but when I eat this cookie, things are a little less shite; that’s what your brain is thinking. Like everything, it’s a habit. Habits are hard to break. Humans are designed to have patterns, rhythms, habits. Breaking the cycle is trey difficult.

pie

I read that cheese releases the same chemicals in the brain that crack does. And I can totally believe it. Give me a hit of cheddar damnit. I should have known. You forget what an English thing good cheddar is. I discovered that when I went to Italy and I wanted a baked potato with cheese. I went to the supermarket and they sold no such thing. Plenty of mozzarella and feta though (which I also love) but I was having this craving you see. It almost infuriated me. They also can’t do cheddar in the states – it’s this weird orange rubbery nonsense. But I digress. The point is that snacking feels good. Eating, feels good. It’s no excuse, I know. There’s a hilarious moment in Friends, where Phoebe is dating this psychologist, Roger, I think it’s series 1 or 2, and he says to Monica whilst she’s eating a cookie  ‘remember Mon, it’s just food, it’s not love.’ It’s a hilarious moment that we can all sympathise with.  I have to disagree though Roger, it IS love.  Food is my best friend. It feels great. I love it. CAN I MARRY THIS CAKE?

 

roger

I think the obvious thing to do is change the mindset towards food but my god it’s difficult. You know when you are watching your fave netflix show and you think what would make this better? SNACKS! (Remember than meme with that demonic child? Yeh, we’ve all been there!)  Before you know it, you’re knee deep in popcorn and crisps. I mean I heard a friend was. I NEVER do that.

I’ve been cutting carbs on my sister’s  advice, (she’s in great shape) for the last 2 weeks, and I must say it does seem to be making a slow difference. I allow myself a carb for breakfast as this is the trickiest meal to avoid. Oats, toast, it’s all carbilicous. This morning I had the most gorgeous cinnamon bagel…mm. Then for lunch I have been having chicken and salad. For dinner, it’s another protein (fish)  and veg. I actually haven’t had crisps in 2 weeks and that’s unheard of, but your body does adapt. The cravings have stopped, and is it wrong that that disturbs me? Me and crisps were a thing but whatever. We aren’t over though, when it comes to crisps i’ll always have that weakness. Of course another obvious thing to do is up my exercise, but so far only going swimming once a week and it’s not enough. I know, need to kick my arse. If I was exercising all the time I could probably eat what I wanted. But the fact is that I’m not doing it enough, so have to accommodate that.

I would really love lipo in all honesty.  Just on the tum. If I could afford it I would seriously consider it. Although the procedure itself seems grotesque and is the equivalent on your body of being hit but a bus. I realise that makes me sound like a lazy bitch but hey, all the famous people do it! Oh yeh but Kanye West’s mum died having it done so yeh prob not the best option..

Eating right is a discipline. But it helps if you are stimulating your mind, and then the gut usually follows – in all ways.  I’m working on it.

 

What do you guys do to keep it in check? As ever, love to hear your opinions.

ANXIETY

CHARLIE BROWN PIC

Anxiety. It’s a little bitch right? I definitely think it’s something our generation (millennials) massively suffers from. My gran advises me that in her youth, it was a simpler time. Obviously there was no such thing as social media and all the crap that that brings – I’ll be writing a post on this later –but I think she’s right, the whole mental frame was different. Although my grandmother was a young woman in the 40s, she didn’t seem to suffer from repression. Of course, she was lucky. And she was smart. She studied economics and catering, back then. Her education (a rare thing at the time) meant she could walk into work, literally. You would go to an establishment, request to talk to the boss, and in her case, get the job. None of the BS we have to go through when applying to a job. These days, it’s a 15 page dossier, with essay on yourself, suggestions for how their company can improve (market research?) and several  references. Definitely a different time. It’s demoralising having to spend several days on an application only to get a big fat NOTHING in reply. There is no etiquette. It is now generally accepted that if you didn’t get the job, you are not worthy to be advised of that. You feel that you are wasting your time. I suppose in a time of letters and phonecalls you couldn’t really avoid it, but with e-mails, it’s a way of letting employers off the hook.

I suppose in my grandmother’s generation, it wasn’t expected that you be a career woman. The plan was usually to find a man, have some babies and settle down. My grandmother, a stunning brunette from the Isle of Man, did just that. As it turned out, she picked my grandfather;  A handsome officer in the RAF. To say my grandmother was (and still is) a gorgeous woman is not me being biased. Black and white pictures of her in a 50s swimsuit on the beach with perfectly coiffed hair make her look like a movie star. There was no such thing as internet dating (something I have had my fair share of but had no luck with personally and thank god it’s behind me – see my post http://bit.ly/2IJLkRm  No. She said, ‘you got a pretty dress on, you went to a dance, you met a man and you married that man.’  That’s just one angle of it. I’m lucky, being settled down is something that has never given me anxiety (I think I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe actually  - blame the parents and their horrible marriage.) My anxiety, personally stems from not being fulfilled career wise, ‘life wise.’

I have these moments in bed, the ones we all get as humans, where we realise that one day we will be bones in the ground and our existence will have ceased, and you get hot all over and your heart thumps in your chest and you realise there is not a single thing you can do about it – one day you will be dead. (You have had this too, right?) Sometimes I don’t know how we as humans just go about our business when at the end of it all, we won’t be here. It’s kinda demotivating. It’s a terrifying notion, mostly because we are designed to survive, to continue; humans cannot comprehend their own end. I have this debate with my boyfriend frequently. IF we are designed to die one day (which we are) then why are we not okay with it? Why is there not a genome switched on, that makes you not care about that. Something that means that you just accept it. Because we do not accept it.  Even people of faith, when it comes down to it, do not want to go. Do not want to welcome death. I know a very religious person who had a heart attack. As they lay on the floor, they did not think, ‘Okay god I’m ready, take me, let’s go, let’s do this shiz,’ no, they thought, ‘I’m petrified, I don’t want to die.’ When I was younger, it was the idea of it that really bothered me – not existing any more (also, going mouldy, not to be gross but this is something else that freaks me out but I digress) These days, it’s more about what death represents. I don’t feel like I have amounted to much. I have let myself down. This is how I feel. And I hate to let myself down. Other people on the outside, can’t see it. ‘But you have lived in New York, LA, you have a degree, you have travelled.’ Yes, all great stuff, that I am grateful for. But I am not where I want to be. And it bothers me. It gives me anxiety.

And I feel guilty. With all the technology that we have these days, why haven’t I made it? Why am I not more successful?

If Amelia Earheart can fly a plane in the 20s, why the fuck can’t I find a job I like? What am I doing wrong?

amelia earheart

The fear is that I have to pay the bills so I get panicked, accept some shite and invariably spend the whole time feeling miserable. I do not know how to break the cycle though. And it’s obvious to employers that this is what I’m doing and clearly that’s not attractive. But I have to work, I have to earn. If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

I suspect other people feel like this. These days, we are told we can have everything. And then if we don’t have everything, we feel a bit useless. Because we have ‘so many opportunities’ we are meant to be thriving everywhere – financially, on social media, romantically, career wise. Damnit if you haven’t got stocks and bonds and 3 houses and glorious holidays and an ambition to be an astronaut in your spare time.

There are other things plaguing our generation too.

My parents’ generation got grants to study at Uni. Something my auntie once told me gleefully that she ‘spent it all on drugs and never had to pay a penny back.’ Our generation had to get student loans. And that debt hangs over me to this day, more than 10 years after graduation.

It’s harder for us to get on the property ladder. The largest proportion of aged 30-40 year olds ever are still living with their parents because they can’t afford not to. I’m lucky, I live with my boyfriend, but if I didn’t – I would have to live with family – something a lot of people in that situation find depressing.

Having a degree these days are ten a penny and don’t seem to be as valuable as ‘experience.’ And how the hell do you get experience if no-one gives you that chance? You are expected to intern for free, which is fine if you can AFFORD that. If you haven’t got someone supporting you, that can be nigh on impossible. But even when when applying to unpaid internships; because it’s a way of getting in to more desirable companies, it remains extremely competitive, and difficult to penetrate.

We have lived through a recession. I couldn’t get a job at this time and it was fucking miserable. I remember a headline at the Guardian ‘I went to Cambridge and the only job I can get is a cleaner.’ It was a damn stressful time, and one in which our generation particularly suffered.

So it’s no bloody wonder this anxiety we have! So, what to do to combat it?

I tried medication, which I found to be helpful, but it made me fat. This then made me anxious. Oh the irony. So I came off those. They don’t actually ‘solve’ anything. But if you are getting so anxious you can’t see straight, it helps to level you.

 

I tried Yoga. But the bit where the teacher says ‘okay now everyone relax, switch off your thoughts and breathe’ DOES NOT work for me. For those who can make mediation work for you; Namaste.

All the quiet did was make my brain go into overdrive. I’m very thinky anyway, so I find it difficult to switch off. If I did manage a moment of mental peace, I was then hyper aware of everyone loudly breathing/snoring/farting and I found this annoying.

YOGA

Exercise is one thing that I do find really helps. Not the pretzel, slow kind as above but actually building a sweat kind. Circuits is bloody hard, but it’s such work that you kinda forget about everything and start to see stars. My personal favourite is swimming. Although the washing the hair bit is an arse, the actual exercise works your whole body, can be done faster or slower, and I find it very enjoyable. I also do lots of thinking when I swim – but it’s more processing – I internally break down the day and the things troubling my mind and try to tackle them. Or I just think about the lastest Netflix show I’m loving and wondering what that twist means. It’s healthy thinking. Afterwards, I always feel super productive and good about myself.

I find writing really helpful. You don’t have to be Bronte to find that writing is a great release. For me, it’s therapeutic, but if you are more methodical, make lists and jot things down.  I really think I should start a dream journal too, because I have vivid, crazy, creative dreams every night, and some would make epic films. My online published story was conceived entirely from a dream I had  http://bit.ly/2IIKQLa

So, in conclusion, I’m always sort of battling the anxiety dragon. But I think we have good reason. It’s just trying to manage it. And trying to break the bad  job cycle (which I think perpetuates a lot of anxiety)

 

What do you do to combat anxiety? I would love to hear your suggestions.

 

There’s No Crying In Baseball

cry face

 

I have started to think I am an emotional wreck.

Films which I have seen multiple times which made me cry the first time, make me cry all over again. EVERY single time.

Even those videos on facebook of someone overcoming something/someone being nice/just humanity at its best, and I’m a blubbering mess. Works both ways though – if I see a story about a child or animal being bullied then I start crying too.

My boyfriend is used to it now.  I would start crying and he would be like ‘oh, what’s wrong’ *hugs* etc. Now he hears/sees me sniffling and he rubs my back patiently while he carries on reading his book/playing xbox/killing the bad guys.

Surely when it comes to film though, this is just a testament to how good that particular director is? How the whole ensemble (composer, writer, director etc) just know how to kick your ass emotionally? OR should I have got over it by now?

Films make me cry for all sorts of reasons. But I think it keys into something deeper. Maybe that’s why I am able to cry on stage? My emotions are all bubbling below the skin. I once watched an interview with the fantastic Sally Field who I think is just wonderful. The interviewer said to her ‘I’ve read that you can famously cry on command, anywhere, any how. Is that true?’ Sally proceeded to reply and started to cry. Like, properly cry. It was incredible to watch. She confessed: ‘it’s always there just below the surface, ready for me to access it.’ She hinted that she hadn’t had the best time growing up. Maybe that’s it – my unhappy childhood. Sally is a masterclass in acting – I recommend you watch her in, well, anything.

I cry when people I have never met who have had an impact on my life, die. I don’t understand people who are so cold as to say ‘I didn’t know him, who cares if he’s dead?’ You may not have known him, but he was a PERSON, with feelings, thoughts, family, loved ones. I don’t ascribe to the notion that if you didn’t know them, they are irrelevant. I find that totally dispassionate. When Robin Williams died, I sobbed. And I know I wasn’t the only one. I remember seeing a rapper on TV saying he was heartbroken about it. It was heartbreaking, it was fucking shocking. I couldn’t believe it. I was gobsmacked and horrified and so sad that he had ended it himself too. It made me wonder if I had known him, could I have stopped it? Yes, seriously, that thought crossed my mind. I thought he had been failed by the people who knew him. It was too tragic. He was a fantastic actor, in some truly poignant films.

I suppose that is something to make note of: that film and TV has always been an escape for myself and my siblings. When everything was shit at home, we could always escape into a film. When I was hating school, I would always think ‘just 6 hours until I can watch ER. It will be okay.’

There is something therapeutic about crying at films or TV or theatre.  It’s guilt free crying. It’s a sort of camaraderie for the character or situation. A lot of times when I feel like crap, I will put a film on that I know will make me blub just for a good release.  I know imdb releases a ‘films that make you cry’ list and I’m going to add my own.

So, here are some films that make me cry and the psychology behind it (for me). Don’t worry it’s not a complete list – we would be here all night!

 

Forrest Gump

forrest-gump

Think you would have to have a heart of stone not to feel something with this one. (Although I know people who didn’t like it – philistines!)  I remember watching this for the first time when I was about 13 years old and having to hold back the huge heaving tears that were spilling out of my eyes.  From losing his best friend to when his mum (spoiler alert) dies. Played by Sally Field again and she’s just fantastic in this film. It is not only the fact that she is dying. It’s the fact that she’s so lovely and that they are talking about what destiny is – what the point of life is essentially. I think we can all relate to that. The final punch to the chest is when he has finally got with the love of his life Jenny and then she dies and he is sobbing at her graveside. Kid you not I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Tom Hanks as well is of course exquisite. Can’t forget the gorgeous score by Alan Silvestri, which is just caramel for the ears. Breaks my heart every time I hear it.

 

The Theory of Everythingtheory-of-everything-2

This one is especially pertinent with Stephen Hawking recently dying – something else that made me cry. No, I didn’t know him but what he contributed to our planet and universe is immeasurable and I’m just glad I could co-exist in the same time space as him. This film is basically a beautiful portrait of his beginnings and obviously what happens to him. The music as well just melts my heart. The score is by Jóhann Gunnar Jóhannsson who tragically died recently too.

 

Good Will Hunting good_will_hed

 

The scene where Robin Williams says ‘it’s not your fault.’   Oh my heart. My brother always says this to me, half as our own in-joke and half when I’m feeling like crap because he knows it gets to me!

What a beautiful film, with Oscar worthy performances and again a beautiful score by Danny Elfman. The kind of music which is raw, rustic, golden. Almost music heard through a filter of the past if such a thing existed. Either way, the ability to tap into my emotions.

The story of a kid who has been in the social system and basically had it crap but has great friends and a wonderful therapist. Oh yeh, and he’s a genius. It helps that Boston is sort of a character in the film. I love me some Boston. Great city.

 

A league Of Their Own tom hanks and geena davis (2)

 

No, not the crummy tv series with James Corden, but the wonderful baseball movie starring Geena Davis and Tom hanks. I know, baseball!? I have no idea about it either, but it’s not really about that. It’s about friendship and struggle and sibling rivalry and competition and sisterhood and being a part of something. Dear lord I love it. Again, it is complimented by the enriching score by Hans Zimmer. That’s right, old Hans can do big epic futuristic (ala Inception) and also home grown sweet chick flick movie. The bit that makes me cry (amongst others) is when Geena Davis is leaving the league (oh god no) and she says to Hanks, ‘it just got too hard.’ And Hanks replies:

‘It’s supposed to be hard, if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard, is what makes it great.’ It gets to me because I struggle with not being creatively satisfied, that it’s just so damn hard to get anywhere, that maybe I should quit. And then I hear that quote and it gets me. He’s right. Subtext: perseverance. Love this film.

 

There are a ton more; Shawshank, Field of Dreams, Legends of the fall (gulp) and I could go on and on but the moral is that films are great ok? They can be a saviour. This is why people get so fanatical about them. Tonight, in honour of Hawking, I’ll be watching TTOE again. And I’ll be crying, again. And I’m not ashamed of it <3

 

 

I’ll be there for you (or not)

JEN PIC

So, it’s all over the news. Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have split up. And once again, what irritates me is the criticism she has received. I’m not trying to jump on the band wagon here. And I’m not a fan girl, I can’t tell you what her dogs are called, or her favourite ice cream. Yes I adored Friends, but this observation is more about being a fellow human and woman. Considering the current climate, men everywhere are probably worried we are going to start burning our bras again. The platform is shifting, and so it should, but it’s a collective consciousness that we should be striving for, and sadly women still troll other women.

Even the language in these vacuous pop up videos, ‘JEN didn’t want to move from LA, JEN didn’t like it in NY, JEN is a Cali girl.’ Yep, probably all true but I think there’s probably more to it than that. And why isn’t it, ‘JUSTIN couldn’t stand LA?’ These tacky entertainment vids are subtly trying to make us think that she is at fault. Relationships are a two way street, and that’s a tough street sometimes.

I thought Justin seemed pleasant enough, but what I noticed was that he never seemed that fussed you know? Always a forced smile. In interviews talking about her he looked uncomfortable. This isn’t to diminish their love. He’s obviously not that demonstrative. But maybe Jen needs someone who is. Actually, scrap that, she definitely needs someone who is.

After the hardship with her mother, and in interviews where she revealed she felt like she wasn’t good enough, she needs someone to be like ‘OMG, I’m, I’M with Rachel’ ya know? Because it doesn’t matter if you are the most famous person on the planet, if people everywhere think you are gorgeous (and they do) nothing will matter when you have grown up with your own parent telling you that you’re ugly. Jen has described her low self esteem from her mother repeatedly telling her that she was ‘unbeautiful.’ Reading about her mother’s comments, she was just downright cruel, and it was totally unnecessary. Jennifer has said that her mother was ‘gorgeous, stunning, and I’m not and I’m fine with that.’ That statement is a little bit sad; Jen was trolled by her own mother, and worst of all, she believed it. The irony is, I would wager, that it was the opposite of what she thought – her mother was probably jealous of her daughter, and saw the potential in her to go further than she ever would.

There are also the trolls on the web – something Jen knows all too well and probably why she steers well clear of social media because it would just be one long bummer. But to the people saying she can’t hold a man – how ridiculous is that? I didn’t realise that all of the responsibility fell to her. We could say he can’t hold a woman, but we don’t. The scrutiny is always on the woman. Even when brad Pitt left her, there were still people saying ‘it must be something she did… She didn’t give him children’ well actually it’s highly likely he was already being unfaithful, and that’s not Jennifer’s fault, that was his choice. He didn’t have a gun against his head (or maybe he did, Angelina is known to be into weird stuff) and actually we have no idea why they didn’t have children but who cares. It’s their business. Apart from her eloquent essay in the Huffington post, http://bit.ly/2Bd75az  Jennifer has remained extremely reticent about all the irritating people banging on about her having children. People are obsessed and it’s kinda weird. To these people, you do realise if Jennifer has a baby it won’t affect your life? Your marriage won’t get better? Your relationships won’t be better. Hashtag your obsession is weird, let it go.

If the tabloids are to be believed (and they aren’t) the problem was their differing lifestyles – her a Cali girl, him a hipster in New York. There was also talk of Jen not feeling comfortable with him hanging out with a 25 year old grungy girl photographer (insert her name here. I’m not giving her fame.)  Erm, I’m with Jen. I don’t think any woman would be comfortable with this, or see his need to hang out with her. Sure, in a group, you have friends and stuff in common and of course men and women can be friends (can they?)  But if he felt the need to regularly see her privately, damn straight this is an issue. I’m trying really hard not to come across as man judging (I love men) but it does sound like he was being, dare I say it, selfish. My grandmother once told me; ‘2 things to know about men- they don’t want to hear your problems and they will always be selfish.’ This wasn’t even said in malice – it was just her observation.

At the end of the day, it’s just a shame. I think after all the shit she’s been through she deserves happiness. On the plus side she has such a fierce network of strong women around her – Ellen, Courtenay, Chelsea to name but a few – that I think she’ll be okay. She’s a girl’s girl, and she can do better.

As for brad Pitt? I have seen people literally exploding on twitter (okay not literally, gross) at the thought of them back together and are hoping for a reunion but somehow I don’t think that would be the healthiest thing for her. Or that she would even be that fussed – he has his own issues. One of them being that he has to deal with an icy ex and that he has about 45 kids to attend to. And that he won’t be the same person. Having said that!  Healthy schmealthy – if it makes her feel better I say go for it – they are both single after all.

This isn’t her first rodeo. But let’s not punish Jennifer for her relationship history or for eating a burger or for essentially being a human. We all are, funnily enough.

Fortune Favours the Bold

NEW YORK SKYLINE

So, it’s been a criminally long time since I last blogged. Why you ask (or not) well I’ll answer it anyway. Life, work, distraction, motivations. Here’s the truth and the sad thing about modern life and society; I want to write every day. I just feel so damn guilty because it’s not something that is bringing in money (sadly I’m not one of those blogs that is monetized – probably because I don’t bloody blog enough.) In today’s age we are conditioned to think that if it’s not gonna make us rich, it’s a complete waste of time. (Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE to be rich, but is that our only motivation?) Often we don’t pursue our passions because it’s not seen as something that will lead anywhere. Yes, there are the JK Rowlings of this world but that kind of success is rare, as we are often told (bludgeoned over the head with.) And there is that sense of judgement and derision which is such a sticky residue that it’s hard to get off. I admire the teflons of the world – Stallone was told numerous times that it was a big fat no re Rocky. ‘You’re too ugly, too unknown, it will never sell.’ How he didn’t punch himself in the face and torch the script right there is beyond me, but he didn’t, and it’s what made him. He pursued. He had faith. Man, I’m jealous – how do I get that?

FORTUNE

 

It took me 5 years after graduation to apply to a summer drama program in New York, even though I knew I wanted to go a further 3 years before that, for fear of what people (mainly the elders of the family) would think. Dad always thought actors were drug addicts or porn stars. In some cases, yeh he was right but I tried to reassure him that if I had wanted to be either of those things, I WOULD be already. He didn’t see the humour. I remember at Uni getting the prospectus for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I was SO excited. As I leafed through the pages, a grin on my face, my housemate said – is that where you are going yeh? ‘Maybe’ I replied. She looked disappointed for me, probably realizing I was foiling myself. ‘You should go, you will be great.’ Her enthusiasm and support was lovely, but I was much more used to listening to the doubters. Besides, she was going to be a doctor so what did she know? She was going into a ‘real’ profession.  It used to be much more of a taboo to say you wanted to be an actor or a writer. People would look at you as if you just said you wanted to transform into an underwater mermaid – interesting idea, never gonna happen. I’d get a look of pity, as if I had just declared I wanted to climb Everest naked – an idea doomed to failure. Oddly I got a more positive response if I said I wanted to do something benign like work in customer service (does anyone actually aspire to that?)

The negative voices pervaded; ‘You should be earning, saving, doing ANYTHING.’

‘At your age I had a mortgage and 3 kids to support, get your head out of the clouds.’

I’m sad to say I definitely let it affect me. I’ve done so many shit jobs I can’t even count, stuff I’ve absolutely hated. With people I’ve hated! All for the ‘greater good.’ But what is that exactly? I’ve been miserable. Completely creatively unsatisfied. Another thing a shitty 9-5 does is drain your energy and then the last thing you want is to switch a computer on again after staring at one for 9 hours. I admire the people that do have the discipline, but I hear that voice in my ear ‘it’s never gonna happen, it’s a waste of time -give in to the void of the humdrum.’ Except I don’t want to give in to the void.

When I applied to AADA, I was at a low. Uni was well in the rear view mirror and I was doing a succession of crap jobs thinking is this it? Is life never gonna be fun or satisfying or stimulating again?

After my audition, and 4 long weeks going by, I got the letter on my doorstep. I remember I was shaking, which showed me just how much I wanted it.

When I saw that I was accepted, I was ecstatic.

When Jennifer Aniston said Vince Vaughn was her defibrillator, I kinda knew what she meant, because NY was definitely mine. I was very lucky because my experience was wonderful. I had an amazing, funny, supportive class, an inspiring teacher and great housemates to boot. It was as if the stars had aligned. That is so cheesy, but you have to understand the stars don’t usually align for me – this was something really special. It made me have an epiphany – life could be great, I could be creatively satisfied, mentally stimulated and excited about things once again. It just took courage for me to pursue a passion.

Now I know this isn’t always an option. In fact 95% of the time it’s not. This isn’t an after school special. Life a lot of the time sucks, and it gets in the way. And it’s frustrating.

But it starts by overcoming the fear. The anxiety. By ignoring the people who are too keen to piss on your parade. Those success stories you hear about are because people said ‘great story, but Imma do it my way haters.’ I wish I had that resolve sometimes. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty scared about uprooting and moving to New York without knowing anyone. But it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. Fortune indeed, favours the bold.

It’s the ten year anniversary of my trip to NY and I think of it often. I’m still friends with those I met there and I know I’m so lucky to be. Nothing I do now will discount that experience. I just need to somehow harness the magic of that trip, and apply it to my life. So I’m starting by writing again, I’m starting by blogging again. And any suggestions you have, I’m all ears.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Midnight Special – a review. #film

midnight-special-poster

So Midnight Special.

 

Please only read this if you have seen it – contains some spoilers.

 

I thought about acting school recently – my teacher said ‘as a protagonist you always need to lose. In all major movies, the good guy loses, even if he gains.’  I thought about major movies. My god she was right – Shawshank – he loses his wife, his freedom, his friends, Forrest Gump – he loses the love of his life and so much more, Casablanca he loses his love, Raging Bull etc you get the picture. They all lose. Got it.

And while Michael shannons’ character in Midnight Special very much loses something very important to him – I didn’t feel like Alton, his son, was losing anything.

Alton, as you may have guessed, is extremely special. The title of the movie actually refers to a late night news report about the fact he is missing. A man, played by Michael Shannon, appears to be missing with him. His importance isn’t stressed at first, but you guessed it – he’s his father. Alton does a lot of screaming and crying and shooting bright effervescent blue laser beams out of his eyes for no apparent reason.  It’s certainly mysterious, interesting. But when the thing happens that is supposed to split us apart as an audience – it doesn’t happen. There was no struggle, no sadness at leaving his human* birth* ? parents. The thing about ET was that he knew he had to go home – but he had bonded with Elliott – it was going to be a struggle – he was going to miss his friend. This is what tugs at the heartstrings, this is what moves you, this is what causes that conflict in ourselves. As an audience we are completely invested, and devastated really, that this friendship and bond gets terminated. You all blubbed watching ET too, admit it.

 

While Midnight Special was tense – and it certainly was -the tension is ratcheted up beautifully, to the point where you are almost uncomfortable, squirming in your cinema seat.  The thing is, I didn’t feel very much else. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel turmoil at the predicament. The parents had completely, almost matter of factly, accepted the fact that their son was probably going to be jetting off to another plane.  I didn’t feel anything from Alton – the boy. He told his parents not to worry. But he was quite happy to bugger off back to his people.

And although Michael Shannon has a very intense face – and his face is perfect for these odd, tortured parts due to his very bizarre, almost boggly eyed look- I was almost distracted to the point of not getting much else from him. It was a stress for sure, having the FBI on your arse, trying to capture your other-worldly son, but what else was going on? I didn’t get the layers (did you Mary Berry?) No offence to Mr. Shannon, I think he’s a good actor, but I wasn’t receiving the subtext.  He was always so tense, that anything else was almost inaccessible.

I also didn’t really get a sense of why he was where he was as a character.  Why had his son been adopted? Had he been a bit of a crap father and then had an attack of guilt last minute? Was it because he left the creepy cult acrimoniously? Having not brought up his son, was this why he was seemingly so detached?

Joel Edgerton on the other hand was fantastic. I felt the most from him. His guilt about the storm trooper they shot, the concern about the boy’s health, his empathy at the family that couldn’t be – shown by very subtle actions, basically you could read his face like a book. He’s very good at emoting. Not what I expected, having just seen Exodus, in which he was fine but the character was  a brash buffoon (and hard to accept as an Egyptian when he looked more like an eastern European wearing eye liner ha.) But he did impress me in this. I could see someone like Jake Gyllenhaal taking the part of the father (had he been older.) He would have been good too.

I will say that this film was super compelling. It’s a chase movie really, with supernatural elements. A road movie without the popcorn and soundtrack. An ‘us against them,’ the ‘little guy versus ‘the man.’

There is a wonderful reveal at the end, I won’t go so far as to say ‘twist’ and I certainly won’t say what it is (even though this review pretty much has ruined it for you all anyway.)

Midnight Special is definitely worth the watch. If you have seen it, please let me know what you thought, in the comments below.

And if you haven’t seen ET, then get a hold of yourself, and go and watch it immediately – it’s a master class in how to do it :)

 

The End of Longing – a review

The_End_of_Longing

So a couple of weeks ago my lovely friend who lives in London treated us to tickets to see ‘The End of Longing’ – a play conceived by and starring Matthew Perry. The reviews had been mixed and one of my friends warned they heard it was awful but I like to make my own mind up about things and try to avoid reviews like the plague (how ironic as I write this) because I don’t like to have any pre conceptions before seeing/experiencing something. Otherwise you don’t know if what you are thinking is your own feeling, or something subliminal.

That in mind, this does contain spoilers, so I would only advise that you read on if you have already seen it, or you are the kind of person who loves spoilers, you devil you (my aunt is such a person.)

I have to start by saying that the name Matthew Perry  is very much the reason this got to the west end. Friends was, and still is, huge (see my previous post about it http://www.lippychick.co.uk/the-one-with-all-the-talk-about-friends/). It’s certainly a creative dream to write something and have it performed on stage (I had this pleasure at University.) Even more luxurious to be the person to star in it too, after all, who knows how to interpret your writing better than you?

I just wish he had been braver. I wish it hadn’t been so predictable. If themes of ‘life is pointless’ etc then where was the moment where life IS displayed to be random and unpredictable and completely unyielding. The play opens with the character of Stephanie, a prostitute, telling us ‘It’s not my dream to work on my back, but then again neither am I happy about the fact we all DIE at the end of our lives!’ Each character is introduced in a snappy way, to give us an insight into their motives, and so that we as an audience don’t have to think too much. We get all four of their MOs in the opening 30 seconds. Fine. It’s just that none of them have a proper story arc. None of them develop. There is no rite of passage, no real suffering. A lot of arguing, a lot of matt pushing his grey hair back and swearing but no epiphanies. The fact that Joseph prays hysterically for his ill and pregnant girlfriend, and she is saved – is Matthew Perry trying to tell us he’s secretly religious, or does he not want to offend anyone ? OR does he really want to believe that there is life after death? (As this is something he is seemingly wrestling with.)  The scene where Joseph is praying could have poignant, maybe, but it’s still interjected with jokes when he is ‘talking to God in the church.’ He starts by thanking him for an encounter he had with another woman… it just made it hard to take seriously.
It’s clichéd, it’s cloying. It’s very American.
It didn’t move me, but I really really wanted it too.
Of course Matthew Perry can act. We’ve seen him do it before. He was very convincing as a drunk – I suppose he’s had lots of practice (sorry Matt) and it’s definitely a well observed take on our society – especially the women – we are all neurotic head cases. There’s so much to worry about these days, and modern technology (ie smart phones and social media) haven’t helped one bit. We have all become obsessive, paranoid cluster fucks ‘he hasn’t texted me in 4 hours, what does this mean?!’ And I love the line ‘why aren’t you in therapy? Maybe we should put you in therapy so we can figure out why you aren’t in therapy!’
The writing was really good in some places, like the example above. Other times it was cloying and dragged a little bit.
I was most disappointed that I predicted the whole thing. I would have loved a twist. I also found it strange, that Matt having been an alcoholic in real life, thought it was realistic for his character to declare and successfully quit drink in 30 days (as he promises her character he will.)
And it definitely had far too many ‘fucks’ in it (swearing, not literal fucks although I suppose that would have been entertaining.) To the point where it loses all meaning and you think that it’s a lazy writing device. All the characters swore. There was no differential in terms of their dialogue, which speaks volumes about character, except for the ones they banged over our heads – Joseph is stupid, Stevi is neurotic, Jack’s a drunk, Stephanie has daddy issues.
I’m afraid I found the delivery of Stephanie so sing songey that I found it difficult to connect with her as a human being. She was fine being a prostitute and made loads of money ($2500 per guy, really? Did the customers get a gold model of her vagina at the end?) I think I found her to be the most 2D. And realistically, Stevi, who found Joseph dull and boring, would have settled with him for 2 minutes before it all turned to shit in reality. What her character screamed was desperation and ‘ladies, if he likes you, settle, at least it’s *someone* girls!’ Not such an attractive or realistic prospect.
There were a few moments that made you semi smile, but unfortunately no laugh out loud moments. Lots of ‘Friends’ style devices – leaving a long pause after someone delivers a line and then saying your one worder-  ’anyway.’
There was also a lot of waiting for the laughs – which Matt did frequently – and he did get them – people who adored him as Chandler were fawning over him in the front row. Pretty sure he could have dropped a turd on stage and people would have loved it – such is his gravitas and preceding reputation.
I don’t want to completely trash it of course. It was certainly watchable and ticked along. There was potential here.  But there was no epiphany, no defining change, no development of character and nothing that made me emote. And it’s very easy to make me emote. I’m a softie. I like to feel when I go to the Theatre. But all I could feel was how hard my seat was, and the legs from the person behind me, pressed into my back.
The end of longing was fine, but it could have been so much more.