I Won’t Be There For You…

A few days ago I read an article about an alternate ending that was trending online for the TV show Friends.  If you loved (or still love) Friends, you might want to skip this blog and return when I’m back to writing about the rest of my depressing life, because this theoretical ending ain’t gonna leave you with a fuzzy feeling in your heart for the New York gang that stole our hearts in the 90s.  

The theory goes that Phoebe is actually a meth addict and has basically spent ten years watching the rest of the gang from out on the street where she lives and imagining that she is one of them.  The suggestion, put forward by a fan, is backed up by the fact that during the show’s ten-year reign, Phoebe’s character told the others that her mother was a drug dealer, that she hung out with a group of friends behind a dumpster and that she was homeless.  

It’s a dark theory for a show that was primarily a decade-long romantic comedy.

  

If the show had ended in such a way, it wouldn’t be the first time a long-term and beloved sitcom was found to be purely the imagination of one of its cast members (spoiler alert!).  Roseanne, starring its namesake Roseanne Barr, was revealed in its final ninth season to be a story written by the character Roseanne Connor herself.  Some of the major plot lines, such as the Connor’s lottery win, never actually happened, and certain character aspects were changed; Roseanne’s sister, Jackie, played by Laurie Metcalf, was in fact a lesbian, not their mother, Beverley, and Mark and David, the boyfriends of her two daughters, Becky and Darlene, were actually switched and dating the other daughter.  

The meth theory in Friends throws a creepy shadow on the whole show.  Phoebe’s character is so eccentric and kooky, that it is quite believable that she could have spent the whole time cooking this up (excuse the pan, I mean pun).  Her major storylines, such as being a surrogate mother to her half-brother’s triplets, being in love with scientist, David, who lived in Minsk, and having an evil twin, Ursula, always seemed far-fetched, although in line with her bizarre personality.  So did the use of aliases such as Regina Phalange and Princess Consuela Bananahammock (can you imagine Rachel or Monica using these names?).  But thinking about them as being generated from the imagination of someone addicted to methamphetamine, they seem plausible.  To me, Phoebe always was the outsider and never gellered, sorry gelled, the way the rest of the ‘cool’ ones did. 

Thinking about this made me recall something that happened soon after I left school.  I had a group of around ten friends, and we were all outsiders.  A few weeks after we’d finished school for good, I met one of my friends and we hung out on a big willow tree in the village where I lived.  I remember being shocked as she told me that nobody really liked me.  To make it worse, she went through each so-called friend one by one, to say she doesn’t like you, and she doesn’t like you, and so on.  It was a bit of harsh reality for an already shy, unconfident 15 year old to hear, and in my view years later totally unnecessary, since it would have been easy for us all to go our separate ways now that we weren’t bound together by school lunchtimes.  

I am friends with one or two people from my old group of school friends  now, mainly via Facebook, but it took a long time before I could believe in those friendships.  The girl who was so hurtful all those years ago is not on my friends list, and would not be without a full and begging apology for her adolescent behaviour. 

It is this experience, together with my ability to imagine feelings from men that were never there, which leads me to believe in the potential for this alternate finish to Friends.  I feel such sympathy for Phoebe if this ending were to be the case; so meth-addled that she doesn’t know truth from reality, and probably wouldn’t command such sympathy from her “friends”, should they see her staring creepily through the window of Central Perk at them drinking their skinny lattes and double shot cappuccinos.  

The problem with endings such as this one, is that they do not leave you happy to walk away from a beloved series with a smile on your face and a sense of satisfaction and closure.  For anyone who’s ever seen David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, I was always too creeped out to walk away from the season two finale with nothing but gritted teeth and an accusatory how-could-they-do-that towards Lynch and his crew as I tried my best not to be permanently scarred by the final scene.  Twenty-five years later with the third season expected in 2016 or 2017 and I’m hoping they’re going to address that seriously bad choice of endings.  But Twin Peaks, a supernatural crime drama, with a penchant for its weirdness and strange characters, cannot really be compared with Friends, which on the whole was a show about six pretty normal people hanging out in a Manhattan loft.  

While I was a fan of Friends, I was always more of a Frasier lover.  I think perhaps the fact that the former was about a group of male and female friends, who were, let’s face it, the in-crowd of their own show, which made me uneasy.  Friends started three months after I finished school, which meant that I no longer had a big group of friends that hung out together and I certainly didn’t have any male friends until my mid-twenties, which was around the time that Friends came to an end.  

TV shows, like films and books, will always be an outlet to another world; a escape from real life, from our mundane and often uneventful lives.  As we get to know characters, especially those that are there with us week-in, week-out over years and in this case, a decade, we think of them fondly because we have lived their lives with them.  Their sadness, their joy, their laughs and their tears.  To imagine a different world for them, an alternate ending that leaves a bad taste in our throat is not what we want for the Dale Coopers of this world, let alone the Phoebes or the Rachels or the Joeys.  

Unless you have a DeLorean that is capable of rewriting alternate realities, we want to remember our characters just as they were thank you very much, in The One That Made Us All Laugh. Which episode was that? That’s right, every single one of them.  
Read the MSN article about the Friends theory here.

Come Rain Come Shine

Standing in the pouring rain under my umbrella the other day, waiting for my train to come, I contemplated the weather.  Saturday was boiling hot, but most of this week the rain has poured.  Today it looks like it is going to be sunny (and my iPhone confirms no rain forecast, which is good because my already-broken umbrella can’t take much more). 

My mood, like the weather, has been up and down lately.  The week before last, it was down, down, down. Trouble at work saw me in tears (at work) almost every day, and of course at home.  Last week was much better.  Some tears, but none at work.  

Why the sudden turnaround?  Well, the same reason it has always been. Last week I spent my evenings talking to a guy, having spent most of the Sunday chatting on the phone and via video Skype after meeting online.  

Last week the work issues that had been so predominant became less so, and my good mood was eased by having someone to look forward to chatting to in the evenings.  

We made tentative plans to meet Sunday, but of course I didn’t hear from him after Friday lunchtime.  Friday night and Saturday I had my own plans, so I didn’t think about it too much, knowing that we would finally be meeting on the Sunday.  The beautiful hot weather on Saturday lifted my mood even higher.    

But Sunday everything came crashing down.  Tentative plans are not good for me.  If I am supposed to have plans but they don’t materialise (with anyone, not just men) then I will find it hard to think about doing anything else.  As I woke up Sunday and checked my phone, I was disappointed not to see a message from him.  Determined not to be the one doing the chasing, I refrained from messaging him.  

But as the rain poured down outside, so did my mood, and I spent almost the whole day in bed.  Not that I have much choice in this matter anyway; my studio flat has one main room which has a double bed in it and not much else.  

At around 5:30pm, I finally sent a quick hi, which of course was ignored.  

Today I feel embarrassed and humiliated, for believing that a few conversations could have been the start of something.  But in my five years’ experience of Internet dating, this should be nothing new. 

I think the biggest realisation for me, was that no matter what I do to lift myself up, I will always let men drag me down further.  Last Friday I was so happy to have written a new blog post.  But the joy I felt was not as great as the low I suffered after a man I spent less than a week talking to decided he no longer wanted to chat.   

I know I have issues with both men and self-esteem, the two having been linked for most of my life.  I know that I need to put more effort into making my life what it should be, so that I can be happy alone, or at least get to a point where I don’t suffer as much at any kind of rejection from a guy. 

Today I was at risk of a really bad mood bringing me down.  Thoughts of another man who rejected me earlier this year still too raw, when I should be over it by now.  The bright sunshine has, ironically, watered down my bad mood and I feel calm stood on the platform with my coffee (it’s payday) at Clapham Junction’s Platform 6.  I have my broken brolly with me, a mirror of my broken heart, and a weapon to fight the bad weather.  I’ll buy a new one in the next few days.  An umbrella, that is.  My broken heart can’t be replaced the way my umbrella can, but perhaps I can take some inspiration from the fact that you can fight the rain with a broken umbrella, and you can fight future heartbreak with a broken heart. 

Come Back to What You Know

My first blog back at 33andlostinlife sees me borrowing a blog title from an old song by West Yorkshire band, Embrace.  I’ve had my ex-husband’s Cigarettes and Alcohol, a mostly 90s Indie compilation on repeat album mode for the last month, and this song is one of the eight that I lately squeezed onto a playlist of favourites.  

On 15th January 2015, I made a bold statement on this blog that I was going to set up a new blog and write much more positive blog posts.  That was a great idea, and still is, but have you seen any new, more positive blog posts?  No, me neither.  

Almost seven months later, I find myself even more lost in life than ever before.  A stressful week at work last week has left that boat rocking, and I’m feeling the need to abandon ship more than ever.  Of course, it’s something I should have done a long time ago, so perhaps it’s a good thing, but actually finding something else freaks me out.  

The problem is, I want to be a writer.  So I want a writing job.  Ideally I’d be writing a column in a magazine like Lucy Mangan but I’m nowhere near ready for that yet, and not quite as ‘outspoken’ as the girl born to Northern parents who lived in the South (the total opposite to me) who writes for The Guardian newspaper and Stylist magazine. 

My dilemma is whether to get a writing job of any sort, or just go for a normal admin job, but one that pays a lot more.  London has horrendously expensive living costs and while I’ve found sanctuary in my small studio flat and garden (Update: Bish is very happy and spends all his time outside with the exception of when this horrible August rain pours, which keeps him housebound and sees him taking over my pillow), I still have very little money (if any) left at the end of the month.  Whichever option I choose for my next job, the one thing I’ve struggled with is confidence in myself, and that stands like the Berlin Wall as a blocker to any future moves.  

Confidence to gain some work experience as a writer.  Confidence that yes of course I can do that £34k a year data role (and bag a £12k pay rise).  Confidence that I must summon from somewhere if I am going to get myself out of this rut I face and move forward with my life.  

I’ve been inspired lately by two people.  One is Aussie Natalie Imbruglia, former lovely Neighbour and 90s pop songstress famous for telling us it’s ok to be cold and ashamed and lying naked on the floor when the love of your life turns out to be a bit of a knob.  A recent article in the Evening Standard magazine tells how Natalie suffered with depression even during her most successful period, becoming reclusive.  18 years later, she says “Food as medicine.  And I feel great.”  I will second that, although I have a feeling she’s not talking about scoffing a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or Double Decker when she gets stressed.  Divorcée Natalie certainly looks fab at forty, and just as gorgeous now as she did back in 1997 singing Torn in those combats.  Her new album, Male, is out on 21st August.  Read her full interview here.

The other person to inspire me is fellow Northerner Danny McNamara, co-writer of 90s hit Come Back to What You know and lead singer of Embrace.  Writing his own blog in 2014, he tells how the inspiration for his songs comes from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Suffering a traumatic childhood incident that “was traumatic, terrifying, and…almost killed me,” Danny reveals how “it’s literally coloured everything I’ve done since.”  Suffering PTSD between the ages of 19 and 22, he suffered multiple panic attacks a day, wasn’t eating, sleeping and went down to ten stone (63kg) – not much for someone who stands at 6 foot 2 (187cm).  

He used songwriting to get himself out of the dark place he was in, and aged 44 he says he’s better now, not just well.  More importantly he’s still writing and recording with Embrace.  He spoke out about his mental health issues last year because he was inspired by others speaking out about their experiences.  You can read his full blog here

I can agree with that.  And I’m reminded that the reason I started this blog was to get some cathartic therapy from writing about my own experiences with depression.  But more than that: so that other people could read about them and perhaps not feel so alone and sinking in their own negative thoughts.

I was told my blog was depressing.  Well, yeah, it’s a blog about living with depression, dur.  And while I’d love to be writing shiny, happy blogs, I’d rather be writing depressing blogs than nothing at all.  I have done some writing during the time since my last blog post; I started a novel which got to about 20 pages before I shied away from it.  But I haven’t looked at it for months, although I keep thinking about picking it up again, and that’s a start.  

One of my uni lecturers gave me what really was the most simple piece of advice: you want to be a writer, then write!  Since discovering my ability to write in 2011, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I know it is my destiny (not my density…although it does weigh me down at times).    But writing with depression is hard.  Although not impossible, as many creative people, including Natalie and Danny, will tell you.  

So for now, I’m coming back to what I know.  I was the most prolific  in my writing than I’d ever been last year, until my living situation ground that to a holt.  I’m well out of that now, and the person that told me my blogs were depressing is no longer in my life (thank God).  I’m going to continue this journey as [insert age] andlostinlife, because it’s my journey, and my stats tell me there are still people out there reading it, almost daily.  That amazes me, considering there’ve been no new posts for over half a year.  But maybe those people passing through will stop by for a bit longer next time, and those of you who followed me before will continue to do so.  I had gained a good following, and not just my friends and family, who of course I appreciate their support, but fellow bloggers from across the world.  

I can’t promise what type of blogs will follow.  But if you don’t like what’s contained within them you are free to leave any time.  This isn’t Hotel California.  If you do, then come back to what you know.  Because I am.  

Come Back to What You Know – Embrace (1998)