This morning I woke up feeling emotional. I had drunk a bit too much last night, which I think was part of it. I have two massive blisters on my heels – the price of prancing about in new shoes. I had also had a difficult week, which is probably the main reason why I felt teary and pathetic this morning, a far cry from the strong independent woman I feel I need to present myself as.
I really enjoyed the Christmas break. It was awesome. I saw most of my favourite people and didn’t have to drag myself out of bed every day. I read books, hung out with the kids, ate crisps and drank fizzy wine.
But of course the fun had to stop. I need to pay the bills. So back to work it was for me on Monday. Up with the lark, in the dark.
I did all the things I do to make myself feel better – I wore my brightest lipstick, my highest heels and took arty photos of winter trees to get validation on Facebook and Instagram. I listened to cheerful music. I tried.
But words cannot describe the sinking feeling I had on the bus to work on Monday morning. The creeping sense of despair that gripped me as I looked out at grubby grey London at eight o’clock in the morning. However hard I tried to pretend I didn’t mind going back to work, I deeply resented it.
I must point out here that I actually quite like my job in the college. I wished it paid a bit more money (dream on) but on the whole it is rewarding and I am treated fairly. It can be frustrating at times – trying to enthuse 16 year old mechanics about the language and structure of ‘Of Mice and Men’ is a mixed blessing. But it is also a lot of fun. Young people can be rude and difficult but they are also a lot of fun. Their energy is infectious.
I think what I struggle with is routine and the sense that time is not my own. Living by the clock really is a bit shit and I think it probably goes against human biology. I cannot believe it is natural to drag yourself out of bed in the dark of winter – but then by the same token it is not natural to use a smartphone or watch TV and none of us complain about doing that.
I also had a lot of stress around childcare, which fortunately resolved itself, but that didn’t help either. Childcare is always a problem for working parents; I still am not sure that society has quite got to grips with the idea that the mothers of small children need to work – though of course mothers who don’t work are equally stigmatised as lazy ‘yummy mummies’ if they have money, or even lazier ‘scroungers’ if they don’t.
Anyway, by Wednesday night I felt numb. As ever my friends were there for me – brought to me by the power of social media. People slag off social media for making us into a bunch of narcissistic imbeciles, but I think it is a lifeline. I sort my life out on social media and so do most people. I wanted to write or read or do something useful. But all I managed to do was paint my nails blue and listen to The Beatles.
The Beatles were the first band I liked when I was ten. But since then I’ve always told myself that I preferred The Stones. And The Floyd and The Who. A part of me found The Beatles a bit insipid and I must to confess to an unnatural hatred of Paul McCartney.
But on Wednesday night The Beatles were magical, soothing my brow with their timeless, joyful music. Listening to The Beatles took the pain away.
I played this about 20 times:
It is even older than me, but it sounds so new and so beautiful. It swirled through my senses and made me feel better again. Music has the power to do this when our brains are too over heated to deal with anything that involves thinking. It goes straight for the emotions. It is magic and I genuinely think that is why musicians have been revered by every civilisation.
Much as I hate to admit it, I am a very emotional person – I think a lot of us are. At least if you are female this is semi-acceptable, though I would say that some of the most emotional people I have ever met are probably male. Talk to a football fan about how he feels when his team wins or loses and you’ll understand what I mean. Being emotional is equated with being a bit silly, or weak, or lower class in our culture, yet if we are honest, most of our reactions to things are pretty emotional. We are basically powered by emotions and much of life is about managing or repressing those emotions. If we are lucky we find ways to channel our emotions into something positive; feelings drive activism, innovation and creativity.
So this morning I decided to see if I could channel my emotions. I went back to my book, The Flats. I’ve been thinking a lot about it – as well as being emotional I can be analytical – and yesterday afternoon I printed it out and went through it with my teacher’s red pen. It definitely helped, as did chatting to my very clever friend Karina, who is a script editor. Thank you Karina.
However, this morning something rather wonderful happened. I unlocked the opening paragraph, something that has been bothering me for the last six months. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It was clunky. But this morning I poured my feelings into my writing and something very strange happened. I worked instinctively and my words reflected that. They were no longer about ideas. They were about a feeling. It was one of the strangest and most powerful moments I’ve had for a long time. It was good.
I allowed myself to be emotional and did something with it. I think I might try that again some time.