Wednesday, 29 January 2014

But what of the head?

Yeah, I don't really know what's been happening recently, but it's been quite grim. Last week: Monday-Wednesday heavy ennui-slash-despair-slash-anxiety, Thursday demented running around, then Friday, demob happy staring into space. Weekend - tense, paying for Friday's lack of productivity. This week: Monday - AWFUL. But yesterday's activities were cancelled, so I feel reborn. A whole bonus day! One I didn't expect! Ideally I would have got around to finishing  this post, but I didn't, entirely and am having to edit it to reflect this now, sigh.

I'll stick to the now-traditional format for when I am confused and out of practice.


- I told one employer I could only do one piece a week and not two recently, thinking it would free me up to pitch for exciting new work. Um, yeah. So far I have just sunk into a decline, believing myself to be incapable of getting new work, ever. Idiot. I mean, I still the think the principle is right, but I need a kick up the arse to actually put it into effect. OH GOD, I WILL NEVER HAVE ANY MONEY, is my main thought currently. I'd say it recurs about 28-43 times on an average day, then on Fridays and Saturdays I hush it with wine and really shit telly. This is working out really well for me. (no, it isn't, things are bad).

- I am trying to stretch a slightly too small pair of Repettos by wearing them for a couple of hours a day and the pain in my right big toe is ungodly.

- I've just heard the Eurostar restaurant reviews are being cut to 100 words, which basically gives me space to say "I went here, it was good".

- I have been trying to lose a tiny amount of weight in a sensible eating, non-psychotic way and it is awful and a misery and by 4pm every day I am ready to kill everyone and devour live puppies. I had forgotten how appallingly I react to low blood sugar (how I wasn't arrested when I had an eating disorder is a mystery). I think for everyone's sake, I should just resign myself to a life of more assertive support underpinnings and more biscuits. Presumably if I were to persist, I could struggle through to a new, lean, clean, clarity without my sugar crutch, but the chances are I would commit aggravated assault in the process. The greatest utility of the greatest number is not served by me being thinner, I conclude. Stubbornness, however, is setting in and I find I do not want to admit defeat.

- I have a new dickhead neighbour who sits right by my ear (or so it feels), playing 80s cock rock and free jazz and I am about ready to murder him (see above, re. murderous thoughts).


- The kid who had a bad last report did really well in his exams, so everyone is lightheaded with off-the-hook-ness. None of us wants to be trudging through more part participle agreements when we could be watching eg. "Splash" (D list celebs hurt themselves learning to dive) or the very promising sounding but appalling in execution "The Jump" (D list celebs hurt themselves catastrophically learning to ski jump). Also, a brief aside: THE OUTFITS IN THE JUMP. I am actually speechless. Never in the history of human endeavour has such unflattering clothing been worn by so many. They look like a collection of neoprene coated barrels, decorated by a whimsical toddler with access to Christian Lacroix's stock room.

- The thick January brainfog is definitely lifting. I only want to curl up in the dark and lull myself into fur and cashmere lined oblivion for 14 hours of the day now, not 24.

- I HAVE DECLARED MY ID CARD LOST AFTER 13 MONTHS. I have tortured myself pointlessly with this piece of admin for approximately 390 days. This morning I finally went and did the deed: 10 minutes in the police station, everyone perfectly polite, then 10 minutes at the town hall, €20, everyone also perfectly polite. I can't pretend I'll learn my lesson as a result of this, because I won't. I have also lost my driving licence but some horrible force - embarrassment, I think - stopped me from asking for a declaration that that was lost too, which is so stupid, and just means I will have to go through the whole rigamarole again, presumably for another year or so. Hang on, that's a 'down'.

- I have found great comfort and fascination recently in both Slipstream (the Elizabeth Jane Howard memoir), which is full of self-doubt and bleak patches and in this interview with Joanna Scanlan, who is a most wonderful actress, but who I discover today spent over a decade in total career wilderness. It's not the 'look, there's always hope' part that fascinates me so much as reading women talking with total frankness about being properly, grindingly miserable from time to time. I don't know quite why that's so comforting, but it is. Also, wow, Kingsley Amis does not come out of Slipstream covered in glory.

- As I type, F is drawing me a diagram and giving me a highly detailed description of how to dissect/taxidermy a mouse and it keeps making me laugh.

A photo:

He is unsure what to do with the head, as you can see. Any elucidation very welcome.

Tomorrow I pledge to write a post without a word of complaint, so that's something for us all to look forward to.


Gappy said...

No idea what to do with a dead mouses head (give it to the dog?), but I can assure you I have, at times, been almost catatonic with the most paralysing misery you can imagine. It happens to the best of us.

breakfastlady said...

I can completely empathise with your freelance blues. My entire 2013 was a bit like that. 2014 has dawned more promisingly, but one is always aware that this month's invoice is only this month's. It grinds me down sometimes and makes me think I might quite like to go and work in a bookshop.

I haven't seen The Jump, having taken a vow of abstinence from such programmes after watching one pitiful episode of the 1st series of Splash. If, as MrB maintains, Playmobil is the zenith of late capitalism, then this is surely the nadir. It's all downhill from here (if you'll pardon the pun).

Are the Belgians as in love with red tape as the French? I had a friend when I was a student who lived in France for a year without getting the *vital* carte de sejour, went to live back in England, and was obliged by the French authorities to go return to France and get the permit, retrospectively. I would hope that the EU freedom to work regulations put paid to that, but I bet the French nation was in mourning for months if they did.

Anonymous said...

"a collection of neoprene coated barrels, decorated by a whimsical toddler with access to Christian Lacroix's stock room"

You are wonderful.

Totally sympathise with the awful horrid procrastination - I have no idea why I too self-sabotage in this way. And yes, in 99% of cases, it's never ever as bad or as difficult as I feared, and I spend far more time feeling bad in my head about the not doing. I'm forty seven FFS. But also a freelancer, which makes it very easy to drift.

Apologies if this is not what you want - and you may well decide it has too many horrid connotations for you - but I have been doing the 5:2 diet with spectacular results (the final 5kg of baby weight - son will be 8 soon). Okay I stopped for Nov-Dec and have gone up 3, but am back on it again and finding it really suits my character (=short lived focus, sigh). You only bother to think about what you eat two days a week, the other five anything goes.

Anyway, thank you for your writing. I love your posts and you, Anne Namh and Mimi Smartypants are my three favourite bloggers ever, for ages. So please keep on.

WT Softie

Anonymous said...

I have been freelance for 20 years and all I can say is January is always the cruellest month. As well as a tax bill that I can't pay, yesterday brought the joy of a terminally broken fridge. Why fridge, must you die in January, not in July? (Because in January says the FridgeGod, you can keep the milk on the windowsill until you can afford to buy a new one.)

I love your blog. Although you are now responsible for the wastage of many minutes watching youtube clips of the Jump. Steve Redgrave would not put with rubbish pay and malevolent white goods, that's for sure

Anonymous said...

Could you please write about the low sugar experience? I'd like to show it to my boyfriend who thinks I'm the ONLY next-to-be hungry serial killer.

I have always found it impossible to starve aka be on a diet. I rather do more sports. Yoga, bike, swimming, anything. Just leave me my food.

The Reluctant Launderer said...

A propos nothing at all (except that you once recommended Nothing to Envy to me, and it was FABULOUS) have you read The Orphan Master's Son? Also FABULOUS, and will make you think that things could be worse - you could, for instance, be living in North Korea. (Tangentially, today I had to go to the Ministry of Manpower (truly!), which was itself like a little slice of DPRK here in downtown Singapore.)

Dale said...

I am supposed to be writing a book, and it is perhaps not a book for which the world has a burning need. I tell myself that is why I am currently having dreadful difficulty with procrastination --- yet surely this frozen, horrid state is worse than actually writing could possibly be?
Every so often I succeed in fooling myself into getting something accomplished by saying, "Very well, you only have to make an effort for this one hour," and then somehow the wheels catch, and I attain forward momentum. I do admit there are days when nothing helps, except perhaps a good book about bad times, as you have pointed out.

MargotLeadbetter said...

I second the 5:2 diet. I never thought it would suit me but it did, and definitely worth a try.

I may be about to make the leap from steady well-paid job to no job and I am agonising over it. I can hardly bear/manage the current job anymore & am so stressed, but I do like the regular income. Don't know what to do but thanks for sharing the freelance experience.

PG said...

Hah! I declared my ID lost after 2 years. The very polite policewoman said in horrified tones, "we can't put 'two years ago somewhere unknown', put 'last week'". And I looked at the notice above her head reminding us all that it was a crime to give false testimony, a warning repeated on the piece of paper before me, put 'last week' and signed.

Anonymous said...

I have my doubts that Kingsley Amis has really ever come out of ANYTHING covered in glory.

Waffle said...

BL - Oh yes, the red tape is baffling. But the diff between France and Belgium is a certain ... flexibility. Often, if you don't have the right piece of paper here, they will shrug and overlook it. Which is nice.

WT Softie - What a lovely thing to say. Thank you!

Anon - Your bastard fridge. All sympathies. I have a winking, disco tax bill due on 20th Feb, plus various other smaller siblings. Brrrrrr. The Redgrave would definitely not put up with this.


Anon - Ahahahahahhaa it would go something like headache-headache-irritation-headache-AAARGHREDMISTREDMISTREDMIST - food -fine now.

Dale - A good book helps so much.

Margot - I know it often sounds grisly here, but for all the financial doom and ugly home truths about my own lack of oomph and motivation, I do like it better than my well-paid job. Which is good because I am now wholly incapable of getting another one.

PG - I lied too. "Dimanche" I said. Without explaining that it was dimanche 13 months ago. Ssssssh.

Redfox - Very true indeed. He must have been magnetically charming to get away with being such a shithead.

Anonymous said...

Unsolicited advice, feel free to ignore/ delete
Being a freelancer has its good points and bad ones. The main problem is that most freelancers, despite being very good at their actual job (in your case, writing), are not very good at other no less important stuff like marketing themselves, seeking out good clients that pay on time, etc. I would really recommend crunching some numbers to see how much you need to earn as the bare minimum to pay your basic expenses and trying to guarantee that income on a monthly basis with work that may be boring and not exactly what you prefer doing (say, translation or copy-writing, for example). Build up a relationship with an agency and devote part of your week to that humdrum work that you know will pay your bills. Explore German and US agencies, they tend to be a lot more serious about paying on time, which is amazingly good for reducing anxiety levels as the end of the month draws near. I learned this the hard way, after years working on interesting/ creative/ enjoyable projects and chasing after bills/ being seriously stressed out all the time about bills. Now a lot of my work is mindblowingly boring (machine components instead of art catalogues, for example)but the clients always pay on time and I no longer have to panic when the mortgage is due. Initially I missed the buzz of the interesting work but now I'm just glad for the security of knowing I'll be paid promptly.

Keep a couple of days free for other more interesting work and gradually when the more interesting stuff is more secure, you can pare down on the boring stuff. In the meantime, aim high and charge high, especially for the work you enjoy, because if you don't ask, the clients will never suggest more money.

Procrastination is a curse that afflicts all freelancers, particularly now with the Internet. Sometimes it's better to just go for a walk or out for coffee rather than sit there torturing yourself at how little you've done.

As for the misery, take good care of yourself in the midst of all the stress/ deadlines/ children & housework etc.

OK, back to those machine components, enough procrastination for one morning!

Patience_Crabstick said...

Slipstream: I also liked it that EJH was so open about her depressions. She certainly had terrible luck with men.

carolinefo said...

Had exactly the same reaction after reading both Slipstream and the Scanlan interview.

Cheered me up no end as I continue to feel like a world class failure, and make sporadic feeble attempts to remedy the situation.

I love Joanna Scanlan, she's brilliant.

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