Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Tale of Three Christmases.


2011.
'I'd say "see you in the New Year, have a good Christmas", but... I know people saying that has been annoying you lately.' He winks, and I giggle, noting the little reference to the fact that he reads my blog. Something stirs in my chest when I think about that lovely little fact; he reads what I write. It seems so silly, especially when he's just a good friend with whom I watch 'How I Met Your Mother' and eat cinnamon toast on weeknights. But still, he knows how to make me smile. 
Why do I always wonder how I should end our little interactions, though? A hug seems appropriate. Maybe a kiss on the cheek - he's a good friend, after all. I hope he's not expecting a proper kiss; that's stupid, why would he be expecting that? I smile and hug him, careful to tilt my head away from his just enough to convey my pointless message. He's wearing a tight black shirt, as per usual. I might miss him, come to think of it. I might not. 
I carefully pull away from him, and unlatch the door (there's no use in it being open while I'm away). 
'See you later!'
On my way home, I get a text saying 'What's the game Ted and Marshall play in the car when they see a dog??'
'Zitchdog!'

2012.
I'm sitting in my friends' living room, sad and sore and wishing I were somewhere else. The smell of roasted potatoes and thick gravy pours in through the doorway; everyone's running back and forth from the kitchen, paying no attention to the TV and positively buzzing with their own little stories and holiday cheer. Assignments are handed in, placement is over, and for them, life doesn't get better. I'm left alone all of a sudden, and I want out. I open the front door quietly and gently, and execute my first flawless Irish goodbye. Then I'm running, down the Lane, faster than I thought possible. Trying not to think about this time last week, the shouting and the ice; trying not to think about the hospital up the road; trying not to think about the huge white room; trying not to think about how deeply unsatisfied I was last night; all I can think about is home. I call my friend with a car, begging for a lift, while running. I get to my house and throw everything I can into a bag, forgetting all that's important, but what else is new? I text the Unsatisfying One, and say 'I'm on my way home!'
'Wow, that was a fast decision!' He doesn't care. Of course not.
Within the hour, I'm on a train. And I'm headed home. 

2013.
£9.60 for a bottle of de Gras, well, it's rude not to, right? Christmas drink is sorted.
'Are you a member? No, would you like to be? Another time, that sounds like a plan. Gift card? Is it a Christmas present? Do you want me to start it on Christmas Day for you? Cool, done. Let me just get you an envelope for that... Coffee? Yes of course! Americano, latte, cappucino, mocha? Is that with an extra shot? - I recommend the extra shot, as it can be quite weak without... Lovely. If you'd like to wait at the end of the bar, I'll bring it over to you!'
Psssshhhhhttttt, whirrrrrrr, spppllllggggg, choopchoopp. Shot shot, foam, chocolate, sugar and spoon. Done. Time for a sit down.
Enter tall gentleman. 'Hey, my dad!'

A few days before, we walked up to the front door and said our goodbyes. A taxi pulls up, and the driver is wearing a Santa hat. He's not for us - he's for London. Whoever or wherever she is.
He pulls me in, squeezes my side, and gives a sweet bristly kiss. We won't see each other for over a week, which suddenly seems like a long time. He's coming to visit, though. He wants to meet my family, hang around in my house, see my town and learn where I come from. Come for a pint at my local, bump fists with my sister, sit down in front of the TV with me in a place where he's never been, to make me happy and to know me better. Which is inexplicably amazing. It's the best Christmas present.
'Merry Christmas, baby.' 
'See you soon, honey.'
I love his eyes. Back to Battle I go.


Friday, 20 December 2013

The Block and the breaking of.


Writer's block.
People will say it's simply a psychological anomaly, common in creative types who have worked themselves too hard for too long. Or more cynical so-called professionals will insist it's simply an author's way of begging for an advance, some more money to swallow up and spend on ornamental typewriters and vases of flowers to 'inspire' themselves again. 

Personally? I find Writers' Block to be something chemical within; dormant until a dark day comes when the creative mind has been bled dry and needs a rest. So it lapses, lazily, into a comatose state and leaves behind toxic fumes and lingering sadness for its host to rely on and live off for as long as they can - until they, too, are exhausted and physically fighting off the fumes as they are engulfed and find themselves longing for the very same sad coma. 
I've not had the dreaded Block since I was eight years old, and couldn't finish my short novel I'd been writing because I couldn't think of any plausible way that a cockroach and a grasshopper could fall in love. 
Tonsillitis, depression and late nights have been my life as of late - desperately trying to keep up with what needs to be done, and if needs be pushing away the things that matter most to me. 
The other day I was sat in the fascinating and Fringe-esque venue that is The Railway inn; the downstairs room reeks of beer, whiskey, steel strings of countless young musicians and smoke that has poured in through the windows out of the mouths of misunderstood students. Now we, arguably the misunderstood, gather in the bar area surrounded by our coats and bags, props and costumes, nervous and exhilarated and waiting for that rush that only a one-off onstage performance can give. Exciting. Tense. Amazing. All around me there's chatter and giggles, nerves and urgency all bubbling and jangled together. I so badly want to be a part of it. 
However, my sore throat and my sad mind won't allow it. Weeks of strenuous rehearsals, pointless arguments, passive aggressive comments and packets of painkillers have all blurred beyond recognition and are preventing me from enjoying... Anything. I sit in the corner, staring longingly at the bar and the bottles of Scotch beyond, feeling exempt and unworthy. Drained and useless. Sore and world-weary. I'm dreading my onstage scream, and my laptop that awaits me at home. The empty Word documents and the long-neglected blogger page. Today is yet another day I must struggle through, listening to the words hitting the window pane in my head, buzzing and begging to get out, before staggering to bed and sleeping them all away.

My boyfriend (I can now say these words without an anxious intake of breath beforehand - yay me!) gave me my Christmas presents today; three presents, one theme. 'In case of Writers' Block'. I feel angry and devastated that in the whole time he's been with me, he's barely read a word I've written. It's my fault, and it needs to change. 
He bestowed these beautiful treasures unto me: books I'd been poring over in Waterstones, ones I wanted but couldn't justify buying for myself; 'Wreck This Journal', 'This Is Not A Book', and '642 Things to Write About'. Also, a bottle of Jack Daniels (I happened to have bought him one too, because we're beautifully in sync as only a couple can be/raging alcoholics who need whiskey to function in social situations) and two full-size bars of chocolate. 
I love dating a writer. Songwriting is his thing, and strangely enough his scribbling and tuning has filtered into my locked-up brain and woken me up a little. The presents, and a rather excellent film we watched tonight, were the greasy breakfast and pot of filthy coffee I needed right after waking up, to keep me going through the day.

'Saving Mr Banks' is a splendid, magical masterpiece. Laden with shameless symbolism, packed with cheese, and deliciously exploitative of the Mary Poppins generation - it's perfect. A stubborn author, a whimsical figurehead and his little clique of tapping secretaries and fancy-footed songwriters, plus a philosophical and friendly driver who loves the Californian sunshine and tries to win over the typically tight British woman... And one heartfelt wish to preserve a beautiful childhood character, battling with a drive to bring her to life on the big screen. Two passions colliding. Piano keys tinkling. Chim-chimminys aplenty. 
The little girl within me - the one who sat every weekend on her grandparents' reclining sofa with a plate of peanut butter sandwiches watching 'Mary Poppins' on VHS - she was transfixed, seeing her beloved Disney nanny again and discovering the story behind her. 
The twenty year-old young woman, the outer me, she wept three times throughout the film and whispered along to every musical number as it was brought to life before her in Walt Disney's rehearsal room in 1961. She chatted her boyfriend's ears off about it all the way home. She got in and immediately sat herself down on the sofa with a glass of water, frantically typing her every thought out on her Blogger app. 
Suddenly, she was writing again. 



And in all honesty - I really, really want an ornamental typewriter. 
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