Assumption: A Family Tree

“What do they say about assumption being the brother of all fuck ups?”

“It’s the mother of all fuck ups, stupid.”

“Brother, mother, any other sucker.  It don’t make any difference.”

I am, of course, quoting from Guy Ritchie’s 1998 film, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.  And the guys in question were talking about robbing their neighbours of their stolen drugs and money in order to not have fingers and toes removed by mob boss, Hatchet Harry.  But the principle is the same.

An overactive imagination and a poor maths ability, such as putting two and two together and coming up with 7  (apparently, not my lucky number) can lead you into all kinds of trouble.  Like some kind of super sleuth, I take all the clues, decipher what I believe to be the truth, and announce it in some ah-ha Cluedo-esque way, “Mr X is in Love with me because he Did this and I Overheard this!!”  Sadly, I don’t have anyone there to check the three cards in the envelope and say, “Nope. You’re wrong. Mr X doesn’t even Know who you are or Why you keep coming up with these crazy ideas!” before asking hopefully “Wouldn’t it just be easier to play Connect 4…?” knowing that all I want to do is keep guessing, albeit wrongly, at Cluedo.

Those of you who have read my blogs before will know that I do have trouble with the opposite sex (something to do with the fact that they’re men, I think).  Specifically, understanding them.  If I could get inside a man’s head, a la Mel Gibson in What Women Want, I’d be happy. Or would I?  I don’t really care about the football results…Yes, I’m stereotypicalising (yes, I know it’s a made-up word); but you catch my drift.  Without knowing exactly what men are thinking, I am left to try to fill in the blanks myself, with usually hilarious results.  Or they would be, if they weren’t so painfully heartbreaking.

This week I’ve been reminded yet again of how easy it can be to misread men.  In the last week, three of my male friends have called me “Baby”, “Sexy” and “Gorgeous”.  One is a one is a work colleague, one is an ex and the other a married friend I’ve never met.  Can you guess who said what?  Or can you tell which one bothered me the most?

It was being called “Baby”.  But not for the reasons you might expect.  Having become a bit of a feminist lately, you’d think I would hate it for that reason.  But, rather, it was because I enjoyed it so much that I had to ask him to stop calling me that.  The word “Baby” drives my heart wild, for in my dreams, it is my boyfriend who calls me that.  But not my ex, or rather a guy I had a fling with.  I knew there was nothing to his calling me Baby, but it kind of pulled my hopes up in a way I wasn’t ready for.  I assumed that perhaps things had changed now he got to know me, but I know this not to be the truth.  We are still friends, and I hope he doesn’t mind me blogging about this.  This blog is not about him, but rather about how I read situations (usually wrongly).

It was a work colleague who has called me “Sexy”, on several occasions.  Reading between the lines, I’m pretty sure he would like to go out with me (although I’m not taking anything for granted these days), but the feeling isn’t mutual.  I’m starting to feel uncomfortable now and so, I think soon, I will have to ask him to not call me that again.

The third was kind of a surprise.  It’s a friend I met on Twitter, who is, as far as I know, happily married.  Now calling someone “Gorgeous” isn’t necessarily indicative of anything, but I guess I just think about how I would feel if it were my other half calling someone that.  It’s been a one-off, so as long as it stays that way, I won’t need to add a third awkward conversation to my life.

One of my female friends said I should enjoy being called these things, because I am gorgeous and sexy.  Well, yes I know, but to be honest, I want that someone special to be calling me those things.  Perhaps that’s what hurts the most, is that I don’t have anyone to say those things to me.  Having male friends do it just gives me conflicting signals or makes me uncomfortable.

Maybe this is the truth of the matter.  I never had male friends growing up, and most of my male friends are those who I have either had some kind of “relationship” or whom I have been attracted to, but the feeling was not mutual.  I’m sure I’ve quoted this in a blog before, but Billy Crystal was right when he said, in When Harry Met Sally, that “men and women can’t be friends, sex always gets in the way.”

He’s right of course.  Many of my female friends will disagree, but to me, men are a minefield in whatever capacity they arrive in my life.

I recently wrote a blog called Friend or Foe, or Just No-No?  A guy who had given me compliments, which I had apparently misread, told me he’d better stop giving compliments to women in the future.  Are we really in a day and age where men have to think that way?  One thing I can do, now I’m in my 30s, is receive a compliment. Gone are the days when somebody might call me beautiful, and I would shake my head vigorously, and claim I’m not.  If I believe the person is serious, I will thank them for their compliment.  I just find it hard, especially where men are concerned, to see why, if a guy thinks I’m beautiful, he wouldn’t want to go out with me.  And if he doesn’t want to go out with me, why the hell is he giving me compliments in the first place?

Back to assumption.  I feel like I’ve strayed from the point a little, but really, I haven’t.  Assumption is when you have nothing to go on except what you’ve been given.  If, like me, you have trouble reading it, or misread it completely, then you are in for disappointment, heartbreak and who knows what else. The thing is, it’s not just what someone says or does that can lead to poor assumption.  If you believe, like I do, that Fate sends signs and makes things happen, then something that a ‘normal’ person might chalk up to pure coincidence, or not even notice at all, suddenly becomes the reason why this person is your soul mate.  I have a catalogue of these occurrences, the latest being very recent.  But I think Fate is having a laugh.  Either that, or she forgot that she was supposed to give the same signals to the other person.  Which is why he looks at me blankly, wondering who the hell I am and why I’m acting so crazy.

Once Upon A Time, There Was A Pretty Woman…

Twenty-two years ago, one of the most iconic rom-coms was released.  Tonight, I watched Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, in the film that made her name, and Richard Gere as arrogant-but-lovable businessman, Edward Lewis.  The difference between Pretty Woman and most romantic comedies, is that the lady in question, is a prostitute from Hollywood Boulevard.

I remember watching the film in the early 90s, when I would have been around the age of eleven or twelve, and wishing so much that I could be like Vivian.  Of course, being too young to appreciate what being a hooker actually meant, it was the fairytale that I wanted to be part of, not the seedy life of sex that had been Vivian’s life before Edward.

Now I’m 34, and watching the film still evokes the same feelings in me.  I feel for her when the women in the boutique on Rodeo Drive are nasty to her.  I cried when she cried at the opera.  I cried when Richard Gere climbed up the tower to rescue her.

Last year, during my study abroad period in America, I wrote a short fairy tale, about a princess who no longer decides to wait for her prince to come, and it is only many years later, when she has a successful writing career and is happy with her life, that she meets the man of her dreams.  Some people have correctly recognised me as the princess.  Of course it is me.  For reasons such as I have been watching Pretty Woman for the last two decades, and every time I cry because to me it remains just that; a fairy tale.

I don’t know if I will ever meet my prince.  My heart has been broken, not by being in love, but by heartache, in disguise as love, but what was actually nothing but a cruel fairy tale with no happy ending.  I still long to believe that like Vivian, I will meet the man of my dreams and that I will fall in love with him, and him with me.  But as time goes by, I am left to wonder whether fairy tales do actually exist, or if they are just stories we are told to give us false hope.

Soon I will write an essay about this film.  I will observe how one of the lead characters is a prostitute; how the other lead is patriarchal; how the film represents the high-low culture debate perfectly.  I will not mention how much my heart aches when I watch it, or how much hope it gives me when Edward climbs up the tower to rescue Vivian.  That is what I will keep in my heart, to hold the shattered pieces together, for I cannot live without the fairy tale.  I must have hope that one day it may come true.  Otherwise, what hope is there?

You’ve Got (To Deliver) Mail

Today I became the most expensive postal delivery person, when I hand-delivered my Fulbright Scholarship application to their office in Battersea. In fact, Postman Pat gets paid more than me, since I did in fact pay the train fare to deliver it myself.

You may be asking yourself why I just didn’t get it done earlier and avoid the costly process of travelling to London. I wish I could be that organised; unfortunately I am doomed (due to genetics) to be a last minute person. And on more than one occasion it has cost me where it hurts most – my bank balance. Anyway, I got it in in time, so that is half the battle. If I don’t get a scholarship, then at least I’ve proven to myself that I can write a good Personal Statement. I was hit by the divine inspiration I needed at 5am this morning upon receiving an email from my Professor, Judy Katz, at Juniata College where I studied in 2011, to say that she had submitted the reference. As I put in the reply to her, I couldn’t imagine submitting my application without a reference from her. She is the one who I will forever be indebted to for my love of Women’s Studies, which may have started in Lincoln but was definitely sealed into my heart during her Women & Literature class. There i learnt how to look at how women’s issues are reflected in classic and contemporary literature and how these applied to my own life, as well as writing autobiographical journals, which is really where this blog has its origins.

I’m on the train home now, and it’s overcast, although I see the sun and some blue sky trying to break through. I like the sun but today I’m working on 4 hour’s sleep, so I don’t mind the grey. I just need to stay awake long enough not to miss my stop.

I feel pleased to have my application in, not only because at least I have done what I can to make this dream happen now and my fate is with the Gods, but because now I see a clear path to the other uni assignments which are due, starting at the end of this month and finishing mid-December. After that I shall breathe a sigh of relief – before the next round of Life starts in the new year.

When Mascara Gets In Your Eyes

You ever wonder if you’ll stop making the same mistakes?  I do.  Although I doubt I ever will.  My priorities are all wrong, especially where men are concerned.

Tomorrow I have to go to London to hand deliver an application for a scholarship that I couldn’t get finished for various reasons before the postal deadline of today.  I have various things to finish off on the application myself, and I was awaiting a reference from one of my referees, who I hadn’t been able to get in touch with until today, but who promised me it would be done.  Therefore I  booked my train ticket in order that I don’t miss out on this opportunity, if I’m successful, to potentially change my life.

Now bearing in mind the postal deadline was today, you would have thought I would at least have everything I need to do done by today.  Not quite.  With everything that has gone on the last week especially, I’ve been unable to concentrate on getting it finished and have been avoiding it like the plague.  However, when it looked like I might be unable to apply due to circumstances out of my control (my referee not submitting the reference), I was determined that I had to get it in, no matter what.

Tonight I had already arranged to see my ex-boyfriend, who I split up with a couple of weeks ago.  It was always inevitable that we would separate, although I naively thought that would happen when I finished uni and left Lincoln.  We’re still on friendly terms though so had arranged to meet tonight.

So why didn’t I cancel this meeting with him, citing the need to get my application finished and printed and ready to take with me for tomorrow?  In my mind I figured I would go out tonight, then finish my application off when I got home, or else in the morning, since I’m normally awake at 5am.

Of course, he was late home from work by which time he called me to say it was too late for him to meet.  My make-up is all done but I’m still in my pyjamas as I couldn’t decide what to wear.  It was almost like something was stopping me getting dressed.  Like I knew it would be a pointless exercise.

So here I am, all made up and nowhere to go, with an important application form that needs doing.  I’m asking myself why I didn’t cancel tonight, because then it would have saved me from the disappointment.  I think the reason is because I am so desperate for a relationship I always put men before me.  I’m not disappointed not to be meeting him; I’m disappointed that I didn’t put myself first.

It’s a good job I’m heading to London tomorrow.  At least by doing so I may stand a chance of being able to go to Los Angeles to do a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies…and then find out why the hell I think and act the way I do.

The Art of Self-Sabotage

I’m sat here in the kitchen on this beautiful November day with the sun streaming through the window.  As I haven’t got my SAD lamp yet, it’s helping, but not really soothing how I feel right now.  Which is like my heart has been ripped out.

If you’ve ever had a bout of unrequited love, then you’ll know how much it hurts when you finally realise that your love will never be returned.  I wrote this short poem once:

It breaks my heart to know
That at the grand old age of thirty-two
I have never been in love.
I thought I was once
But it turns out I was mistaken
For you cannot be in love
If that person does not love you back.

The American Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, reads:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Anyone who has taken even one class in American Studies knows that even now, over two centuries later, this statement is not all it’s cracked up to be.  When it was written, “all men” meant all white men.  Not black men (or women), not even white women.  Not Native Americans.  The US has just elected its first non-white President back into a second term of office, so perhaps we can read the declaration as a little more accurate, but until the word “men” is removed I don’t think we can ever get that warm fuzzy feeling inside that everyone is equal.

What I’m getting at, is that the truth I held to be self-evident, was that this person was “the one” for me; the one I assumed I would eventually end up with, no matter how long it took.  The last few years I’ve been fighting with this issue, while growing into the person I’ve become; a confident, beautiful 30-something.  But the problem is, I have held that in my heart for so many years as a truth; how can I accept for so long that my heart was wrong?  I’m not the same person I was in my 20s.  I now have belief and confidence that I can be a great writer, that I can talk on the radio, that I can go across the sea to follow my other, American Dream.  The problem is that knowing you can do something and then actually doing it, especially when you suffer with depression, can make it impossible.

So back to the subject of self-sabotage.  I struggled over my late twenties/early thirties to know what I wanted from life and I came up with two realisations: 1) That I wanted to live and work in America. 2) That I wanted to be with him.  I always seem to put America first when I think about that, although perhaps that should have been the secondary dream.  Because now I know I have no chance for the second dream to ever be true, I’m struggling to get motivation together to go for the other dream.  Maybe because America feels like second best.

I realise how crazy this sounds.  I mean, I’m looking at going to the States to undertake a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies in Los Angeles.  How can this be second best?  It’s ironic actually that my dream of doing further study into women’s studies is being held up by the desire to be with a man.  A strange man, at that.  No, what I mean, is a man who is a complete stranger to me.

I glance at the printed copy of my Personal Statement and Study Research Objective.  I know I need to channel this sunshine into my heart and block out this hurt, at least long enough to get this application finished.  Maybe I’ll get the chance to go West, like so many before me, to find paradise; maybe I won’t.  But I know I need to rid myself of these chains that hold me here, in order that I can enjoy the rest of my life.  The city that has kept me down for so long will not be my home for too much longer.  Of course, I will come back and visit my family, including my gorgeous eight month-old nephew, Jamie, and friends, and enjoy the sight of the beautiful cathedral on the hill.  But I have never belonged here, and it’s time to accept that and search the world for the place I do belong.  To use my unalienable right given by my creator, to enjoy Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Apocalypse, Now

As I type this, I’m listening to The Doors’ The End, which for the film buffs among you will know was used during the opening sequence of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film, Apocalypse, Now.  Based on Joseph Conrad’s book, The Heart of Darkness, about European imperialism, Apocalypse, Now is set during the Vietnam War and is about America’s imperialism.  It also features a crazy army guy who thinks he’s a tribal chief.

Today I’ve had my own kind of apocalypse.  I had a conversation with somebody I should have had years ago, which I believe will finally allow me to move on.  I’m feeling a little numb, a little shell-shocked, but apart from that, I’m feeling positive.  The tears have fallen today, both pre- and post-apocalypse, and I’m expecting my make-up could be ruined yet again before the clock strikes midnight.  But the fog is lifting from my mind, and I can finally see the future rather than the past.

Anyway, I’ve switched off The Doors…I’m not really in the mood for Jim Morrison to start ranting about what he’d like to do to his family.  Instead, I’m now listening to Kristina Train’s Dream of Me, a song about how the life you want to lead will one day become the life you are leading.  The next song of hers to play after the ad break will be I Wanna Live in LA.  For me, the two songs are one and the same.

So I’ll finish this relatively short blog, and focus on what’s important.  The personal statement that will hopefully get me to LA next year.

Post-apocalypse, I only have one thing to say.  To quote Vinnie Jones in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it’s been emotional.

Sleeping Beautifully

I woke up today expecting a long, glorious Sunday ahead of me, as I had a long To-Do list.  When you’re a Lady of Leisure, you do get to sleep in a lot more than most people, but it’s still nice to sleep in on a Sunday.  Anyway, I checked my iPhone for the time.  Then I checked again.  It read 14:39.

I felt a bit like Marty McFly in Back to the Future.  1955?  14:39?  Seriously?  Yes.  Somehow, I’d gone to bed around 10pm on Saturday, got woken up by the Bish around 6am, then gone back to sleep until the middle of the afternoon.

I got up and my housemates couldn’t believe I had slept so long.  Even I couldn’t believe I’d slept so long.

I guess it’s been a busy week, after a stressful couple of weeks and I must have just been exhausted.  I still feel tired even now (nearly 8pm) although I have a feeling I won’t be getting an overly early night.

Our bodies have a remarkable way of telling us to take it easy.  Physical, as well as emotional strain can make us tired.  I obviously need to recharge and spend some time at home, rather than racing around from one place to another.  I check my diary ahead of a new week; another very busy week.  Jon Bon Jovi once sang, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.  I want to party when I’m dead, as I won’t have to worry about keeping on top of everything.  So for now, I shall try to keep on top of my sleep, like everything else.  Or else try not to be surprised when my body imposes a long period of sleep that encroaches on all the great plans I had for today.