Time flies when you’re having fun

Konfuzius-1770Three years ago this month, I left my last ‘proper’ job or what felt like my last ‘proper’ job: the 9-5 in the office kind of job. One I rolled into and left with as much bang as is still decent: off to find what I loved doing.

“Wanting to write” was more a rough direction, rather than a clear destination. Over the years it grew into one, mostly by just doing it, trying it out, honing the skill. Writing took on many forms: reviews, articles, pilot-scripts, theatre scripts, blogs…  I helped people and businesses translate manuals and contracts, and I’m currently working with a friend: writing press releases and marketing material for her fashion agency.

I attended a screenwriting and a scriptwriting course, meeting similar souls and making new friends. It takes time but it pays off: tonight I had a meeting about a logo for the theatre company I am part of. It may seem a small step but it is one step forward and I’m super proud of our efforts.

I put my hours in and not much of it is paid, which means that there is still a money-job on the side but even that feels just part of the bigger picture. It’s been three years since my last ‘proper’ job and it hasn’t felt like I have had to work ever since.

 

Be Woman

flickr by deeplifequote
flickr by deeplifequote

Today is International Women’s Day and among the celebrations I read one comment on FB today: ” Congratulating women on International Women’s Day is congratulating a HIV patient on World Aids Day”  My response was: “Yes because being a woman is like having HIV.” Which he promptly liked. Dick.

For those of you who don’t consider women a disease and for those who have the fortune to be one: Celebrate! Women are great. Their position in the world, in society has radically changed over the years but there is always room for improvement.

This year I celebrate my personal examples: a grandmother with a law-degree whose single mother protected her and her three sisters with a shot-gun she’d learn to shoot especially for this cause. (Though her brother had to buy it. Is it a true story? Who knows. It’s a good’un.) My own amazing mother who studied in a foreign language and had her own dental practice before becoming a mother, and who can still better single-handedly reverse parallel park a car than any person (male or female) I know.

International Women’s Day still exist because equality is not a given: the horrid rape case in India or the shooting of Malala Yousafzai and even in the modern Western world, a less violent yet still worrying problem exists of a significant gender pay-gap. It might be a men’s world we live in but nothing is going to change if we aren’t brave enough to step up. The world is changing, this Alpha male power trip in the economy hasn’t particularly panned out well, and as society looks at other ways to keep on going: we can be leaders in the new world. I am not saying women will do it better, but women will most definitely do it differently. Just by sheer being, we can make a change in a world that needs it and is more and more ready for it.

Live life my friends, especially if you are a woman. To honour those who have gone before us, to advance those who are to follow: be courageous, be woman, be proud.

Pokerface / The “My Friends” test

This weekend I met up with friends, one of them just bought a house with her man. Let it be known: not a flat, not an apartment, no ma’am a Real House! It comes with a garden with chicken-holding potential, two cars (and a business-van) on the driveway. It was very exciting to see that in five, ok six, years after graduation this all happened for her.

We had a barbecue, slept in the sun and I was taught the art of poker. It was interesting to see how different our playing strategies were and perhaps we resembling of our different lives. After learning the rules (it seemed that every household has their own variation, it’s a bit like Spaghetti Bolognese…) my strategy  seemed to bet whenever I even thought I stood a chance. This made me win the first round and lose everything in the second: it was all or nothing. Then I learned to moderate and to fold sometimes, but that was a bit boring.

All or nothing, or I get bored. Story of my life. As we are approaching a year since I have decided to change and rearrange my life, it seems wise to evaluate.

I am happy with the work-in-progress. I have made decisions, I have travelled not to find myself but to find people who think alike. I  came back with confidence, a renewed focus and I have applied myself to my new goal. There seem to be a lot of projects in the pipeline and I hope something will pay off. I have a sense direction and the feeling of freedom.

On the other hand: the novelty of crashing on someone’s floor is wearing off, the lack of income is getting a little ridiculous and the call of the money-making dream-squashing Sirens is getting louder. So are the screams of my heart for New York. On top of that are the moments of doubt that pop up : though they have stopped sending me into irrational panic, I cannot yet ignore them.

So sometimes I do what I like to call ” My Friends Test”. I think of all my gorgeous friends, both old and new, who have encouraged and supported me. If any of my friends would be in my exact situation, feeling exactly how I feel: what would I advise them?

I would tell them to keep going. To try to fix the money situation with non-soul destroying paid job but to not lose focus now they’ve gained momentum. To keep an open mind to any opportunities. I would believe in their abilities and trust their decision-making.  I would say that they deserve to be happy.

I would want the best for them, so why would I accept less for myself?

Happy Day

The perfect last day. The sun was out and I would meet the girls for breakfast before going on a mission. For the ease of this piece of writing, I have decided to christen them Aphrodite and Athena, after the Greek goddesses.

Athena arrived late because she was cold and decided to buy a coat – damn I like her style. Breakfast was like Christmas where I got loads of presents and sweet notes which I couldn’t read because I refused to cry. ( I found that staring at your coffee or tea intensely, helps for the moment to pass.)

Then it was time to go, as Aphrodite had to go to class, so only two were left to wander the sunny streets of the Lower East. Ok, we got a little lost. Not to fear we found a guy with a map. Swift recovery, we  indeed found what we were looking for.

Once inside, the phone rang, apparently class finished early and Aphrodite was on her way… To the amusement of the shopkeeper who insisted the whole thing really would only take five minutes.

It lasted three. How appropriate. Three minutes for each girl, for the bond they forged and the memories they made.

I realised that this was it, for now: this was New York for me and it had been all I wished for and more.

Guess that is it about the great things in life, sometimes you just need a little…

Don't worry mother, it's tiny!

Life is a roller coaster

It happened  last week, just as I was minding my own business in a bookstore: suddenly I was overwhelmed by the realisation that it would all be over soon.

Eight weeks have flown by. For a moment I was standing there, like a lemon, in front of the journal section, eyes tearing up with unexpected heart-ache like emotion.

Complete nonsense of course as there is nothing to cry about: New York has been amazing to me. I don’t even feel  like I’ll be leaving it soon, it actually feels like I have made a new friend who I’ll be able to visit.

I feel the same about my less metaphorical new friends; experience has shown that you don’t have to see each other everyday to still feel connected.

The fact that we did see each other (nearly) every day over the last few months, has made these eight weeks super-intense. Everyone came to this city as an individual and became part of this international group of people with similar interests, looking for the same thing. No wonder friendships were built in mere days.

Emotions were intense, disagreements/miscommunications, everything that would usually just be shrugged off, now almost became something of an event. When you are by yourself, without your usual social network to fall back on or flee to, or even without a familiar social context, the impact of an emotion can be huge.

This is the case for all emotions of course and indeed, a few liaisons have developed over the last few weeks.  Poor souls, if I fear the pain of separation from my friends, their agony must be a hundred-times worse. They might curse themselves for having gotten into something that could have a potential messy outcome.(Pints of Haagen-Dazs at the ready, washed away with soul-numbing vodka-shots.)

Still I hope they will give themselves credit for their courage. Courage being defined as:

 the power or quality of dealing with or facing danger, fear, pain, etc.

Yes, anyone in their right mind knows the risks of an eight-week affair. The key to this obviously,  is that these things are never a mind-matter, it is the heart’s. It takes some courage and strength to willingly step into an emotional rollercoaster without knowing what will happen when you get to the end of the ride.

The ride might make you sick or might even hurt you, but there is the thrill of the attraction! If you are lucky, you end up with a beautiful picture of you and your object of affection, beaming with happiness in one of the rollercoaster-carts (which you can pick up from the store for the bargain-price of $12.99 or $14.99 for a key ring.)

What I’m trying to say is, what is the price of happiness – be it fleeting, momentarily? So take a breath and hang on tight my friends: go a little crazy in the land of the free and make your mark in the home of the brave!

Buzzword of the day: journey

Nearly half-way: four weeks have given me so much and not just the course, as always when travelling by oneself, you learn about yourself.

This week we were discussing ‘the inciting incident’ in a film: the moment that sets the goal of the movie for the protagonist. To illustrate we were asked for the inciting incidents that brought us here and I was so taken by surprise that I didn’t even have time to lie: my break-up.

Yes it happened two years ago and this is still an after effect. It is the reason I chose to do this course in New York: the first time I came to this gorgeous city I was with my ex. It was bittersweet, the relationship started with a trip to Paris and ended in New York , but I never wanted that to be my lasting memory of the city.

Also, without a relationship to hide behind, I had to think about what I wanted with my life and I decided that even if any goal might be unclear, I still wanted to enjoy it.

I had to remind myself of enjoyment the other day, when my neurotic perfectionistic persona surfaced and I actually worried about a presentation. Note: the point of a story-presentation is that the group can help you with any problems you’ve come across and improve your ideas  by brainstorming or mind mapping or whatever you kids call it these days. My story had a beginning, a middle and an end: it’s practically halfway there! Still I worried it was just not good enough.

Story of my life: I start something I love doing, I put too much pressure on myself, I get scared, tears/tantrums, I stop doing it, I’m back at square one. Weave in a few unbalanced relationships to rock my emotional world and that’s basically my last decade in a nutshell.

This month I also learned that if you write a screenplay along the theory of the Hero’s Journey – where the hero leaves his ordinary world in search for adventure – the last act of a film should be about forgiving/ accepting the old world from whence the hero came, to be able to find peace/ a balance with their new life. If one is unable to do the latter, history will repeat itself and bite you in the arse until you confront it. (That is a free-flow translation, perhaps not a Joseph Campbell technical term.)

So here I am, two years later, acknowledging that I am not and will never be perfect; that despite this I’ll probably be a bit perfectionistic at the best of times and a tad neurotic at my worse; that I will always love though it might hurt me, because I refuse to live in fear; that hurt is part of life – all is forgiven; and finally, that no matter where I end up packing up boxes, waiting tables or fetching coffees: I am a writer goddarnit… and not a bad one either.