Remembering September 11th

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People who were alive then, always say they remember exactly where they were when Kennedy died and how absolutely shocking it was. It was the same when Princess Diana died; I was a young teenager but I remember hearing it on the news on my little Sony radio. It was a Sunday and I can vividly recall the ghastly orange curtains I had with pictures of stuffed animals painted all over them. I remember looking at these drapes as the awful news spilled out of my sound system and filled my little box room. I was utterly stunned. I, along with the rest of the world, was completely enchanted by her and some people just seem too iconic to be extinguished. The same as some landmarks. New York has many –  The Empire State building, the Chrysler building, and at that time – the Twin Towers.    And just as with this, all who were there and conscious and old enough to – we all remember where we were when 9/11 happened.

I was working a really boring summer job on a production line, and my ‘role’ was to push some wires into an LED board and pass it along. Over and over again. As the job was so mundane we were allowed to listen to the radio and the general consensus for the station was Radio 1. At the time, the songs that repeatedly rang in my ears were So Solid crew’s ’21 seconds to go’, Aliyah’s ‘If at first you don’t succeed’ and Gwen Stefani’s ‘Let me blow ya mind.’ The songs were played on a cycle and I was sick of them. But on that morning like any other, the mundanity of life was pierced by an unscheduled news reports which blazed across the airwaves. It was just after 2pm here in England, so about 9ish in the morning in New York city.

‘A plane has collided with one of the twin towers, this is all the information we have right now, we don’t know if this is an accident or what has happened. This is a breaking story.’ We all looked at each other in disbelief. A plane? Colliding with a skyscraper?  We couldn’t fathom how a plane would even be flying that low, much less the ‘chances’ of it crashing into a building. Less than 10 minutes later another news bulletin ripped across the broadcast: ‘A second plane has hit the other tower, this is now likely to be considered a terrorist attack.’ The words of the journalist hung in the air like poison ‘terrorist attack.’ It was really frightening to hear those words. We may have been 3000 miles away, but America seemed untouchable – this huge superpower being reduced to this awful event. How could this happen? It was the words on everyone’s lips. And at this point, no-one knew the details. Compounding the fear for me personally was that my boyfriend of the time was actually in America and due to be getting on a plane to fly home that day.

We didn’t get the enormity of the damage until we got home that day. My friend and I worked at the same place and went to hers after to get dinner. Her mother had the TV on; the news outlets had videos of the towers streaming constantly, showing thick billowing black smoke and fire erupting out of them. Honestly, it looked like a disaster movie. It was awful and chilling and gut wrenching all at the same time. They kept showing the black silhouette of the second plane hurtling towards the South Tower before being obscured in view and then the resulting  fireball cloud enveloping the building. Even watching this, thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world, it felt frightening. It seemed unfathomable that all the pieces that would need to be planned, undetected, could lead us to this point. Questions were aimed at the FBI, the CIA, did they know? The firestorm that emerged from this, and the global implications from this nightmare were only beginning. The ensuing years and the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ era and emerging war in the Middle East has had many questioning the transparency of 9/11. All I personally know, is that it is a tragedy that has affected not just the Americans, but those worldwide. One of my uni friends, an affable English bloke, had an auntie who worked in the world trade center.  She would normally have been at work at that time but was pregnant and had an OBGYN appointment to attend that morning before returning to work after lunch.

Her building wasn’t there after lunch. Being at that appointment was the thing that ended up saving her life – her office was in the direct pathline of one of the planes.

To this day, it is still so visceral. I hadn’t visited New York yet in my life, but had always wanted to. On that fateful day, the 2 towers were reduced to rubble, collapsing in a heap of smoke and ash.

When I first visited New York in 2003, I couldn’t bring myself to visit ‘ground zero.’ It felt disrespectful, voyeuristic even – at this point it was just leveled ground of those had died terribly and tragically.

I still didn’t visit when I lived in New York just 4 years later. The city itself was everything I imagined it would be – fabulous, bustling, awe inspiring. And the people are strong, resilient and there is a real sense of community. My walk to classes each day consisted of seeing policemen chat, navigating past the busy building site where the workmen got to know me and would yell ‘late again?’ whilst laughing, and me shooting back ‘you know me!’ I waved to the guys who worked in the flower shop, mostly because I was always tripping on their hose pipe which was nourishing the outdoor plants with water. The city is amazing and magical, and it’s a testament to this great place that they have been able to rebuild and stay strong.

I can only imagine what those New Yorkers went through that day. When I see videos even now of that day of destruction, it makes me feel emotional and I wasn’t even there.

The thing that really resonates is listening to all of those voicemails from people in the towers or on the planes.

One woman’s message is ‘Pick up sweetie..ok well I’m stuck in the tower, we’ve had a little problem. I wanted to tell you I love you so much. I don’t know if I will get to say those words to you again..’  That simple (incredibly calm) message made me cry instantly. There was so much outpouring of love in those crucial, frantic and fraught hours.

2,996 people died that day, with a further 6000 being injured.

The bravery of everyone involved including the amazing firemen who sacrificed their lives, the policemen, the servicemen, the people on the street even – is to be commended.

Rest in peace to all that lost their lives and know that we will never forget. Much love coming from this English girl who has a special place in her heart for this great city.

 

 

 

I will always love you, Whitney

whitney

 

Turns out I’m not the only one with a fascination with Whitney Houston. Well, clearly. Kevin Macdonald’s new film ‘Whitney’ is showing and it didn’t take a new film about her being made to make me think of her. I have Whitney in most of my Youtube playlists. When I’m out with the girls if we hear ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ we give each other a knowing look, toss our drinks to the side and clamber for the dancefloor. It’s such a club banger, guaranteed to lift any mood. Hell, when I was at uni and the neighbours were annoying me with bad tunes, I said to my roommate ‘I’m gonna bust out some Whitney to sort this.’  If in doubt – always Whitney.

When I watch her music videos and her interviews I still get emotional. In the Diane Sawyer interview, where she famously claimed ‘crack is whack’ she seemed defiant but also with a clear sign of the demons – I would venture she was on something before that interview. She even said ‘the devil is in me’ in response to questions about addiction. What makes all of her issues seem even more layered are the sensational claims that she was abused by her cousin; Dee Dee Warwick. To be honest when I heard this, I thought it all made perfect sense. I am no psychologist, but the evidence suggests that a lot of the time, those who are abused  tend to self medicate. Well, who wouldn’t? I am guessing all you want to do is dull out those horrible memories and the ghastly feelings they stir up. And to make matters worse? It was a member of her own family for F sake.

It still irks me a little bit that I discovered of her passing in an ex boyfriend’s tweet. My brother, living in America at the time, had texted me to say I was in for a ‘big shock.’ He had sent it whilst I was asleep (time difference) and I had got up to pee. I went on the internet and typed in ‘news’ but weirdly that didn’t come up. And whilst scrolling twitter saw the tweet. I was gutted. Honestly heartbroken. I had grown up with Whitney. I watched The Bodyguard with my friends at my first ‘big girl party’ and fell in love… with both of them. Any critic who didn’t enjoy the film, clearly didn’t understand it. I saw a ridiculous review that said they didn’t ‘see these two together, and they were working hard to seem like a pair’ to me that just says this person was trying to hide their thinly veiled racism about an interracial couple (this was a big deal at the time, 1992 unbelievably.)  The chemistry between Houston and Costner sizzles – and the movie went on to make over $400 million at the box office, with the soundtrack becoming the best selling soundtrack of all time, selling more than 45 million copies worldwide.Make of that what you will.

Six years later after she’s gone, I still can’t seem to get enough of her songs, her beautiful face, and that bejewelled voice. I honestly think she has the best voice I have ever heard. Her control and range is insane. Truly. Try and listen to anyone else attempt her songs. None of these X factor wannabes  who copy her every year, come anywhere close to her talent. She is so gorgeous as well. Her stunning light cocoa skin, dark doe eyes and broad smile. She is one of the few stars that has that je nais se quois– where you can’t take your eyes off her – you want to know what she is going to do next, such is her magnetism.

Someone like Taylor Swift, I find dull as dishwater.  I couldn’t get obsessed with her because she is so boring (to me anyway – not trying to hate, opinions and all that.)  But I would say I am definitely obsessed with Whitney Houston in some way. I can’t scroll any of her songs even though I have heard them a thousand times. I can’t not watch her music videos, just because I have to drink in her talent and beauty.  In fact, as I write this, I’m listening to a Whitney playlist on Youtube.

It’s interesting that she didn’t have much confidence when filming The Bodyguard. I guess her expertise was the music and not necessarily acting, but still, I would have imagined her to feel untouchable when it came to something else in the entertainment field. Kevin Costner, a brilliant actor and a person who is extremely reticent, actually spoke at her funeral. He said she doubted herself; wondered if people would like her performance. He said ‘they didn’t like you Whitney, they loved you.’ She also admitted in her interview with Oprah, that ‘every day I wanted to quit. I didn’t think I could do it.’ This surprises me in some ways, in other ways it makes sense because of everything else going on. When watching he Oprah interview, my first thought was how fragile she was ; her raspy voice, her thin frame; still beautiful of course.

I know we can’t play this game, but I always wonder where these people’s loved ones/ friends/ people who give a shit were when things like this happen? There’s footage of Whitney, clearly intoxicated, barging into an interview with her manager Clive Davis and Brandy, swaying and kissing everyone, even passing a note to a very confused Brandy, in the 24 hrs before she passed away. I even saw an interview with one of her entourage who admittedly mumbled  ‘we weren’t supposed to let her have baths because of this reason.’ Well then, what the hell. Back in uni, I got very drunk, and ended up being sick on myself (it’s actually a hilarious story I promise) anyway – I decided I wanted a shower so I went in the bathroom , locked the door and started running a shower but the pressure was crap, and even as off my tits as I was, I wanted a proper rinse so I ran a bath. My friend was downstairs getting a snack. It was about 3am in the morning. The next thing I know. My friend has burst the door open and I wake up – having just fallen asleep in the bath. She was really angry. ‘What the hell are you doing? You could drown.’ She dragged me naked out of the bath and put me to bed. I probably would have drowned in all honesty. But someone was looking out for me. And that was just tequilas. Everyone around Whitney, they knew she was on coke. They knew she was struggling, vulnerable, emotionally ravaged. Instead of leeching off her, it would have been nice if someone could have actually cared about the person, not just living in the orbit of the ‘star.’   I Just find it really irresponsible/ careless and it really bothers me.

I also hadn’t realised she had had a few miscarriages, one famously whilst shooting The Bodyguard. How sad for her. It’s even more tragic that her daughter Bobbi Kristina followed the same suit.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but I plan to. Any excuse to hear that voice and absorb the magic, that only Whitney Houston has. I use the present tense, because her music goes on, in more ways than one <3

‘Whitney’ is showing at selected cinemas now.

‘The Bodyguard’ is showing on Amazon Prime.

Interviews with Diane Sawyer and Oprah, on Youtube.

 

 

 

 

A review of Ocean’s 8; Disappointed

oceans 3

Now I am not trying to throw shade; first and foremost I love that this movie is starring a mammoth collection of talented female actors.  Everyone knows that Sandra Bullock is one of my fave actresses ever, and I could probably watch her just having breakfast in the morning in her house, such is her gravitas (might be a bit creepy though) But boy, did Gary Ross waste her gold.

I’m not saying that this film was shit. It was watchable.  It was fluff – but the overwhelming feeling I had after leaving the cinema was disappointment.

 

A few reasons made this film sub par:

 

  • It was slow. Too much exposition in the beginning and lots of shots of Sandra and Cate eating in cafes giving each other knowing looks. We didn’t need that much explaining; this film isn’t inception.

 

  • There was a distinct lack of chemistry between the characters. I didn’t believe Cate Blanchett as her best friend. Like, at all. It was all cliché one liners and way way too much eye liner on Blanchett, who, walking around in expensive leather jackets and boots, we are supposed to believe needs to cut down the pennies by cutting her water with vodka. I have a confession though, I am not really a fan of Cate. She is what I call, a functional actress © LaylaM. That’s right, I have coined this term. Let me explain what I mean by this. Cate gets us from A – B, she can convey the emotions of a character, but somehow I am always aware she is acting, and I never feel anything afterwards with her performances. Something which I think is so important in film making. I want to *feel* something. Whether that is joy, hilarity, sadness, anger, confusion even etc. Sandra on the other hand, made me cry in the Proposal, and that film was a comedy. (She made me laugh too.)

 

  • Lack of characterisation. I mean this always happens in an ensemble cast; you are trying to give everyone equal airtime but because of that, development goes by the wayside. Sandra is working very hard to give us some character depth, and only her and Helena gave us the insight that their characters were more than 1 dimensional. I do appreciate that this is difficult considering the running time and size of cast, but it’s still unfortunate.

 

  • It wasn’t funny!! WHERE was the comedy. They completely wasted Bullock, who as we all know has amazing comedy acting chops. This is down to the writing of course. Big shame tho; think of Sandra in ‘The Heat’ with Melissa McCarthy – that was funny and their chemistry popped. Or the aforementioned ‘The Proposal’ None of the script was giving these women a chance to shine.

 

A few other observations – If I had been Mindy Kaling I would have been disappointed because she has about 3 lines. I mean, what was that about. Rihanna was a complete stereotype with the dreadlocks and the minority ‘attitude’ and smoking weed, this didn’t add anything.

Awkwafina had the potential to be funny, but again wasn’t given the material.

Sarah Paulson, who I normally love, was equally underused but also dare I say, irritating in this? I didn’t really get the point of her character – a soccer mom with kleptomania and a hoarding disorder joins them to.. I have forgotten their roles already.

The stand outs were Helena Bonham carter whose character actually had a bit depth and a good accent to boot and Anne Hathaway – although again I think she could have been so much more wicked and funny. Whoever wrote her character could have made her more of a diva and really gone to town.

I also think I am totally immune to what everyone sees in James Corden. His cameo was so pointless, he leaves me cold. The jammy bastard – he’s managed to infiltrate America and my theory is audiences there don’t know how crap he is because the accent throws them off. It’s like a cloak of invisibility.

This sounds like a scathing review but I think maybe I hold these women to a higher standard because I expect more and I expected more from the film as a whole. They are all good actors though and I feel the lack was in the script, which is so often the way.

Imagine if someone like Nora Ephron had written this – what a master class she was in screenplay writing.

Sandra, I still love you.

My rating: 3/5

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.

 

 

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.

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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

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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

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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.

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