May 28, 2022
7 mins read
When I wrote my first blog last week I was sitting in a house that’s not mine (I’m housesitting), looking after two cats I don’t own for a couple I don’t know looking out of massive glass windows onto two glossy cars, the kind of which I can’t hope to ever own. A reminder: I’m 51. I live and work in Wiltshire. I used to work in London where I own a small studio which I am trying to sell to buy my own place, but I owe on the lease and it’s all is causing me a lot of anxiety. I’m divorced, no savings, no kids, debts to pay, size 14-16. I’m housesitting to save money. I had my own Events business but have given it up, Coronavirus cancelled it, and in any case, I was toiling too hard for not enough money (the last event cost me money). I am working for others now, but am not where I expected I’d be at this age.
Hence, SNAFU: Situation Normal. All F**ked Up. Toast because that's my go-to meal.
Anyway, back to the blog (which can actually be called a ‘newsletter’ these days, depending on where it’s published). I wrote a list of the dreams I had when I was young and a list of where I am now. I shared the list on Facebook. And then….
And then it was a surprise to receive a cascade of positive comments and virtual coffees. I am extremely grateful for each and every one, especially if you are reading this here. People wrote that they relate to the feeling of not being where they thought they’d be or (I assume) if they are pretty sorted, encouraged me to keep sharing. 50+ Social Media Insight: Facebook might not be fashionable with people who grew up watching Peppa Pig but I’ve always found that my friends on there are a positive group of people. I had to Google that Pepper Pig reference, by the way, not having kids means I don’t actually know for sure what people under 30 grew up watching, feel free to update me! I do know the sweets though. And what Google is.
Where were we? Oh yes, the blog. OK, the biggest surprise was that some people called me ‘brave’. It made me think. It actually made me a bit paranoid. What do people really mean by that? Do they genuinely mean – ‘plucky, courageous, valiant, lion-hearted’ or do they really mean – ‘foolish, foolhardy’ and (my interpretation) ‘you’d never catch me revealing that’?
For instance, I bumped into a very nice, successful businesswoman with shiny hair ordering Friday night drinks at the local hotel bar. I sort of know her, I really admire her (especially the hair, personally anyone with salon-sheeny hair even when they haven’t just stepped out of a salon is top-of-the-tree in my book). She smiled; said “I read what you wrote, you were really brave ” I watched her lustrous locks bounce off to join her friends on the sundeck. To her it was probably just a pleasantry while buying Pinot. But to me it was a reality-check. I felt like a nuclear-bright searchlight had been switched on. I felt exposed, which when you think about it was bound to happen when you air your dirty laundry in virtual reality. So, d’uh.
Yet it made me think, which is always a good thing, because this project of putting my innermost thoughts and outermost situations onto a pixellated page and pinging them into the ether is intended to help me examine the reasons why I am where I am and to make some sense of who I am. Like a digital distress flare, perhaps or – glass half full - a wordy shooting star.
Hearing myself described as brave suddenly made me feel frozen, a bit scared. Did she mean that in a good way? Had I actually done something quite stupid? What if my parents read it? What if employers read it? What will former colleagues in media, many of whom are super-successful think? What do my ‘new’ non-London living friends think? The feelings were and still are uncomfortable and that was interesting. I couldn't write for a few days. Until now.
It dawned on me that I can’t possibly know how everyone will react when reading about my experiences, my thoughts, my vulnerabilities. I assume everyone will respond differently, depending on their own feelings about their lives and potentially compare their lives with mine, as comparison is part of the human condition. We’re all looking at each other all the time, measuring our progress by that of others, twitching the net curtains of our lives. All I can talk about with confidence is what I feel. And I think the most overwhelming feeling is shame. I feel ashamed that I haven’t been able to be present enough in my life to feel ‘grown up’. To not have the big house, the kids, the cars or the multi-million pound business. To not have the product-pretty hair, the Pilates physique. To have made the wrong choices despite having been born with some advantages – born white in the West, to parents who although they didn’t love each other, loved me. To have had a university education, general good health. I have this overwhelming feeling I have squandered all this. I should have done better.
It's a difficult feeling to live with and one I am examining, DIY-style. I’ll get back to you on that.
MEANWHILE...GET OUT OF DEBT UPDATE
This week I’ve
*Listed one thing on Facebook marketplace (£5)
*Listed some jeans on Depop (£38.50 probably optimistic)
*Started going Marie Kondo by sorting some clutter out for a Jubilee car boot sale next week. ‘Aint too proud to get my old stuff out on a table and beg for 50p for it.
*Been really grateful for your virtual coffees.
HAPPY THING THIS WEEK: TOP GUN: MAVERICK
I went to see it and loved it. What the world needs now is some good old-fashioned ‘80s heroism laced with homoeroticism. I’m not even joking. Such brilliant timing to release it now, just when kids of the '80s are feeling despair creep around the edges of their lives, thanks to their own ageing bodies and the reality of world events.
Remember when we went to the cinema and watched films like this re-enforce stabilising American greatness and we unwittingly lapped it up? Then we turned against its pervading might. Now that world as we knew it is crumbling, returning to Maverick and mates is weirdly reassuring.
There are a lot of old guys in it looking buff. There are a lot of young guys in it looking buff (see beach scene). There’s Val Kilmer with a face like a pickled foetus. And yay! The women are modern. Granted there aren’t many female characters in it, but those that are show barely any skin, they fly planes and drive classic cars, own bars and some even have fine lines around their eyes. They don’t take their clothes off, there’s a female and male gaze.
It made me happy. It reminded me of a world when I felt safe (1980’s). Of course the world wasn’t any more safe then (Russia was still threatening world extinction and Aids was ripping the heart out of the gay community), but I was younger and far less aware. I was only thinking about Ra-Ra skirts, George Michael and shiny (permed) hair.
BUY ME A COFFEE?
If you’ve liked what I’ve written and feel moved to buy me a virtual coffee, you can do so here. I'd be very grateful. I’d also love to hear what you think about what I’ve said.
I probably won’t buy one like this again though. It straight-up cost £5. WTF?!
Until next time.