Solo Flight

A few weeks ago I won a pair of tickets to see American Singer-Songwriter Ryan Adams (not to be confused with the ever-so-slightly-more-famous Canadian-singer-songwriter-Bryan Adams) at the iTunes Festival. In case you haven’t heard of it, the iTunes Festival is held every September at The Roundhouse in Camden, London, and showcases around fifteen or twenty musicians during the month. iTunes gives fans the chance to win tickets for as many artists as they want. This is the fourth year I’ve entered and finally won tickets. I can’t help wondering if this is because I am actually living in London now.

Despite my joy at winning tickets, I had a job of trying to get anyone to join me. My close friends were all busy, so were work colleagues. I resorted to a general Facebook post offering the free ticket, but while some of my American friends would have jumped at the chance (especially my friend Mark who has seen Ryan in concert twice), the Brits were slightly less inclined to go. In the end, the guy I’ve had a few dates with said he would go, despite having declined previously.

We arranged that I would head over to his place first and that we would go to the concert from there. Due to the engineering works taking place in both Twickenham and also further north, it took me over an hour and a half to get to his place, half an hour longer than it should have done. After indulging in what two consenting thirty-somethings would do, I asked him what time we would need to leave to get to the concert. To which he replied, “Sweetie, I’m not going to the concert.” I stormed out.

While I have no problems doing stuff on my own, since I have travelled overseas on my own and even been to concerts abroad alone, I was rather pissed off at having to go to the concert by myself, especially after what had happened. I had been expecting to go alone since it wasn’t looking like I would find anybody, but having somebody offer who then had no intention of going really pissed me off.

Although I am angry with him, I am more mad at myself. For many years I have met guys and rushed into intimacy in a blind bid to find “the one”. But of course I always end up feeling disappointed and used, metaphorically “lying cold and naked on the floor” to borrow words from Aussie songstress Natalie Imbruglia.

The main problem is, when this happens, my self-esteem plummets. I feel like I will never find someone, and ask myself why does nobody ever want a relationship with me? The truth is, it is very rare that a great sexual encounter will lead to a relationship. I do know of a couple who are expecting their second child after a one-nighter at a party (well, not after that party obviously…you know what I mean). But sadly they are the exception; because most guys just don’t want to know after the deed is done.

Despite going on my own to the gig, and being stood behind a lovey-dovey couple (which is enough to frustrate me on a good day) I really enjoyed the concert, and I’ll be listening to a lot more of Ryan’s music in the future.

Recently, on the way to work after a very bad morning, I stood at the train doors waiting for them to open at my station, and it occurred to me that what those people waiting on the platform were about to see was my very grumpy face. I realised I didn’t want them to see that, and so I made an effort to put a big smile on my face. And you know what, it really did make a difference; I felt so much better. So lately, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to smile, especially when I feel like crap.

Last night I had a counselling session (which was good timing) and then I met a friend at Oxford Street. On the bus I reapplied my make-up after my tearful appointment to make myself look and feel better. Using my recently-discovered ability to smile through the pain, I made a concerted effort to put a smile on my face as I entered Debenhams to meet him. As I greeted him, he still commented on how thoroughly fed up I looked. So despite my best efforts, neither make-up or a forced smile were enough to hide the glumness I feel at this latest dating disaster.

I guess a still have a long way to go in not allowing my relationships with men affect my mood and my self-esteem. Last night with my counsellor I made a list of the qualities I want in a man, as well as some ground rules for dating. While I have no intention of going back to internet dating anytime soon, the difficulties in meeting someone the old-fashioned way make it likely that I’ll be back online within a number of months. Armed with my list and instructions on what not to do, hopefully I can navigate this minefield a little better and without setting myself up for situations in which I only end up getting hurt.

I wasn’t going to make this a music blog, but since it’s partly about Ryan Adams, I feel I want to share at least one of his songs. Come Pick Me Up was the last song he played as part of the two-song encore. It’s about getting hurt yet going back for more. Which I think sums up this blog.

Come Pick Me Up – Ryan Adams (2000)

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You Can Call It Another Lonely Day…

As I get older, I have begun to realise that life doesn’t necessarily have a set plan for you. What you once believed to be a truth now becomes not a lie, but an untruth. Perhaps it was never to be believed, but it’s all to do with your perspective, and how you see things. Sometimes you have to take off the rose-tinted specs. And then place them in the bin. No, retrieve them from the bin, and stamp on them until the pinky glass shatters to a million different pieces.

I once wrote a blog about a trip to Italy, where I had gone to see my favourite singer, Eric Martin, play a gig. Travelling at the time of the ash cloud, I was stranded in Venice for a few days. This took place a few months after I separated from my husband, and I was searching for that one person who eluded me. It has taken me a long time to realise who that person was.

It was me.

Sitting in the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice, faced with being exiled in another country indefinitely, I heard Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way, and took that to be a sign that I was at least on the right path.

Last year, one of my housemates had left his Fleetwood Mac greatest hits CD in the kitchen. Never one to miss an opportunity, I opened up my laptop and imported it into my iTunes.

The first song on the album is Go Your Own Way. While the song still holds that powerful suggestion to me that you can go your own way, literally that you can choose your own path, having listened to the album over and over, I realise that the song does in fact have a completely different meaning:

If I could, baby, I’d give you my world
But how can I when you won’t take it from me?
You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it another lonely day

As readers will know, the last few years have had a heavy focus for me on finding a relationship. At times when I should have been studying, I’ve been so wrapped up in a guy that my focus was never on what I should be doing. And I asked myself, how can I give you my world if you won’t take it from me?

What becomes clear, as I sit on the National Express heading North, is that Ishould have been asking myself why I won’t take the world that is being offered to me?

I’ve had the opportunity to go to university, to study abroad, to live in another country, to travel extensively and to live in one of the biggest capital cities in the world.

Yet I am faced with spending Christmas Day alone. The fact is, I have no money, as debts have built up since I finished university and made the move to London. I haven’t managed the little money I have had well, which has resulted in more debt and finally running out of money the week before Christmas. But this is nothing new. I have always taken the view of money that “you can’t take it with you.” Well that’s to be applauded, but I also realise while I am on this earth that it’s difficult to live for free. You can’t be ruled by wealth, true, but I know from experience how hurtful it can be to have nothing. But it is always at the times when I want to show those people who have supported me throughout the year, how much they mean to me. This Christmas, I have run out of money, and I can’t afford to buy some of my closest family the presents I want to get them. Some I have even had to say I will give you yours when I get paid on the 30th December. How shitty is that.

Yes, it’s been a tough year for me money-wise. But it’s not like I haven’t had a roof over my head, or food to eat. I have treated myself to clothes or shoes or a coffee because, to justify it to myself, I need to treat myself.

Otherwise I will get nothing.

I wish I could say this is the first time this has happened, but it isn’t. Many, many times before have I been in this situation. Penniless, at a crucial time of year, because I have mismanaged my money for the other twelve months.

This year I want this to be the last time I have to worry about money. By Christmas 2014, I want to be financially stable.

The last two New Year’s Eves have seen myself and my housemates host a house party, and this year will be no exception. The first year, on New Year’s Day, we wrote our resolutions for the forthcoming year and sealed them in an envelope. Last year, on New Year’s Day, we opened them, cringed at the resolutions we hadn’t kept, and smiled proudly at the few we had.

My resolutions for 2013 wait patiently in an envelope in my bedroom. I know, before I even open it, that I have achieved few of the ten aims I listed last year. Sadly, I know that this New Year’s Day will see me listing many of the same once more. But next year, I must change. Because I’m swimming round in circles and getting nowhere fast.

In 2014, I want to be financially and emotionally stable. I want to look back at the pages and pages I have written and know that I finally got over that block which has crippled me, particularly over the last six months.

In 2014, I want to go my own way, take the world that I have within my grasp and make it my year.

You Can Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac (1977)

Blogger’s Note: This post was originally written on the afternoon of Friday 20th December 2013.

Urgent Request For Back-Up!

The last two months have reminded me of how fickle technology can be.  Right now, I can exchange messages with someone halfway across the world, I can publish my thoughts and feelings for everyone to read at the push of a button and I can research just about anything in seconds.  But technology does have its failures.  Anyone who has done an office job that involves use of a photocopier knows that the blasted things break down on at least a weekly basis.  If I could invent a photocopier that didn’t, I’d be a rich woman.

Back in December, I was on campus and decided to utilise some free time I had to work on an assignment.  Being efficient, which is not usually like me at all, I had a USB stick to hand so that I could save my work and take it home with me.  After spending a couple of hours working on the essay question, which troubled me anyway because I had struggled with my research for this particular question, I got out my USB stick yet could not find anywhere to, er, stick it.  Nothing on the monitor, nor the keyboard.  These were new computers, and the desktop boxes that used to be there were gone.  Eager to get the hell out of the library and get home, I saved a copy to the desktop and emailed it to myself.

Upon my return home, I had dinner then resumed with the question.  Around 11pm, I finally finished it, and with great delight, I took myself off to bed, safe in the knowledge that the next day all I had to do was to print it, and submit it to the Faculty Office.

The following morning I met a friend for coffee, and on the way home, since I had time, I decided to do some Christmas shopping.  Arriving home about an hour before I would need to leave to go deliver my paper, I was finally feeling the Christmas spirit.  Sadly, it would not last.

My completed assignment was nowhere to be found.  I had the first question, previously saved to my hard drive, but all that could be found of the second question was what I had done in the library, not the finalised piece of work, which composed of the rest of question two, merged with question one.  I called the IT Helpdesk, who, after some instruction, told me that it obviously was not saved.  After putting my head in my hands, I emailed my tutor to make him aware that I would miss the deadline.

What I realise, is that upon opening the email at home, I must not have saved a copy to my computer.  Schoolgirl error, that having been something that occurred many times, not just to myself but to others during the twelve years I worked for the National Health Service.  My tutor knew of the difficulties I have had with my depression and told me not to panic, that we would submit a form for Extenuating Circumstances in the New Year which would give me more time to re-do the assignment, leaving me free to concentrate on the remaining assignment due that week.

Before you ask, no, that piece of work could not be found!!  I had IT experts and all sorts of people suggesting places it may be, but it had vanished from the face of the earth.

So, at the back of my mind, I knew I would have to re-do the paper.  What I didn’t count on, however, was my external hard drive finally giving up the ghost last week, and losing all my documents from the last three years, including all my assignments, including those I did whilst studying abroad (which were some of my best work) and many pieces of my creative writing.

Compared to losing a couple of hundred words, I have now lost what I see to be my life’s work.  The IT helpdesk were able to retrieve some photos, music and videos, but no Word documents, with the exception of the iTunes User Agreement in about 19 different languages.  My hard drive is now with a friend, who is going to see if it is at all possible to retrieve any of my documents, although I take this to be a long shot, much like my application to the Fulbright Commission for a scholarship.  I can hope but right now I’m not expecting too much.

An email from my tutor today has confirmed that I will need to re-do the whole paper if I want to pass this class.  I have now gone from having to re-write a few hundred words to re-writing the entire paper.  Ironically entitled American Dreams, American Nightmares, its title is an ironic reminder of the complexity of life.  And perhaps a reminder that I should be grateful when things don’t go too horribly wrong.  Because, as I always used to say when I worked for the NHS, the one thing you can count on is that things can always get worse.