I Want More Life And Other Dilemmas

It’s Friday again and I’m standing at the border between my two lives.

I live a double life of sorts. Monday to Thursday I am a trainee teaching and behaviour support: I am devoted to productivity, eat batch-cooked lunches, try to rise on time and go to sleep early (skipping out on sleep has major consequences), manage my moods by reading stuff online in my lunchbreak. I occasionally attempt some self-reflection – journaling on the Tube or writing the odd poem – but by and large those habits don’t stick; I can’t read books, I have no time and if I tried it on the Tube, I’d spill my tea on them or something. I do my physio, stop by the pool, wolf down a dinner, try to squeeze out maximum efficiency out of my hours, try not to be too stressed, watch a show to wind down and go to sleep.

Then Friday comes.

Friday is my twilight zone. Actually it starts Thursday night. Thursday night I will either go out or attempt to Achieve Something Meaningful, which may mean staying up until 2 am JUST BECAUSE I AM NOT TEACHING NEXT DAY AND I CAN. Friday morning I will go swimming; let the water take my weight, beat my body, create some pleasant lassitude in my muscles. I come home, eat some food, and – this is important – I don’t have to do a goddamn thing.

I do occasionally clean; I write a blogpost; I may cook or go out; but I don’t have to do a goddamn thing.

This guilt-free zone protects my sanity. Saturdays tend to be busy – I’ll go to a gig, be in a gig, sometimes both. Tomorrow there is a march and a birthday party, with a date thrown in the mix. Sunday I’m wrapping up some podcast editing of yore (there’s nothing more horrible than unprocessed old footage or audio!) and of course hosting the quiz. Tonight is the night I get to myself.

And I. Want. More.

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There is a necessity to the way things are in my life right now. Or what feels like necessity. A led to B led to C and I made it all the way to L; is it worth finishing the alphabet? I’ve got a job that is incredibly engaging (god knows many of my previous “support jobs” were very repetitive and dull); I’m good at it and developing within it. A part of me thrives on the speed that I can achieve on Monday through Thursday. Yes, the work made my physical problems escalate, hence the constant physio/swimming/should-I-do-pilates-yoga-or-both convo, but that was a long time coming; at least they higher-ups at work are supportive. It’s nice to have a steady paycheck. And yet. And yet.

I want more life. I want to see friends without trying to convert it into doing artistic work together; I want to have time for both. I want to afford the luxury of messing around with writing, or songwriting, or dancing. I want leisure; I want creativity; I want my first thought not to be about how to turn things into an ambitious project. I want the speed of exciting things, but with maybe slightly less stress that the two hour daily commute and actual risk of injury that my current dayjob provides. I want to stop having to cut off bits of myself to fit within my life. I want to design a life that I can live, not just survive.

I want rehearsal rooms; I want comedy gigs, poetry gigs, music gigs; I want to take songs out of my head that live there, homeless, in-between; I want to take a honest look at that essay book I’ve got knocking about there, that play I already assembled a team for. I am a fountain of creativity and I have no space, choking a little, even though rationally there is only so many hours; rationally a lot of effort right now goes into re-routing my body from its path to further injury, into creating a healthy and sustainable muscle structure. Between that and the work, even though I want to write and create, I simply need to sleep more than I need to write; my body needs to heal, but meanwhile my brain tries to eat itself. The balance isn’t stacked in favour of creativity right now, and it hurts.

I guess there are Fridays. On Fridays I get to take a breath and rest. But the second part, the part when I take another breath and embark on my full creative journey, that’s the one that doesn’t fully happen. I may need to reframe it; I may need to rethink it. “I’m not standing still, I’m just lying in wait….”

I Love Swimming. I Don’t Love March

Quick note in addition to my Wednesday blog: this week has been… a bit not good. Tough, even. I expected myself to Do Stuff to do with my permanent residency – something that I am beginning to accept might not happen, because as I do the research, it turns out that the way I worked, earned and survived might not be good enough for the British taxman. I am still looking into it, but also trying to let it go slowly. I wanted this. Settled status will still be a option, later. We will see.

It is a very strange thing to think of the years I’ve spent in this country – growing up, learning about myself, trying, failing, designing my artistic career – as a retroactive audition for citizenship. I certainly didn’t “perform” my life to earn a passport, I haven’t come over with that in mind. I’m not the most business-minded person, although I am working to change that: that means that when I registered as self-employed, it was to find out whether I could hack it as a performer and get legally paid. It doesn’t mean I had what is considered a “viable business idea” or knew how to realise such an idea. Or earned enough to prove that in retrospect I was The Correct Kind Of Potential Resident.

So many of us. Doing cash-in-hand jobs, floating, trying to be free, trying to survive, trying to be artists, performers, to add beauty to life. In this new world order, we are so vunerable, so unpractical, considered unnecessary and extraneous, of low value. Kafka-esque paperology. Good thing I know that my value doesn’t rest on it.

And today is Friday. So I went swimming. I love swimming. For now it’s enough.

What Is A Treat?

It’s the middle of my working week – which starts Sunday evening and finishes Thursday afternoon – and I am pondering this query: what is a treat?

See, I like a treat. I enjoy treats a lot. I like a bit of chocolate, a frothy cappuccino, a drink. Sometimes I discover I don’t enjoy the taste of some of those things (down with milk chocolate!) as much as I enjoy the very idea of a treat.

To discuss treats, I have to mention what I eat; have to mention specific dietary requirements, so if you don’t like reading about any food restriction, maybe stop at this bit. Continue reading “What Is A Treat?”

Rest Your Weary Bones, It’s Weekend

This week has been a week. I kicked ass at work if I say so myself – I feel more confident and overall better at the job, which is great; I got a haircut, which… suits me pretty well, but is a departure from my usual style and I feel a bit weird about it.

aunt
A “cool aunt” apparently. Is it too early for midlife crisis?

I also got my place into a kind of chaos: I flew to visit my Mum previous weekend, so there was no cleaning done – between the job and two quizes, I’m just happy I got away without a major organisational disaster. The only thing is, I got a bit sick as a result, so had to skip my swimming class today. Which I’m not happy about. But you can’t really cheat lack of sleep and this is how it caught up to me.

So what’s the first thing you do when you’re on top of  Mountain Chaos?

The first thing you do is: rest.

Counterintuitive, I know. I get to the point when I feel quite aggravated by the mess, if overwhelmed by it. But today… today me and Manbear slept in and crawled out at some unholy hour in the afternoon. There was coffee, naps, conversations, I made fluffy pancakes, and somewhere in between all of it I felt myself unwind.

pancake
Exhibit A: fluffy cloud pancakes = relaxation.

And that feeling, right there, is what Fridays are for. This is why I took a paycut from my (not substantial!) teacher pay; this is why I am creating a blogging habit and trying to cultivate things that don’t give me immediate career returns. Capitalist millennial bullshit aside, today is my day to breathe and maybe get my hair stroked, and watch last episode of Marie Kondo.

And if I just so happen to make a pot of tea, put a podcast on and meander through my room folding a random article of clothing, well – I don’t have to do that; nobody makes me do that. And that, all in all, makes a difference.*

 

 

*I have not in any way committed to folding any clothing. I might try playing the piano instead.

A Blogpost That Took Roughly 3% Of My Phone Battery (At The Time Of Typing The Title)

It’s Sunday. I have about 24 % on my phone battery and the charger point at my EasyBus seat is broken. I’m taking an A7 from Stansted to Waterloo, typing this up, because it’s the weekend and on weekends I blog. I need to close the loop, even if I’m tired and it feels like I have little to say.

I flew to Poland on Friday. It was my Mum’s birthday, and instead of sending expensive flowers I sent myself via a cheap flight. My Mum doesn’t really need extra Stuff that gifts bring, so I went all experiential. She was delighted. I should do this more often.

When I was on the plane I came up with a phrase “sexual loser”: provocative, something that gives me feelings and thoughts. I’m not in a position to write that essay, it feels: I don’t have the space required to approach it. Perhaps it’s possible to shove deep writing in the margin’s of one’s life, but I’ve never been able to do it with anything longer than a poem. This is an essay: I have mottos and quotes. Perhaps something to throw on my Medium profile when I resurrect it.

Instead, I have this blogpost, sandwiched between commitments – as am I, between the window and my seatmate. I will get home via Tesco, hold the Manbear briefly and go do my Sunday night quiz. It is the stuff of my life, this pay-the-bills work, but today I’d like to read “Queer: A Graphic History” and be held and do some writing instead.

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