Random thoughts about things not to do with faith. Like boys. And poo. And dancing when you’re drunk. My story is here.
Andy flew back to Munich early Sunday morning after a three day visit, leaving me with a week of packing up my life here in Spain before flying out to London Friday morning. A goodbye dinner with some friends is scheduled in for Thursday night but bar that, nothing. Malaga is one of those cities where most people come for just 6-12 months. As a local for nearly 10 now it means I’ve been through an entire cycle of making new friends and saying goodbye to them and with leaving soon I can’t be bothered to make any more. The remaining crew have actual jobs and I have a lot to do before I leave. I’ll use the time of being alone, in my house, with my work, until Thursday night to be super productive.
I head to my favourite cafe where I sit all day. They don’t mind, they know me. People buzzing around is nice but the house is cold and quiet when I get back. I grab my second pizza of the year because the fridge is empty and curl up on the couch. It’s been a long time since I watched an episode of Californication…
Californication is seriously such a good show. I watch it while ‘eating lunch’ and then again after making a big dinner. I’ve emailed a couple of people today, done some serious work on an event I’m managing and now, maybe, will head to bed to do some reading…
I say all this to myself. Out loud. In the kitchen as I dump saucepans and plates into the sink. Before looking around my empty apartment to see if anyone heard me.
I am so fucking sick of inspiration.
Here is a list of things that have had all the inspiration they once contained mined out of them:
– Thomas Edison and his 5 million attempts at the light bulb,
– Einstein’s theories on 1% knowledge, 99% perspiration. Or maybe Newton said this. Some scientist with a huge brain anyway, doesn’t really matter who right?
– Hellen Keller feeling things with her heart
– Audrey Hepburn’s advice on how to be beautiful inside and out (why couldn’t she just write, ‘Be flukily BORN that way bitch.’ and be done with it?)
– Michael Jordan forgetting how many basketball shots he’s missed in his lifetime
– George Eliot’s thought that it’s never too late to be what you might have been. Some ideas on things it’s too late to be already: Gold medallist triathlete. Ballerina. Youngest person to ever cross the atlantic on a yacht. Just off the top of my head.
– How to be innovative like Steve Jobs
– Robert Frost’s road less travelled. There are a HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE on the road less travelled right now and they’ve all started a blog / webinar / speaking tour to help more people travel the road less travelled with them. The road less travelled is now, officially, travelled.
– COMPLETELY UNHELPFUL LESS-THAN-10 WORD STATEMENTS ON PRETTY BACKGROUNDS:
When I was a Pastor in a pentacostal church
The time has come to admit to myself that after four gin and tonics and a couple of tequila shots I am not actually the next Beyonce gracing the dance floor. This reality was driven home to me recently when I was sent a video of myself dancing with some friends on a boat party. At first, I was all like, ‘Who’s that annoying girl flicking her hair around and thinking she’s an awesome dancer?’ Then I was all like, ‘I want to die and be reincarnated as a caterpillar.’
It cuts deep, really, but there it is.
Unfortunately, knowing this reality sober and acting on it after a *few* rounds of shots are two different things. What I need are clear boundaries that even vodka-addled brain synapses can process.
Therefore, here are four dance moves I have officially banned from my dance lexicon. This should wipe out at least 50% of the idiot things I do when the ‘you’re-not-as-awesome-as-you-think-you-are filter’ is clogged with Peach Schnapps. I think I’ll keep the other 50%. I have to have something to cut back on in my 30’s.
1. Cross-knee Legged Thingy
Was it Patrick Swayze who did this first? I feel like it was him or the guy who came up with the Staying Alive move. Either way, I’m not sure exactly why I practiced it for hours as a teenager in front of the bedroom mirror. It’s like it had some sort of magic trick property to it, the way the hands swapped from the knees almost without doing anything. It could have been cool, but its a decade too late.
2. Booty Shaking
I have actually had a friend of mine, a black friend of mine no less (it’s okay to be racist when you mean it as a compliment), marvel at the fact that I can shake my booty. Especially when I’m wearing this little white skirt I bought in Greece with the three layers of frill on it. It practically dances itself.
I think the problem is that no-one shakes their booty anymore. Or that I have white skin. Possibly a combination of both.
3.Backwards Bending Shimmies
I can bend backwards. In 6 inch pump heels. It’s something I think people might like to see combined with a shimmy. I don’t know why I think this.
4. Irish Jigs
Don’t act like you’re surprised this is in my dance lexicon.
As if you’ve never heard a song on a packed dance floor in a beach club along the Costa del Sol that sounds ever so slightly like something from Lord Of The Dance and been possessed by Michael Flatly and whatever that red head girls name was. Did you manage a scissor-kick finale in wedge heeeeeels???
Am very much hoping there’s someone else out there who also needs to join the Dance Move Detox…?Read More
Could you answer the question “Who Are You?” please. In three sentences, if you don’t mind!?Read More
It’s time I returned the favour and wrote a blog about my new flatmate Dave.Read More
“If you don’t write the book you have to write, everything breaks.” -A.M. Homes
I have to, I guess then.
If it’s written non-emotionally it won’t resonate with anyone. I can see, just glancing over the catastrophe of words and paragraphs cobbled together on my laptop that the most powerful sentences are those I’ve copied directly from the online diary I kept at the time.
So I need to go back there.
Relive the dusky evening reality shifted and the possibility I’d got it wrong wormed it’s way into my fundamentalist brain.
Access again the consuming wave of grief that morning in the car nearly two years later when God finally died.
Feel afresh the moment I realised that if you don’t make a choice between the man you love and the person you are, he will make it for you.
And so I begin the walk towards what I run from the most.
Think I’m going to need another glass of whisky.
‘How long have you been travelling?’ he asks.
‘Oh about 8 years all up now.’ replies Dave with his characteristic slight wave of the hand holding a beer.
There’s a pause. ‘Have you ever thought about living a decent life?’ Corporate yells over the din of the crowded bar.
‘Decent?’ checks Dave. ‘Decent?’ checks I. A nod and a blink.
A look passes between us both. It had been a 2-way conversation with me the awkward sort of glue, being responsible as I was for introducing two men I didn’t realize at the time are polar opposites of each other. It was a nice sort of discussion to this point.
But now it’s war. Dave and I against the Turtle.
‘A decent life?’ Dave begins… ‘With a house, and a car, possibly a wife. A job and a boss?’
‘Working 8 to 6.’ I offer. ‘Maybe a corner office in a decade.’
‘Incremental wage increases. 4 weeks of holiday a year.’
Enthusiastic nods from the bar.
‘Like the life 97% of the rest of the world live?’ concludes Dave. ‘Yeah… no.’
This is Dave’s world, the conversations about what is normal and what is not. 24 year-old Baldy has no chance, you can’t argue about convention until you’ve lived outside of it.
‘You make compromises either way,’ shrugs Dave, ‘I had your life in a way, the house, a job, a cat….’
‘I hate cats,’
‘Perhaps a dog then. Or a snake…’ Dave proposes how long – or short – the snake might be, with his hands. ‘And now I live without all that, which means I compromise on a solid base, a familiar social circle, I don’t know where money comes from next.
But I wouldn’t change it, because if I have the house and the job and the snake I compromise on freedom, on the time I need to make the most of life, on the ability to accept all opportunities when they come along. I choose the most important things for me, if I lived your life it wouldn’t be decent… What do you think?’
He opens his mouth but no sounds come out. We wait.
It comes eventually, as does wet concrete through a straw. Sparky explains how wonderfully free his job is because as long as he meets his sales targets They don’t care what he does.
“So…” I summarise, “As long you do what someone else tell you to do, they don’t give a shit about you?”
More enthusiastic nods.
And I’m only halfway through the white wine he bought me just a few minutes before. I was once told to be bought a drink is His opportunity for a conversation. The longer you take to drink it, the longer the conversation.
Better hop to it.
Now he’s tallying up his travels and wild adventures. In bars with women and a corporate credit card.
‘And have you ever tested yourself?’ nudges Dave, clearly referring to the act of pushing your personal limits.
‘Yes and I’m totally clean.’ This declaration is made pointedly at me. I snort on a mouthful of Sauvignon and then have to drop my head to my lap, hiding my face with my hair as he continues. ‘I tested myself just two months ago. I don’t have HIV or anything…’
Dave’s doing a much better job of controlling himself. I catch his eye through my tears of laughter as he agrees I’m probably very happy about that.
Just, honestly, can’t drink this glass of wine fast enough.Read More
Am currently filtering through my private online blog retrieving thoughts from the past four years and came across this… pretty sure I’m onto a new psychological phenomenon here.
Anyone else’s ideal person based on the first cartoon you ever watched?
– – – –
Saturday, December 24, 2011
There’s nothing like karaoke singing to “A Whole New World” with your 7 year old niece to bring some life clarity. The particular revelation this morning is that I am in love with Aladdin.
I’m stalking a Mac Store. In the rain.
The train to Zurich leaves at 2:30pm today and I’m hoping, practically praying, my early rising and piety will impress the gods. Anxiously, I stare up the wall of glass to the looming, illuminated white half-bitten apple logo as if it were the cross – a symbol of my salvation.
Surely, they can raise my Notes from the dead. If anyone can, the red shirted demi-gods contained within can help me. Their elixirs will sooth my iPhone’s refusal to rise after its third waterboarding in a toilet bowl, even just for a moment so I can synchronise and save my data from eternity in oblivion.
Apparently my last ‘automatic update’ to iCloud was in October and somehow only managed to capture about 50% of it. An impressive error for a software which, in my civilian ignorance I assume by its very nature only does what it’s told. In this case, ‘back up my most important data’. This apparently doesn’t include the past 3 months work on a book aka: irreplaceable inspiration.
The pre-day huddle of red shirted Smurfs inside breaks and I dash across the square. The gods are pleased! 7am alarm clock WORTH IT! A bearded elf escorts me to the Genius Bar where no less than 5 geniuses are customer-less. Inglorious riches! Like discovering $20 in the pocket of your winter jacket.
Mid-fantasy of all the things I could get 5 geniuses to do with my Mac products at once I’m introduced to “Oli”; the iPhone specialist. My ailing phone is laid at his feet and faith fills my eyes. I’m like the Commander Soldier before Jesus. Just say the word Oli and my phone will be healed. I believe in you. I get a wary look before it is whisked off behind the Curtain of Oz.
In his biography, Steve Jobs’ is quoted as saying “But you can’t call them Geniuses!” on the suggestion of using the term ‘Genius Bar’ for the repair area. “They’re geeks!” Watching the rotund belly of the other genius two metres away move up and down with his explanation of something i-phoney to the middle-aged lady on the other side of the counter, I’m suddenly overwhelmed with a gratefulness for geeks.
Call them geniuses, wizards, even priests, whatever you want, I don’t care. Geeks are surely more socially-useful than priests these days. Let them put a Mc before their name, like a Doctor, and wear a gold ring with apples on it. I’ll kiss it. Just get me my Notes back.
Third party repairers quoted a week, another one three days and finally one took just 2 hours to take a look at my phone and find out whether it was redeemable. Oli, in his wonderfully geeky Appley way, takes 5 minutes.
It’s dead. In the un-raisable sort of way.
Oli thinks it’ll be more than a 1000 euro to recover the data but first we’ll check if my Airbook just happened to back up to itself, rather than the iCloud. I’m given a new iPhone for 150 euro (wha-at? yes!) and spend a nervous 5 minutes watching an apparent synchronisation from the 12th December take place.
And there, there at the bottom of a notes titled ‘Book’ is my most recent burst of inspiration.
Apple, I am yours. I will never cheat on you. I will never have an affair on you with other platforms or hardware. I will never wait 3 days for an external Supplier to refer me to a specialist who has no record of the fact I bought the phone in Australia and attempts to charge me for his time. I am a devoted follower of you Mac. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
– – –
Although a niggling, worrying thought stays with me on the train ride home. Is the failure of iCloud to Actually Do What It Says the first crack in the demise of a company now Founderless? Does whats-his-name-who-took-over-from-Steve have the balls to ask “What’s it supposed to do?” and on receiving the answer respond “And why the fuck doesn’t it do that?” after which promptly firing the Team Leader like he did for MobileMe? Can he cut through the bullshit to continue to maintain 10 minute service times and 5 second load ups?? Is this ship’s Captain at the wheel or DRUNK IN CABIN!?!
Maybe he needs me to send him an email and let him know how close I nearly came to my old Microsoft experiences.
In February this year, sitting across from my ex at a long wooden table in the outside part of a pub in Bayview, Melbourne, I signed divorce papers. I was 26 years old.
Four weeks later in March, I put my 5-year-old business up for sale and sold it to a stay at a home mum in Port Macquarie. At the end of April I submitted my resignation for my part time job in Communications at Melbourne Water. The next month, along with my two (gorgeous, I miss you gals!) flatmates, I found someone to take over the lease for my bedroom in our apartment in Hawthorn. In June, I registered for non-attendance at my Bachelor of Commerce graduation ceremony and got totally screwed over by WeBuyAnyCar.com.au cos no-one wants to buy 6 year old Peugeots. I also wrote a letter to the “Fines and Penalties Section” of the Department of Justice to explain that I was unable to attend Court to defend the $350 worth of fines I owed from allegedly not paying two $2.50 tolls on the M1 because 9 months ago I bought a one way ticket to Europe and in two weeks I just wouldn’t be around anymore. There may or may not be a Sheriff waiting for me at the airport when I eventually go home…
I left Australia four months ago owning a backpack of clothes, four boxes of books and memorabilia stored in the garage of my sisters place (including my 6 inch high heels; we’ve been together every Friday night for the past 18 months, how could I possibly just throw them away??) and a queen sized bed a friend let me set up in their holiday house. If you’ve ever had to buy a good bed on the cheap you’ll understand why I did this. I had a best friend, a British Citizenship, a 3 month Eurail pass and no idea what I was going to do, where I would go or who I would be with when it ran out.
It was The Dream Come True.
When do we ever get a chance to step back and look at life as a huge, blank canvas, waiting for us to paint whatever we want onto it? I’m just about the luckiest girl in the world to have had the opportunity to do this and now, here I am four months later in Bogota, Columbia, wrapped in a 9 year olds’ blue Kung-Fu Panda blanket on the couch of a local family, wide awake at 6am reflecting on the experience. I’ve been avoiding it, I realize. The initial plan was to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain for a week as a pilgrim, with plenty of time for reading, writing and reflection before heading to South America. Instead I went to Oktoberfest. I did learn how to drink beer without vomiting but it’s hardly a well-rounded ending to what was a life-defining trip.
So, in all the partying, trekking, photo-ing, meeting, laughing, crying, wondering and wandering moments of the past 13 weeks, who am I now? What do I know that I didn’t before? I’m finding this so difficult to write. It’s as though a part of me thinks writing these things down will make them disappear. After a period of having every truth and perception you hold about life turned on it’s head, stomped on and burnt up in flames, discovering beliefs you can hold onto as markers to navigate this world is as magical a thing for me as a butterfly landing on my shoulder. I have wonderful moments just noticing in myself a new sense of security, a desire to learn, a calm in unusual situations, a gratefulness and hopefully also gracefulness – glimmers of slowly flapping butterfly wings from the corner of my eye. If I take a swipe in the hope of catching them, will they fly away?
Only one way to find out, I guess. Here is what I have decided about life…
I Will Chase What I Want In Life Rather Than Security or Status
Ever since discovering, at the age of 23, the job ‘Change Manager’ even existed I’ve had a bit of an ache in my heart that I didn’t do the whole corporate world “Management Consultant with McKinsey” path. I firmly believe that if you want something, you can get it (well, maybe not McKinsey but at least Accenture?) and was staring down the barrel of what would be another 2 years of study, 3 years internships and a lot of arse-kissing just to get to a basic role in one of those companies by the time I was 32. And all women know what that age means. Depressing. But the thought would not leave me alone! It’s like something inside me believed that a role like that was proof of my worth; intelligence, superiority, a right to respect from other people. “Oh I’m a management consultant, I just got back from Hong Kong and heading off to New York next week.” Even just writing this, I’m not gonna lie, I still want it.
Alain de Botton’s book Status Anxiety is by far the best antidote to this general plague of ambition for things that won’t actually make us happy. It wasn’t until I read a book called The Pin Striped Prison on the plane from Melbourne to Dubai though, that I asked myself the specific questions: Do I really want to spend 12 hours a day in an office working on power point presentations about the fluctuations of the wheat market in India? Do I really want to write reports on what changes need to be made in a company rather than actually working to make them myself? But most of all do I really want to work in a large office where someone is expecting me at my desk from 8am – 6pm, regardless of whether I have work to do, a medical appointment or a burning desire to jump off a cliff with a parachute attached to my back?
The answer is no. No, no, no.
To get around this dilemma of ‘what path to take in life’ I asked myself the question; if you knew you were going to miserably fail at it, what would you do anyway?
This question separated for me, my ‘wants’ from ‘passions’. Of course I want to work for a famous company, walk into organizations as the Expert and take home a big steady paycheck. But if I worked for years at a desk over minute details in worthless power point presentations and I didn’t succeed, I would consider all that time to be a waste. My passion on the other hand… my passion is creating. It is forging new paths where others won’t go. It is negotiating the fine dance of relationships to foster synergy a team can throw at a challenge and succeed at. It is waking every day, not because there’s no way a boss will believe my tram was inexplicably late again, but because I am excited to be on the edge of something new and in complete control of my own agenda. Even if I never successfully build a company or publish a bestseller, I’d have enjoyed the ride and could proudly pat myself on the back for giving it go.
This means I’ll never get to say I’m a Management Consultant. And probably for a good part of the next 5 years will be just off broke. It’ll be fine though because then I’ll marry a rich Accountant, move to the suburbs and have babies. Nah, I’m kidding! A Hedge Fund Manager, at least… 😉
And so… I’m going to throw myself at doing what I really want to do; which is write a book and found a million dollar turnover business. Both those thoughts scare me so much I want to crawl under this blanket and use jet lag as an excuse to watch the Billy Madison movie for the fifth time.
Wondering and Wandering Part 2: coming soon.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Like this blog post?
See new ones in your newsfeed by Liking MsClair on FacebookRead More