Why Nobody Wants To Be Called Middle-Aged

 

Has anyone ever sat down and wondered at their old photos? It’s my lovely little sister’s sixteenth birthday today, and so we’re sat around, looking at photos from when we were both just tiny tots. And it’s hilarious. I was a victim of the perpetual bad hair day, and my sister just looked like a thug, with the biggest baby head I have ever seen. She also had an adorable little top-knot. It made her look a little bit like a teletubby. Does anyone remember tellytubbies? I used to quite like them.

I also quite enjoy looking at what your parents used to look like, twenty years ago before your teenager strops and tantrums turned them grey, or bald, or thin, or fat. It’s even more strange to look at them in long-forgotten holiday photos, before you were born, when your Mum was still blonde, and your Dad carried a slightly more svelte figure than you’ve ever seen. It’s really, really weird when you realise your mother was the dead spit of you, and therefore you catch something of a glimpse at what you will look like in middle-age.

I always think the phrase ‘middle age’ has slightly negative connotations. The Middle Ages, in Britain at least, were dark, and smelly, on the whole. Technology hadn’t begun to advance, and people had come to something of an intellectual standstill. Illness was rife, death was more common than a bucket of sewage on the head, and to add to this predicament, religious order was still a serious issue. As in, well, there wasn’t one. I think I’ve found the reason why nobody likes to be referred to as middle-aged.

And then there’s the problem of after middle-age. Old. Elderly. An older person. Nobody would ever want to be referred to as old, and I can imagine being unbelievably irritated if somebody had referred to me as old, even if I was about ninety-six years old. Anyway, I have to go, and carry on my excursion down memory lane. I apologise for my collection of thoughts on age; I’ve never known what it’s like to be old, but I suppose one day, it’ll creep right up on me.

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Writers Are Always Naked

A woman who built a whole sub-culture underneath a dress (1)

Today I’m feeling completely awful, because I’ve got yet another cold. Probably an airport souvenir. But there we go. I got my September issue of Vogue yesterday, so at least there’s some consolation. I’ve decided that instead of actually moving this morning, I can carry on writing. My head doesn’t hurt as long as I keep looking forwards, and not to the side. I was enjoying reading the catwalk show stuff, and reading about upcoming winter trends. Winter gives everybody an excuse to buy leather boots. I went through a two-year phase of wearing heeled boots every single day, with jeans. As a result, I have calves of steel, and six pairs of boots. Some people (especially my dad), would six is too many. However, you can never have too many pairs of shoes.

Clothes are people’s way of hiding things that they don’t like, and creating personas of their choosing. Wearing a sharp suit makes somebody more confident. A track suit is comfortable, but jeans can be as sloppy or as sensible as one would like. It’s all up to you, like wearing a shield. Even cashmere is like a protective layer, and it stops people seeing the soft and squishy bits.

Anyway, back to the task in hand. My novel. It’s going fairly well. I have ten chapters. I even have a rough idea of what might happen next. Not many people can say that. I wish I had somebody whom I could rely on for critical reading and suggestions, but allowing my friends to read it seems somehow like walking down the street naked. Letting people read your work is like letting them see you naked. That’s why I don’t very often publish poetry online, and it is why I tend to be less open about my novel to the people who actually know me. Do you beautiful writers understand what I mean?

There is something distinctly intimate about literature, and about writing as a whole. Literature can be a window into somebody’s innermost thoughts, but it can also be deceptively shallow. The depth of meaning can only be known to the author, and the meaning of a text is not something that he will ever have to reveal to an audience. Postmodernism toys with the idea of depth and surfaces, and becomes very much like cubism, or impressionism. What is there, and what is there not? There is no way of telling. You could get into a huge debate about the author function, and whether a novel exists because of it’s author or vice-versa. But in this [articular arena, where almost all of us are aspiring to be writers, screen writers, poets, everything, it seems unfair. Saying an author only exists as a story seems to almost void our own ideas of ourselves.

But there we have it. I am enjoying my own metaphorical nakedness. I might even consider letting other people see it, one day.

(:

(1) http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/images/marilyn_monroe_white_dress.jpg

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Prom Pandemonium

Today is my little sister’s prom, and it’s fantastic. She’s absolutely terrified. However, we’re one step closer to being ready; our nails have been done, at two the hair will be done, and then it’ll be make up, and time to get dressed. I’ve been given the job of being a lady in waiting for the day; on hand to do things such as doing up dresses.

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It’s strange to watch because I remember my prom, and it seems like a million years ago. Really, it was three years ago. And the prom that’s taking place today is far more sophisticated, taking place in a hotel instead of the school hall, but on the downside, the food sounds an awful lot worse. I think the decor will be pretty and we’ve had to have a ‘getting out the car’ rehearsal. The music will be lovely and there will be wholesome, school disco dancing.

I think I might be more excited than she is though, because at the moment she’s just paralysed with fear. She can’t button up her shirt because her hands are shaking so much, and she keeps saying she’s not hungry. Her poor date is going to have a meltdown on his hands in the car on the way in. It’s just because she wants it to be perfect, and everything has to go off without a hitch. It’s all in the detail.

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She wants her hair tied up in a loose bun, with curled strands around her head. Her nails are so long that they’re scaring me a little bit. She’s going to look like a little princess, who has just finished school. She’s all grown up, and she’s going to the after party with her friends, and it’s just so exciting. The icing on top of the cake is that the sun has come out, and since she’s going in a convertible Mercedes, that’s something of a benefit.

Listening to all the prom related conversations is something of a bizarre experience, because I’ve spent all day talking about chiffon, acrylic nails, hair styles, cleanser, Clinique foundation, eye shadow, the make up she’d like to wear… and so on. I am girly and I like doing all this girly pampering stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a long conversation about the benefits of a kitten heel. (Personally I’m not a fan; an all or nothing kind of girl, you might say).

Anyway, I have to go and sort out an exfoliation on my little sister’s back now, so that her skin will be shiny and fresh for tonight… I’ll let you know how it goes!

(:

(1) http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/hamsterman/hamsterman1105/hamsterman110500142/9567877-composition-with-makeup-brushes-and-broken-multicolor-eye-shadows.jpg

(2) http://www.carreviews2012.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/mercedes-clk-coupe-300×225.jpg

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On The Canvas

The subject of piercings is often a contentious one, especially when raised between parents and children. The same sort of thing goes for tattoos. Parents as a rule do not tend to agree with offspring putting holes in their eyebrows, lips, nipples, and so forth. I have managed to work my way around this by saying that I won’t ever get any tattoos, or facial piercings. Piercings below the neck are accepted with a degree of derision, repulsion and disapproval, however on the whole, tend to pass without being commented upon.

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In a professional sense, I think they ought not be on show to your boss. There are boundaries, however I think that as long as they’re covered, anyone ought to be allowed to alter their body in any way they might want to. It’s an artistic licensing issue. We all have one beautiful canvas given to us at birth, and by the age of eighteen, we are granted the ability to put whatever we so wish on and through our skin. It’s kind of beautiful, if you think about it. Anyone can look as they want to. Nobody has any real right to change the way you look, except you.

I like the idea of being an individual. It depends on you, I think. Everything is beautiful, as long as it’s yours, your idea.

(:

(1) http://www.amazingtattoo.info/data/media/11/tattoo_model_search.jpg

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To Read Or Not To Read; That Is the Question

I’ve often wondered about literary opinion, and how literary opinion differs between people. Everyone understands the world in a different way to somebody else, and so naturally, they will understand literature differently too. Literature, and one’s attitude and understanding towards it, depends on experiences. Experiences of education, literature, whether you enjoyed your lessons when you were in primary school, whether you have a natural love of reading. These are all key factors in understanding what literature is, and whether you enjoy it, or despise it.

I know people who have yet to finish an entire book, and I suspect there are people who go their whole lives barely reading books and magazines. This is of course, a life choice. Whether you want to read or not is entirely up to you; education demands a certain amount of reading. If you choose a literature, or essay based degree, you’ll find reading to be nonnegotiable. Arts courses tend to be much more vocational, and this choice depends very much on the style of learning one is accustomed to.

Philosophy of the Mind (1)

It’s difficult to know how you’ll feel about different kinds of literature, until you experience it. For example, I don’t like all kinds of literature. I really dislike mythical Greek and Roman texts, as well as finding James Joyce’s Ulysses utterly intolerable. Some regard it as an example of the greatest literary creation of all time. I think it is a grammatical abomination, and something that is so complicated that it begins to lose its point, because it’s completely inaccessible. Conversely however, I thoroughly enjoy T.S Eliot, who is well-known for regarding literature as an elite pursuit and past time.

Philosophy is something else that is considered highbrow, and rarely brought down to an accessible level. It is complicated because it involves thinking about the makings of the universe, and theorizing on that most illusive of characters, knowledge. However it’s less complex than some think; it’s a matter of having a good teacher and a simple reader, to introduce someone to the rudimentary elements of philosophy. There’s no need to over-complicate things, and dive straight into analysis on Plato’s dialogues.

I consider literature to be one of my greatest loves, and I consider almost everything to be literature. I think that the well-written blog can be considered literature of all sorts; some blogs can be understood as literotica, some can be understood as beautiful prose. New writing is the writing that will one day be considered classic, and will belong to the modern cannon, and so I think it’s important to look at new literature, read magazines, of all kinds; fashion, photography, literary; they’re all part of a modern culture that will, like all cultures before it, be revered by future generations.

It’s all about enjoyment, you see. Culture is formulated through the things that people enjoy; a city with a strong opera programme tends to become linked to the opera as a pursuit and therefore becomes a cultural construct. To this end, we create our own culture. I’d like to think we do, at least.

(:

(1) http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/workshops/_files/Philosophy-of-Mind-Workshop.jpg

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Notes Backwards

We’ve all wondered what we’d say, if we could travel back in time, and tell ourselves what to do. I thought I’d blog about it today, on account of the weather being simply terrible, which is making me all reflective, and thoughtful.

Knowledge, and university courses. In the pursuit of knowledge, there are several things a person must know. The first, is that learning stuff, the big stuff, isn’t easy, and unless you’re bless with a photographic memory, something I dearly wish I had, you will spend an inordinate amount of time reading, rereading, and note-taking, before you can confidently declare to understand something. Moreover, somebody will always know more than you about something. This is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt to be absolutely the very best, at everything you try to do. You should take the university course you love, because otherwise you’ll be extremely resentful of it, and it’ll make it one thousand times more difficult to finish it.

Art. Art is important. It’s important because we like to build things, create things. We must remember to write, read, draw, and dance, throughout the exams, and throughout the long working weeks, because otherwise life becomes well, incredibly boring. It’s also never too late to be something you’ve dreamt of being, even if you find you’re just a little older than the others. That just means you’re more mature.

Body. You think you’re fat now, however hindsight suggests you were wonderfully slim. As Baz Luhrmann quite rightly says, “you are not as fat as you imagine”. Take care of the body. Get some exercise, even if you hate it, and remember not to eat too much rubbish. Some junk food however is good for the soul, and so eating some of it is strongly encouraged. As is the eating of broccoli.

Success. Being an awkward child, you don’t know what you want to be yet, however you do know that it’s going to be something incredibly high-flying, and difficult to manage. The aspiration will seem like it’s a really long way away when you get a reality check, and sadly have to check into the real world for a while, however you ought to just keep going, and find new ways to pursue things. Thinking outside the box is really very, very important.

Self Confidence. Another Baz Luhrmann quote. “Do not congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either.” I find these to be rather wise words, and he has a point. Remember not to get complacent, and don’t think that you know everything. When you get to university you will be humbled by everyone and everything, including your peers, how daunting the real world seems, and how little you really know about your degree. Just remember it’s only the beginning, work hard to understand more, and use the library often. Do not be disappointed if you don’t just sail through, straight away. There’s no reward, if it’s too easy.

I think that summarises my wise words of the day. I think it’s useful, sometimes, to remember what you’ve learnt. It makes you feel wise, and more mature than you were when you first started out, even if it was only really six months ago.  The video by Baz Luhrmann is something I find incredibly useful too, have a listen!

(:
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Indecision, Haircuts, and Farmers

It’s the eve of my nineteenth birthday, and all I can think about is a profoundly adolescent, female specific problem. Namely, my hair. It’s always sort of hung there, being curly. However now I’m approaching advanced age, I’m thinking of changing it. The colour has to change (I recently experimented with red, and despise it), and I shall need to go back to something vaguely honey and copper toned, I think. I shall leave this in the hands of my hairdresser.

Unfortunately however, I cannot simply give her free rein with the scissors; I need some direction, especially because I have particularly curly hair, which, if cut badly, will never look quite the same again. It will mean hats will be essential for the succeeding six weeks, and the experience is not really one I care to repeat.

(1) Standard haircut protocol...

This kind of conundrum does make me wonder about the superficial expectations of society and the opposite sex as a whole, however it mainly makes me question my own ability to like myself; it would seem my appearance is more important to me than anyone else, and the only person who really worries about my hair’s current colour and style is me. I put a disproportionate amount of time into worrying about my weight, and a conversely small amount of time into worrying about whether my hair looks nice. It rarely looks nice, especially during term time. I lose the ability to maintain grooming habits every time I set foot in my flat. Eyebrows are just sort of painted on, and I start to be less concerned with wearing make up.

It’s very strange to consider how appearance is directly proportional to exposure to modernity; farmers do not worry about their complexions or weight particularly (I’m sure there are exceptions), and country women typically are less concerned about heal heights and skirt lengths. Whenever I’m back in the city, heels become appropriate again, and clothing becomes much sharper. When I’m in the country, anything but jeans can be considered as an example of being overdressed, and knitted jumpers are perfectly acceptable evening attire. In the city, nothing short of a LBD will be worn on a night out. In the country, shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops are essential. We rarely dress up, unless there’s a space themed party and some tinfoil involved.

Anyway, back to my current conundrum. I want a fringe, possibly, however I’m very worried that this will accentuate my slightly round face. I often look in the mirror and wonder what I was doing on the day they handed out the well-defined cheekbones. I need a new hair colour, and I want something new, however over the last six months I’ve pretty much covered the entire colour spectrum, from platinum blonde, to deep mahogany. I shall be satisfied with lots of highlights and lowlights, I think. In something vaguely honeyed. As long as I’m not ashy blonde anymore, I think I shall leave happy. This still doesn’t tackle the question of the cut though.

Oh, isn’t life hard?

(:

(1) http://www.everydaypeoplecartoons.com/cartoons/327—September-30-October-6,-2007,-sense-of-self-haircut.gif

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Onwards, Upwards, and Backwards

The problem is time, and loneliness. They go hand in hand; they always have. People do not form meaningful relationships overnight; a classic example of course, is the one night stand. However people also do not form relationships over any short period; there are fleeting friendships, holiday romances, work colleagues. They all form your perceptions of the world around you, and impact you in different ways, however they are rarely long-term friends, or even very good friends, because after all, we impact one another without ever really realizing that we have.

(1) It's nice, to be together. Ask Winnie the Pooh.

I always feel slightly deceived by the cliques that exist in high schools across the world, and the misconceptions that surround universities and colleges, after high school. Nothing really changes, and friends are not magically made. You do have to go out and find them, and hope that whilst you’re away, your old friends don’t move too far away from you. This is one of the worst parts of university; a complete upheaval of everything, including your friends, who are essentially the people you grew up with. It’s hard to be away from the people who know you better than anyone; suddenly you have to start making first impressions all over again, being presentable. You cannot be yourself in its full, unmitigated glory, because people can’t always handle that.

It’s challenging then, to go back to a time where people don’t know you, and have no history with you. They really don’t know you from Adam, and therefore, why would they bother with you if you didn’t come across well? This is a valid point, and one that I think is rather valuable to remember; people don’t owe you anything, ever. You call in favours, you must have history and friendship; the world is build on the latter. It’s a warm fuzzy idea, however sometimes it’s just plain alienating, because the new world is a billion miles away from where it used to be, and nothing is ever quite the same, after that. Including going home.

It’s inevitable that some life changing things will happen, and that some progress will be made. How much or how little is dependent on one’s willingness to change and evolve, and sometimes people have to go forwards in order to appreciate what they used to have. People move on. It’s one of the worst and best things about university, and I think it’s natural to think that. People are the same across the world; even if we were all still together, things would still be moving along. This tends to happen; as horrible as it is during high school, its way worse in reality.

But inevitably, we also find new people. And these people are just as amazing as the old people. They’re our people too. Real friends never tend to move too far away; they always come back given a phone call, or two.

(:

(1) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/best_friends255b1255d.jpg?w=300

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On Time

Time is fundamental to people. We use time to measure when we should sleep, how long for, and how our entire lives should function. We measure our days in terms of hours and minutes; appointments are scheduled in hours, or half hours. Nine am is the accepted beginning of the work day; this presumption emerges from the natural trend of sunlight and sunset, and broadly, sunlight is present, in the UK at least, from nine until five, for most of the year. There are some black winter days when it is dark by four pm, and not light until nine am, but that is a construct of the seasons.

I’m having a brilliant week, because of an abundance of time. I’m essentially finished for this year, and before exams and revision kick off, I am to enjoy a brief respite from university work. The weather is beautiful, and I have little to do except lie around, reading books, and going to the beach. Waking up in the morning with nothing to do is a fantastic feeling, if it is a rare one. It means you can spend an extra twenty minutes in the gym, and then go home, and conduct your day as you so wish.

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Certainly one of the creepiest portrayals of time I've ever seen. (1)

Without any spare time, household, administrative type things cease to happen; the dust on the carpet reaches levels of visibility, the washing basket overflows, and the purse starts to expel receipts. You get too tired to care about doing menial things, and in my opinion at least, this is depressing. I like to have a day, every so often, dedicated to doing boring administrative tasks. Dusting, and laundry, and so forth. I can’t abide not having enough time.

I also have an extremely irritating tendency to develop viral, throat based complaints whenever I’m incredibly tired. If I work a number of extremely busy days at work, with only five hours sleep between the end of one shift, and the beginning of another, I get some form of cold, flu, or sore throat. This has been alleviated somewhat by a tonsillectomy, however I still get twinges of sore throat, and stabbing pain in my ears. I wish I could be one of those people who can function on only four hours sleep every day, but I’m not sure I could- I get very grumpy, past a certain point of exhaustion. To the point where even I don’t recognize the snarling, irritable, pale creature staring out of the mirror.

Anyway, so back to my point; I like having time. We all base everything we do on time constraints, balancing our lives between commitments. In the modern world especially, we’re busier than we’ve ever been. I suppose it’s important to recognise however, that we should always, always, make time to do the washing. Because everyone needs clean pants.

(:

(1) http://www.ideachampions.com/weblogs/Dali%2BPersistence%2Bof%2BTime.jpg

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Learning to Jog

It might sound ridiculous, but I have never been able to jog on a treadmill. This is related to a past experience when I was ten, of falling off a treadmill. I fell forwards, face first, and skinned most of my legs. The carpet burn was the worst I’ve ever had. It was intolerably uncomfortable to sleep, for days on end. So now, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I thought I’d better conquer the fear, and jump back up onto the treadmill, if only to provide my gym routine with a degree of variety. Also, I’m an adult, and therefore should be able to use a simple conveyor belt, to run. A bit like a hamster in a cage, really.

So I stepped up, and firmly tied the STOP string around my wrist, to the point that it nearly cut off all circulation to my hand. I even turned the machine on. So it starts whirring, and I start walking. “This is okay,” I’m thinking. So I increase the speed, and this is when it all, inevitably, goes horribly wrong. I have to press stop, because essentially, my feet aren’t in time with the rest of me. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have no rhythm, and even less grace.

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So, a strategic rethink was required. I came to the conclusion that if I could hear an obtrusive beat in my ear, then I might be able to do it a little bit better. So I found the loudest Eminem track I could find, and turned it up deafeningly loud, and repeated the entire start-up process again. Following the beat seemed to mean my feet were almost able to jog. So I felt more comfortable, and as I realised I wasn’t in pain, and I was still  upright (much to my surprise, and the surprise of the woman who seemed to be chuckling at my poor attempt), I decided to turn up the speed. And there I was: jogging along, at a steady pace, for a whole forty minutes. Forty minutes passed, and strangely, went really quickly. Whenever I’m in the gym, you see, time seems to slow down, and whenever I’m doing something urgent or enjoyable, it seems to pass at double its normal speed.

Therefore today, I feel like I’ve accomplished something; (I have really, I finished an essay, wrote this post, and argued at length in a seminar, about the merits of feminism in the workplace) I learnt to jog. I also learnt that you shouldn’t look at the treadmill floor whilst you do it, because this will cause you to become unbalanced, and frankly, I need no help in being unbalanced. I have it down to a refined science.

The gym is a scary place, but it’s nice when the treadmill monsters have been expelled, and you can add “treadmill” to the list of gym equipment that you are no longer terrified of.

(:

(1) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/treadmillcartoon-1.jpg?w=300

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