Sorting Things Out

SONG: I Wish I Could Go Back To College – Avenue Q

This blog is part explaining, part reminiscing.

The Explaining

I’m obviously not blogging every day any more like I said I would be. That’s because my life has changed a lot since January. At the beginning of the year, I needed a focus, I needed something to fill the void left by completing the novel, and I needed to keep my brain working while I tried to get some journalism work.

Then, I actually did get journalism work in the form of my amazing, ongoing internship with Domestic Sluttery that has taught me more than even I thought would be possible. It takes up a few glorious hours a week, (I’ve had two articles published too – one on Elderflower wine and one on the cutest gadget case ever) but I’m also now working frantic 10 hour days as well so I’m rarely home before half seven at night. All my blogging time is therefore taken up with this new, busy, exciting life I lead.

Plus, I wasn’t really sure my content was worth reading when I was scrabbling around for something to say every day: quite frankly, some days I do little more than drive to work, drive home, watch an episode of The OC and eat some mini party rings (amazing, by the way), and so I don’t have many profound things to say. And some days, even when I do, I just want to get something more than 6 hours sleep. And I didn’t want to compromise this blog’s quality of output by trying to compensate with quantity.

Second bit of housekeeping: OOH BIG EXCITING NEWSyou no longer have to be logged in to WordPress to comment here. Therefore, no matter who you are or how blog-savvy you are, you can write something below just by filling out the box. Not that any of you probably have much to say in response to this drivel. Don’t all go mad, now.

The Reminiscing

As you know, my parents are moving house. This has prompted lots of sorting out. Today, it was the turn of the schoolbooks.

It was quite bittersweet. Part of it was depressing: I read through some of my old diaries, and notes from friends when we were fighting, and realised just how over-emotional and hormonally buggered I was. Paranoid, needy and just generally embarrassing. “Oh, I’m fourteen and the boy I like didn’t ask me to the disco, IT’S BECAUSE NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME!
I hadn’t realised what a nightmare teen I was. Every other day I’d exclaim how much I hated one friend, relative or another. Basically I was a bit of a whiny bint, and I don’t know how I didn’t get drop-kicked at least once.

It was also quite inspiring though. I remembered that at school, I was constantly able to prove I could do things and get recognised for this proof in a way it’s very difficult to achieve in adult life. You get big red A’s on your work, certificates of achievement for so much as sneezing correctly, and recognition from your peers of your general coolness like notes passed in class, or drawings in your exercise book illustrating how much you belong in your friendship group (although one of mine took the form of a sketch of a cheerleading George Michael that I found earlier today – I cannot remember why I was given this, but it did remind me that my friends are awesome.)
It really shocked me how much I had forgotten what it felt like to be on top form: I found my A-Level Drama workbook, in which my drama teacher (who was the strictest, hardest to please man in my entire school history, and yet taught me more than anyone) wrote – after a series of ‘no, no you’ve missed the point entirely‘ annotations on my work – “Great work. Grade: A – back where you belong.” I’d forgotten how amazing that felt.
I found awards I’d totally forgotten about, essays I wrote in levels of French that I can no longer decipher (I hadn’t realised how good I was), and sheet music from choir solos and piano lessons which had felt so impressive at the time.
I even found a book from Year 5, in which my ten year old self had written my ‘Goals for the year’, describing how ‘I am excellent at reading – top notch – but I want to improve even though I don’t need to‘ (annoying little shit, wasn’t I?) as well as things like ‘I’d like to improve my story-writing although I already think I’m quite good.’

Then I actually found some of my old stories – one about me going to Egypt to look for a missing Mummy and being joined on my quest by the Spice Girls (yes, it was EPIC), and one I wrote when I was eight about a girl who gets taught how to play beach-ball by ‘a clever dog that lives next door called Ziggy’ (yeah… not so good.) I was still impressed – I hadn’t realised how early on I was writing with confidence (even if most of it was utter balls. BEACH-BALL PLAYING DOGS?)

The point is: I can do good stuff. I could do it at school, and I can potentially do it even better now I have some life experience under my belt – well, at least stuff that is more life-affirming than Year 9 trips to Belgium to stuff our faces with cheap chocolate and abuse the fact the legal drinking age was fourteen learn about the War.

Maybe I achieved more at school because I had less real life stuff to get in the way. Maybe I achieved more at school because the teachers spent every day inflating our egos like we were  an entire race of child prodigies every time we so much as correctly identified a verb. Maybe I achieved more because there was a sense of healthy competition and boundless optimism among only a couple of hundred other pupils, rather than having that nasty adult feeling of being a small fish in a big ocean with the ever-present knowledge that I might, just might, never actually amount to anything. (Insert a picture like this to help set the mood. I am of course being melodramatic to make a point. Nobody call the Samaritans just yet.)

Or, maybe I’m looking back with glasses so rose-tinted that everyone’s starting to look like Mr. Blobby. School was hard – just look back at the start of this post where I talk about my angst-ridden diaries and notes, and everyone’s constant battle to have the most issues, the most reason to be misunderstood, the most valid relation to everything Death Cab for Cutie, The Used, Dashboard Confessional or Something Corporate ever sang about (seriously, have you heard Konstantine? All that aggressive piano stamping, and lyrics like “Here’s to dying in another’s arms, and why I had to try it“?! It’s nine minutes of pure whining. I, of course, used to LOVE IT.) Maybe it’s just that we spent our entire school days trying to impress our peers and teachers, and what I discovered today was the relics from where I succeeded in this, and a reminder that I still can achieve things – you just don’t always get a red tick and a mark out of twenty any more to cement it on paper, and you shouldn’t need to either.

Anyway, enough regressing into my whiny teenage self – I’m taking my sheet music home to learn the piano again, I’m taking my French vocab books home to brush up on my francais, and I’m going to write more fiction. If I could do it when I was ten, I can do it now. Even if saying that does make me sound like an annoying little shit again. Shut up okay, or I’m telling.

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2 thoughts on “Sorting Things Out

  1. Since you took the trouble to provide a nice box to put comments in, I thought it would be a waste not to put something in it.

    I am so pleased to hear that you are going to resuscitate your piano playing for which you have a lot of talent. You can come and practise on mine whenever you like – or have you got one of your own hidden away?.

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