Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tonight I Was In The Same Room

As Mick Jones and Paul Simonon. I'm generally very disdainful of famous people, but these two are exceptions because The Clash were the greatest band ever; even greater than Zeppelin ( I love Guns Of Brixton even though I freely admit that, musically, it ain't no Stairway To Heaven). Joe Strummer is one of my all time heroes for many reasons, the least of which is that he just said what he thought, even if it was ridiculous.

I have a tendency to argue about things I don't know much about based on my gut feeling. I know it's stupid, and it can end in me eating my words, or feeling very embarrassed later. Nevertheless, I have a lot of fun, and I feel like that's what Joe Strummer was like too; that he went with how he felt and wasn't afraid to be wrong.

My favourite people fight for a world that will be better for people who have it hard in the one we live in. I think that's the kind of person Joe Strummer was, and it's the kind of person I want to be. The world's a poorer place without you, Joe.

Monday, December 20, 2010

When The Lights Are Turned Off

Is when I seem to have the most to say. I grew up sharing a room with my sister, and we used to lie awake and she would test me on my spelling and general knowledge like capitals of countries, and we would talk as long and as quietly as we could until someone (probably I) fell asleep. Now I share a room with Vincent and I still start chattering when it's bedtime; all of a sudden I remember all the things I forgot to tell him while the lights were on, and all of the questions I wanted to ask him but didn't, and it's very hard to stop although I eventually have to when the tenth "One more thing?" is met with a pause and then a really drowsy "Mmm". Vincent is very, very patient, and if I loved him just a bit less, he might never get to sleep, ever.

I used to be very afraid of the dark, and I wonder if hearing my sister's voice helped me feel less so. I have always felt like darkness inspires confidences though; I enjoy the sun but I could never love it the way I love the moon, and I don't know if I would ever have wanted to fall in love during the day. When I was going through a very bad patch a few years ago I would lie awake and cry very quietly while a line from my favourite song played over and over in my head; I knew during the day I was unhappy, but it wasn't until night that I felt like it was too much. In Fiesta, Hemingway writes 'It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing'. I think it's partly because at night there are no distractions; with the darkness, everything fades away and all that's left is you; you and your thoughts.

Being left alone in the dark with my thoughts is still sometimes a very bad thing. The feeling of aloneness from being the only one awake can make you imagine you really are alone; I wonder if it's pre-empting dreams when you want to cry for help but no-one hears you. I know when I lie awake that if I called out, Vincent would immediately wake up, but sleep seems such a separation.

Sometimes though, being alone with my thoughts at night is a very good thing. I often think I'm the luckiest girl in the world but when I'm in bed and I hear Vincent breathing, I really feel like nothing can be that bad as long as the day ends like this, and that whatever happens tomorrow, it can't be so terrible. On the other hand, occasionally it makes me feel like I'm not doing anything of consequence to help people for whom tomorrow will be so terrible, and then I start to feel very sad and guilty, especially when it's children I'm thinking of, like the "night commuters" in Uganda.

It seems very frivolous to write this after mentioning the night commuters, but it's what I sometimes think at night, and in the rational light of day (although it's actually nearly half past midnight; ironically writing about talking to Vincent at night meant he got straight to sleep because I'm in another room) I can just appreciate that, for better or worse, life for me is so that I think things like this (although I'd really like to not be a crazy person). The first time I thought it I must have been reading Dorothy Parker because of the style, although I'm pretty certain she would take me apart if she came back from the bar in the sky and read it. This is what I sometimes think when I lie awake in bed: When you lie awake in bed with his lips resting open on your ear, his breathing even in his sleep, your arms enclosed in his arms, body nestled into his... and you think of him, like this, with every other girl with whom he ever shared a bed; you know, in your insanity, your life is not your own.

In case I have you running for a basin, here is an antidote. You could be a little nice about it though; we're obviously having a confidential little night-time talk.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today I am very tired after another night of heat-disturbed sleep. When I woke up this morning, I looked like me but I felt like this:

This is Katie Ka-boom from Animaniacs. Sometimes I wish I could just go KABOOM and have it over with.

Tiredness means I have neither the energy nor the inclination to be nice or write interesting things, so I am just going to write a list or two. I am a list-writer from way back. Writing lists mean I can stop worrying about things and do something about them; sometimes just writing things down is close enough to doing them and I can happily drift off to sleep. The first time I read My Year Of Meat by Ruth L. Ozeki, I got stuck into writing these contrived lists to try to be like Shonagon. Fortunately I've stopped doing this and have developed a possibly just-as-annoying appreciation of the ephemeral list, which means my handbag looks like an amateur version of the newspaper-filled shopping trolley I'll probably be pushing in a few years time. My sister once said I'm the most well-documented non-celebrity because of all the receipts and paper scraps I keep. It definitely isn't always a good thing; some of my old lists are cringe-worthy reminders of what I used to enjoy doing or probably hoped someone would see I'd done, and some simply embarrassing because I actually had to write down a reminder to change my sheets, but I suppose in a way it makes things like that seem more important, the way that a soundtrack makes an everyday thing in a movie seem interesting and meaningful. I wonder if I'm sub-consciously trying to leave a trail to remember me by because I'm not doing anything particularly worthwhile... and now I wish I hadn't thought of that. I really love finding old grocery lists Vincent has left around the place, and they're not lists but I always hang onto little notes people have left me on scraps of paper. When I was at school, from primary right through to secondary, when my Mum would make my lunch she would put in a serviette that would have a little note on it telling me she loves me and that she hoped I was having a nice day. I was always loathe to throw them away, but when they were smeared with honey or covered in orange-pith, I couldn't really keep them.

So here are two lists, one new one and one old one.

List One -Things I meant to do this year but didn't:

Write to Gloria, my sponsored child
Send my absent best friends birthday presents
Do something that will actually make a difference in the world
Read [insert title of about fifty books here]
Get drum lessons
Make everyone's Christmas presents (admitting early defeat; it seems more organised to do so)

There are more but I think I'd rather end that list for now.

List Two - Happy Things To Chance Upon On A Fine Thursday Afternoon:

the book that the person you love most in the whole world has been looking for (and for half-price)
a nice young man asking for coins when you happen to have some
a nice old man swinging on the monkey-rings in the park, no grandchildren in sight, while his nice old wife looks on and laughs
a well-wrapped, fat-cheeked little girl telling her Mother about her day at kindy (also at the park)
the street that leads to the pub where you will be with your beloved sister this time tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If I didn't look like me...

I think I should like to look like this:

In case you don't know her, this is Emily Meade, and she played Pearl, the prettiest prostitute, in Boardwalk Empire, which isn't the greatest show and really needed someone like her to make you want to watch (besides which, hers was one of the nicer characters). I like her face because it's mirthful, a bit cynical, and has dimples, which I have wanted all my life. She looks like she might think interesting things and drink tequila until she fell over and stick up for people getting a hard time. Or not. Anyway, my resting expression makes me look a little bit confused, and I have a habit of pouting which I can't seem to train myself out of. But then who wants to spend all their time thinking about how they look to other people? I have to say though, I think I'd worry less if I were Emily Meade.

Last night we watched another Christmas movie which I have since decided must be struck from the list. The movie is The Family Stone, and to save you watching it or looking it up, it's about a bunch of arseholes who are awful to their absolute cunt of a son's uptight girlfriend. Next on the list is visiting the Wishing Tree and trying Santa again; we went last week but when I hung up the phone the lights didn't work, and they're supposed to indicate your call has made it to the North Pole. In case Santa doesn't get the message, these are some of the things I asked for, just if you're wondering:

(But not The Portable Nietzsche; I already have that.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

After Christmas

I really want to see this:

I try to fight the part of me that likes Sofia Coppola because the kind of girl who likes her films irritates me; she always has tidy hair and doesn't say the wrong thing (but I make out I'm bored by her to my allies, and tell myself that messy hair is endearing). I don't have much success though; I like all of Sofia's movies, and I generally like her soundtracks too. Maybe I am jealous because she is very talented and good friends with Marc Jacobs and got to be in the Godfather Part I (Part III she can keep.) Anyhow, I think I'm going to like this one too.

Other than that and my summer holiday, I'm not thinking too much about After Christmas because I'm enjoying Before Christmas very much. Every year I make my way (part-way) through a rather long list of Christmas movies, books, and activities; this year so far I have read half of A Christmas Carol, and watched Meet Me In St Louis, While You Were Sleeping, and It's A Wonderful Life (during which I cried so much I thought I'd never pee again). I'm not doing quite as well on my activity list, but it seems the mere whiff of Christmas is quite exhausting (plus the exertion of crying buckets), and Vincent has made/invented a festive treat called Whiskey Balls which makes me feel better about that, especially when I eat them, which I do greedily and often.