Single And For Hire
The other day I was having coffee with a friend, she was whinging about being single and I was complaining about being unemployed for the first time in a long time (technically I'm freelancing, not unemployed but whatever you want to call it the bulk of my days are spent looking for work).
We holed up in a cafe analyzing the digital behavior of one of her prospective beaus, cyber stalked a potential set up, de-briefed on the awkward silences of a train crash date and discussed at length whether she should call 'him' or leave the ball in his court a little longer. After a satisfying afternoon of caffeine, cake, scheming, analyzing and plotting I was walking home wondering why all of this 'single behavior' seemed to resonate so strongly with me, despite my being blissfully loved up for 4 years… Am I having single flashbacks? Am I missing the single life? (…not likely.)
After much pondering and a near miss with a passing tram (those things come out of nowhere) the penny dropped. Being single is alarmingly similar to being unemployed.
And there I was all smug and 'attached' thinking I'd long escaped the politics, tactics, hair-pulling and general confusion that is the dating games.
The whole sordid process starts with dreaded CV and motivation letter it's like bleeding onto your keyboard. It's always a confronting process and you inevitably spend way to long picking a photo to go with it (and inadvertently develop an obsession about the size of your nose or the space between your teeth). Then you show it to friends they they either rip it to pieces; "is that really the photo you're going with?" and "You don't speak Mandarin, and when were a reindeer herder in Norway?" or they blow way too much smoke up your arse, wildly inflating your ego; "It's phenomenal" "With a CV like this they'll be asking you to run for President!"
After that's done you have to actually send the thing to prospective employers and every time you press send you wonder; Will they like me? Was I keen enough? Did I sound desperate? Was it a bad idea to include a YouTube video of a very determined mouse with a very large biscuit? Did I sound like an arrogant wanker? Should I have sounded more like an arrogant wanker?
And then the waiting game starts, every time my mail box 'pings' or my phone buzzes my heart jumps into my mouth: "Is this it?" "Do I have a date?"
Every rejection is like a paper cut: it's a minor injury, but it still stings.
The you finally get an interview (the big date) and then it's all hands on deck, you need a strategy, will you go in fresh and enthusiastic, or will you play hard to get, or maybe a bit of tough love is in order: Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen.
And of course you have to find the perfect outfit, something that says: "I have style mad skills… and giant balls. Now hand over the job."
During the interview it's about so much more than first impressions, you're sipping you're coffee (with poise and professionalism) trying to work out: Do we want the same things? Is this a one night stand or a long term commitment?
And they ask you things like "Have you had a lot of interviews?" (Which translates to: "Are you seeing anyone else?"
And after the interview more waiting ensues. Can I call him or should I wait? Maybe I should email, you know just something casual and carefree with a couple of friendly emoticons? 😞
And then there's the online-dating. Cyber stalking people on LinkedIn, and hoping friends will 'set you up' (there's a very fine line between networking and stalking).
Even Facebook isn't a safe zone, someone tags you in a post about a job vacancy and you suddenly regret your profile photo (no prospective employer should see you in a Halloween costume before they hire you).
So in short: I'm a fastidious Libran, hard-working, team player who likes holding hands and long walks on the beach. I'm not looking for a ring right away, but some kind of commitment would be nice.
The Right To Be Crap
I just had an epiphany. They're great aren't they, epiphanies it's like being hit with smartness/knowledge lightning. It's sharp and fierce and if you're not quick it disappears before you can make sense of it. My most recent epiphany happened in front of my computer (not exactly the most inspiring place in the world, but still, you never know where lightning is going to strike).
Recently, while watching a movie the protagonist (a writer), goes to see his shrink, he has writers block. He feels like every time he starts writing his initial good thought immediately turns to shit when he starts working on it. The shrink tells him to go and write a page about something, anything he likes. The protagonist pauses before he answers and asks: "Can it be bad?" The shrink looks at his patient and answers, "yes of course, I'd like it to be very bad."
At that moment I realized something. I realized that being allowed to be bad at something is one of the greatest gifts or the greatest kindness you can afford to someone.
Allowing someone to be infinitely shit at something, to let them cock it up royally, to make a mess of something, fuck it up, to let them shit all over it (what ever it is they are doing) is truly the greatest gift you can give someone. Every day people all over the world wake up with a to do list in their heads of things they want to achieve and things they want to become. This list is inevitably unachievable because these people don't attempt these things because they are scared at being crap, scared of making mistakes and making a fool of themselves.
They say (though I'm still trying to work out who 'they' are) that you should do one thing each day that scares you. Emphases on the word 'do'. 'They' don't say "almost do one thing each day that scares you, but stop as soon as you realize you're shit scared you're going to fuck it up." That would be bad advice.
I'm writing every day, and my writing is read and scrutinized almost every day. And funnily enough, although the act of writing brings me the greatest sense of contentment I have ever experienced writing also scares the pants off me, because every time I write something I'm worried (this in an improvement on what used to be convinced) that it is going to be bad.
And sometimes I'm not even concerned whether it is other people that think the writing is bad, if I deem it bad, then it's bad. But, what I'm realizing is that sometimes, bad is good. I think there is a sliding scale from bad right through good and on to phenomenal. If you have a bad idea well it's better than no idea at all, rework it or perhaps it will lead to yet another idea slightly less shit than the last one which may then in turn lead to another idea which is again even less rubbish than that idea and if you repeat this process a few times suddenly you've turned a bad idea into a not-bad idea, into a mediocre idea, into an ok idea into a good idea and so on and so forth. Sometimes you get lucky and lightning strikes, but a lot of good ideas are just bad ones that have had a lot of polishing and elbow grease invested in them. Or maybe a good idea means discarding 149 shit ideas to get to one really good one. But once you get there it all seems worth it.
While I think giving other people around you permission to be bad is important I think the key lies in affording yourself the same kindness. Let yourself be bad, you never know, you just might turn out to be great.
Cookie Critique What does your choice in cookie really say about you?
Cream filled: There's no hiding your soft gooey center. Fluffy ducklings and the smell of the top of babies heads is enough to make you melt. You have a weakness for orphaned children, homeless animals and 80's ballads. Basically you're a bit of a pussy.
Oreos: Oreos, seriously? If everyone around you was eating cat turds would you do that too? You've been brainwashed by cute American kids, fluffy dogs and dairy products in expensive ad campaigns… they taste like arse. Be daring, try having an original thought.
With icing: You're inclined to be superficial and somewhat vacuous. Your image is everything to you and you pick your friends based on who makes you look best, and who compliments your outfit. Your best friend is a reflective surface.
Half half: Oooommmmmm. You are a Zen master, the living embodiment of the Yin and Yang. You make a scale look out of balance.
Oatmeal, raisins and other healthy shit: That's not a cookie. You Birkenstock wearing, Prius driving hippy.
Caramel: You're not the crunchiest cookie in the packet, some might go so far as to call you… thick.
Chocolate coated: Stop trying to be something your not, that dark glossy exterioris not fooling any one. You are not a chocolate bar.
Fingers, sticks or any long shaped cookies: Men - you're overcompensating for something. Ladies - Sucking (what you think to be) seductively on a cookie might be delicious, but it ain't sexy.
Nuts: You are, totally.
Chocolate chip: You have moments of brilliance, little chunks of greatness. But the rest of you is kind of dull.
With sprinkles: Men - If you like cookies with sprinkles then there's a good chance you like brightly coloured drinks with cute umbrellas and names like "Fluffy Duck". Ladies - You are not a 5 year old.
You don't like cookies: You freak! Either you are not human and should go back to the planet you came from or if indeed you are human, seek medical treatment. Obviously, you are very ill.
I Hope You Lick It
A couple of years ago writing was just a hobby for me, the odd blog post and the occasional flurried regurgitation of ideas floating around my head via my fingers into my computer. But those ideas were private, I would never have dreamed of letting anyone read any of that stuff.
But now a couple of years later and I feel like I'm getting close to being able to call myself a writer, instead of a something-else/ writer. If I'm totally honest with myself being a writer is what I've always wanted to do even though it's taken me a long time to have the guts to pursue it.
I remember being at primary school and sitting at my desk diligently copying and tracing over dotted lines: the bold bulge of the capital B and the mountains and valleys of the W. The moment I realized that these shapes were in fact letters that could be used to make words and sentences, and that these words and sentences could be used to free all of the stories flying around in my head was probably my first big epiphany.
I remember feeling intensely liberated and empowered, I took to writing like the proverbial duck to water. All I wanted to do was write, I would write stories about numbers on the back of my math worksheets and when we were painting I just substituted my pencil for a paintbrush. Words with colours, amazing!
I've always had a pretty active imagination (some would say I have imagination ADHD) and writing has always been a way for me to quiet the noise in my head.
By some bizarre stroke of madness I am currently working as a paid writer… how the **** (rhymes with duck) did that happen?
I'm working as a copywriter with an advertising agency and I love it.
It's the first "real job" I've ever had that I genuinely love.
Lately I haven't had a lot of time to write outside of work. What I'm finding is that it's getting very crowded in my head. I've discovered that my mind is a lot like a central train station; the ideas come in, I write, and they leave, onto the paper, the screen, napkin or whatever I happen to have handy. But lately with spare time being scarce I'm finding that my cranial train station has become decidedly clogged. All of the trains are still coming in but there's no tracks open for them to depart. So in order to ease the congestion I'm starting this blog, to open the tracks up again. And, I think writing is like anything else, you have to practice to become good at something, and even when you're good you have to train to maintain your fitness, and improve. So this blog is my literary training ground.
I'd be flattered if you'd read some of the results of my umm, training.