Saturday, April 1st – and the local council’s April Fool is to set workmen going with a jackhammer right outside the house, uprooting lampposts. Again, it’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. Everyone’s home trying to have a little lie-in and then do some household chores – at least, they are at this time in the morning. When the noise started up, I went to the window to snoop and scowl, and it seemed all the people in our little cul-de-sac had moved as one. We scowled at each other across the tarmac and then at the poor workmen who, let’s face it, probably don’t want to be working on a Saturday any more than we want them to be. I imagine in a short while there will be a mass exodus just to get away from the rattling.
I was trying to record a new thing. I have given up, today at least, because quiet time is really only in the morning here – which really means I’ve given up for the next 8 days because I’m away to Inverness tomorrow, to wander around and stay in a nice hotel with a massive swimming pool. From Inverness I’m going to walk to Moniack Mhor, where I’m doing a writing thing. After five days there, I’m supposed to be walking around Loch Ness a bit and then coming home, but there’s a 51% chance I’ll just chuck the return train ticket away and keep walking North. ‘I’m not coming back to Real Life and you can’t make me!’
I’m nervous about the writing thing. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been in any kind of in-person learning/writing situation, with tutors in front of you and other students milling around – and I believe the other students are actual MA students. I’m not, and I’m sort of creeping around the bottom of a sludgy pool of self-doubt in all areas at the moment. Not, drowning, you know. More bog-snorkelling.
I’m pissing myself off, actually – because really, just listen to a good pep talk and crack on. Crack on anyway, even if you don’t think you’re doing particularly well. You know? It’s not a reason to quit. But that same 51% that would like to throw away the train ticket currently also wants to just throw up my hands and quit … well, everything. (I started a list, but it went on a bit.) Just quit everything and stop trying to foist words and noises and company on people.
I had a mild panic-attack on Thursday, when someone inadvertently reminded me it’s my birthday next month. Apart from hitting a landmark age in terms of which moisturisers etc you’re supposed to use and, like, whether you have any sort of legacy, I think how much you don’t dread your birthday sort of relies on how the last birthday went. It took me a while to start enjoying mine, and then for a few years they were fun, and then last year’s was quite shit: the second time someone significant fucking forgot it (not the same person, though). I’m not the most memorable woman in the world [no jokes – most people meet me at least three times before I stick in their heads at all, and I have a side job as a superspy as a result] but if we live together and have been for several years then you’re low on excuses.
Do I still sound annoyed about this? (Yes. Everyone thinks I’m nice and kind – I don’t know why – but I’m actually fuelled by rage. I can nurse resentment for decades, and prefer my revenge corpse-cold.) Obviously it jabs at that secret fear that everyone has that you aren’t really known by the people who are supposed to love you. Or maybe that’s just mine, and not a secret anymore because I’ve just blurted it out on the internet. Playing your cards close to your chest is no fun, basically. Who wants to be mysterious and unknowable if it means someone’s going to get you white chocolate instead of dark, and a shitty pink card with a shopping ballerina on it instead of a joke about dinosaurs?
Of course, the way to not be a crap mysterious unknowable is to actually put yourself out there, discuss likes and dislikes (and make clear what the important ones are. One bad night in a pub it came to light that one friend thought my life so revolved around Game of Thrones it would go on my coat of arms [don’t ask], which is so patently not true that I’ve never really forgiven it.). Tell terrible jokes and hope someone gets them, and better yet, gets to know you well enough that they tell you your jokes are terrible but like you anyway. Or something. Give the backstory. Put your heart on your sleeve, and on paper, and in song (note – you might need a good butchers’ knife and some cleaning materials) and just wing things out there instead of getting gloomy and secretive and whinging about how it’s all shit. Can’t have it both ways. Can’t hide in Highlands and then complain that no one got you a cake.
… oh. Guess I’ll hold on to that return train ticket, then.