Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mrs Clark.

Tonight I'm pouring glass after glass of delicious sauvignon blanc, making boxes upon boxes of perfect popcorn and steaming up my forehead making average lattes and wannabe cappuccinos. I'm up-selling like crazy, getting overexcited at new faces and suggesting endless extras until I'm met with utter spent bewilderment. Today, I'm cherishing every minute of my short 'n' sweet shift. After a double-shift day yesterday, every hour is flying by tonight. My favourites are all in, and nothing's slowing the flow.

Enter my lady; with perfectly pressed hair and dressed in the softest scarlet coat that instantly makes me think of sleigh bells. I take her in, assessing slowly, appreciating her kindly face and her bejeweled fingers.
'Are you a member with us, at all? Would you like to be one, perhaps?'

'Oh, I would actually - do I fill out something here?'
In a flash I pass her a form; she's filling it out with fancy lettering, all caps with Greek E's. I ask if there's anyone she'd like to share her membership with, another name to add to the form, someone to share the perks with - 'a partner, perhaps?'
Her head down, eyes focused, pen scribbling away; 'Well my husband's dying of cancer, so I don't expect he'll be coming to the cinema very much longer...'
I freeze. She's so flippant, so un-frazzled. I raise a hand to my mouth. 'I'm so, so sorry, madam...'
'Oh no, it's quite fine... My cousin! She'd love to share this with me! I shall put her name...'

And a few minutes later she's gone, leaving behind her fancy penmanship and rosy air. She can't have been more than fifty. Mrs Clark, husband dying. Miss Clark. How awful. Maybe she has children. They'd be grown by now. Grandchildren? Possibly. Oh, my.
Why do bad things have to happen? Why must someone like Mrs Clark be faced with this in what should be her golden, happier years? The peaceful winter of her life is now peppered with rain clouds, and St Jude is bearing down.
I wonder how long she's known, how long she's been living with this black poisonous sucking creature in her life, killing the man she loves and destroying their lives together in one fell swoop. It must have been a while by now, since she's so casual and mentioning it to young barmaids she's just met. Is casual the word? No. There was something behind her eyes. Strength. Resilience. Fight. She won't be alone, not ever. She has enough to keep her going. Now, she's making the most of what she has.
Mrs Clark will be fine.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

ECP (update).

I'm combining fictional narrative writing, with... Wait for it... Blogging. Like, setting up a blog and teaming it with the novel. Half-prose, half-blog. Just imagine my excitement. Multiply that by a thousand.
You're still nowhere near.

Friday, 18 October 2013

My Pogo/life as 'the dumb one'.

N. AMER.informal
silly or scatterbrained.
"don't tell me my ditzy secretary didn't send you an invitation!"

A while ago, my housemates and I all sat around and talked about our 'pogos'. 'Pogo' here being a clever concept coined by my beloved Winston Bishop, and yet another thing in my life that is brought in from a TV programme. The characters in 'New Girl' all have these irritating physical or personality traits that their friends discuss behind their back; Schmidt has ridiculously long toenails, Jess is a know-it-all, Nick needs to be mothered every now and again... The kind of things only very close friends or flatmates would know about one another.
The obvious pogos were mentioned, e.g. someone enforces the cleaning rota, someone has trouble sugar-coating things, someone is difficult about doing washing up... Obvious, and harmless. I tentatively asked what mine was, hoping it would be something small and easily fixable, such as my noisy typing or playing music before I fall asleep. Alas, mine was something I cannot change, and somehow was what I did not expect, and yet most feared: I'm ditzy. 

Within my group of friends - well, within the many groups I have been in, or on the very edge of, throughout my life - I've always been in serious danger of being labelled 'the dumb one'. Everyone else gets to be the hero or the leading lady, or the sarky and hilarious best-friend characters at the very least.
Then there's me. Karen Smith from Mean Girls, asking people why they're white, feeling her own breasts and sticking diamante gems in a backwards K shape across her chest before a night out. Even when I was brunette, I was the blonde. 

I really don't understand why; I'm intelligent, coherent, and perceptive to the point of freakishness. I get well above average grades, I read hefty classic novels, I have a fantastic concept of time, I'm positively brimming with common sense (although I am somewhat selective about when I use it)... My memory is outstanding. I can form articulate arguments on the spot. My quick wit and improvisational skills have saved my hide plenty of times. I know things long before I'm told them.
So why am I made to feel this way? By my best friends, too? 

At last year's annual Fly Hard awards, I was given the prestigious honour of 'Hottest Player'. Which, don't get me wrong, is lovely, but... I would have preferred something more substantial, such as 'Most Improved Female' or 'Most Enthusiastic Player', rather than just an award that said 'well done, you look good while playing.' It somehow reinforced my 'just a pretty face' complex. And I don't even think I'm that pretty. So how does that work?

I'll admit, I do have a few unfortunate moments now and again. I often walk into door frames because I misjudge my distance or their width, I remember to grab something from my bedroom as everyone's walking out the front door, I trail off mid-sentence because something distracts me...
Also, I may make some pretty stupid decisions now and again, but that doesn't make me a stupid person. A one night stand with the boy who broke my heart, making grilled cheese sandwiches at 11:30pm, smoking while having a chest infection, wearing a clean white bedsheet as a dress on a night out - these are just some of my greatest hits. However, stupid though they may be, there is always a valid reason - whether it be fantastic easy orgasms, delicious late-night calories, an excuse to use my classy cigarette holder, participating enthusiastically in an 'anything but clothes' themed pre-drinks... Hey, the heart wants what it wants. I shouldn't be classed as 'dumb', because I follow my heart.

Last week, my drama group all took the Myers Briggs personality quizzes. We answered four questions to gauge what category we all fell into. I found most questions fairly easy - are you introverted or extroverted? Do you judge, or perceive? Do you experience, or learn? - except one. The question was "do you make decisions based on a long thought process, or just how you feel?" The significance just about smacked me in the face. Because I will always think everything through as best I can, evaluate as much as possible, be practical and scientific - but I will always make my final decision based on how I feel, and how it will affect others. Heart beats head every time. Maybe that's what makes me 'the dumb one'. Maybe not.
Whatever the reason, I want to shake this label. I can deal with being 'the shit one' in a drama group, I can make do with being stuck as a second team Ultimate player, I'll settle for being the fourth prettiest housemate. But I'd rather not be the ditzy one any more. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ultimate excitement.

I have an Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Brighton this weekend. Brighton, a city just a 45-minute drive (or 25, if you drive like I do) away from my hometown. As I'm not going home for a while yet, I thought I'd ask my family if they wanted to come along and see me in Brighton... Y'know, just so we can catch up and it's not too far for them to drive...

Okay, so the real reason is that I want my parents to stand there and watch me compete, with some of my favourite people, at a sport I absolutely adore. I want them to see me running and throwing and playing some awesome D, and be proud that their daughter who once got them to write notes to her teachers so she could get out of PE lessons is actually actively pursuing a sport, playing on a team for the first time ever and totally loving every shouting, sweaty moment. I want nothing more than my sister to cheer for me, my mum to be impressed when I stall someone out, my dad to work out the logistics of the game as he watches. Ever since my grandparents expressed interest in coming along, I've been determined to make them smile - maybe even laugh, which is something God only knows they need these days - when they see me running up the pitch in my bright purple shorts. I want my sister to meet the entire women's team, I want my mum to tell me how much she hates the team captain, I want my dad to ask who's who - or even guess, based on the stories I've told them all... I want my family to see me doing something I love, and I want to play to the best of my ability so I can make them proud.
Bring it, Brighton.


How is it only eight? It could be eleven,
The night time brings with it the words.
a Drunken fool and that same Smooth talker,
separated by miles, stretched into hours.

Cupcake and coffee, code words in my little city,
Flat whites and sugary rewards.
Scrambled and toasted, pot and kettle,
New names and years long forgotten.

Who would have thought, who could have known,
waking up hearing 'lovely' all this time.
Spark up the Clipper, bring it to life,
happy yet cautious once again.

Here I am, making all these plans,
when will I ever learn?
A way with words, a kind heart to match,
it's never worked wonders before.

Uttering the worst words, venom on my lips,
hoping he can't see beneath them.
Rehearsing my anger, suppressing my hurt,
and maybe a glimmer of what's more.

Friday, 4 October 2013

I, like, like this.

I turn to my sister and very subtly indicate my phone. "He liked my photo," I whisper, hardly able to contain my joy. She nods, smiles, acknowledges the importance and gravity of the liking. She gets it. Then, from the next room, I hear my mother shout: "it doesn't mean anything, honey!"

As dumb and immature as it sounds, likes mean something to me. I'm well aware that a like only takes a matter of seconds and even the faintest most half-hearted click can become one; it could mean absolutely nothing to them, but it means the world to me. I know people who will deliberately 'like' a certain other person's every post, photo and check-in, simply because they want their name to appear on their home screen and therefore in their mind. Shameless, really, but we all do it every now and again. There is one person whose statuses I never 'like', purely because of an age-old grudge based on him once saying I was an obsessive liker... There's a person whose posts I am cautious about liking, in case he gets the wrong idea. There's another person who I throw a big 'like' at every now and again to remind her that I'm always here for her.
I also notice the people who habitually 'like' my posts, the ones who only occasionally do, and those who definitely don't. It's always the usual suspects, the people I can count on to smile when they see some kind of update from me.
I see the guys who are forever liking this one girl's photos - usually of her getting ready for a night out, dressed to fuck kill, making them stare and absolutely knowing it. In the end, I hid her completely from my homepage. I won't encourage her with my likes. 

I was once told "I don't like a lot of your posts, because I don't want to seem too keen." To which I so wanted to respond: "But they make me smile. Don't you want to make me smile?"

I can always tell when likes are just a cheap ploy, a casual invitation, a nod and a wink.
And I notice when the likes go away. Whether it's loss of interest, change of heart, lack of follow-through - it happens, and I see it. It's a shame, posting something on Facey B, Tumblr or even Insti (especially Insti) and not seeing your favourite liker appear in the corner of the screen. Not getting an email to let you know they favourited your tweet.
I like to think that I'm exempt from the liking politics; that I will always 'like' something, regardless of who posted it. But that's a lie. I have been known to keep scrolling, to physically stop myself, purely because of a silly old grudge. A 'dislike', maybe. Once or twice, I've even not wished someone a Happy Birthday on Facebook because I didn't feel they deserved it.

To reiterate the unfortunate truth, likes mean something to me. They make me smile, they make me sing while washing up, they make me run upstairs and tell my housemates. So bear this in mind when you're hovering, wondering whether to click. 
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