Posts Tagged ‘telephone’

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last Christmas.

December 15, 2012

I remember when I started this blog that I would write quite lengthy, detailed posts about my personal life and about all of my feelings and experiences. This blog has been around for over 3 years and during that time my life has transformed in a lot of ways: I did a postgrad, started working in jobs I actually wanted, learned to drive and bought a car, entered a long-term relationship, moved to London and supported myself, moved in with my boyfriend… I made the decision not to talk about my relationship in too much detail because I feel that my private life is just for me and for Toby – but he informs everything I do now and is such a big part of me that every post on here, more or less, is influenced by him or concerns him to some degree.

Although I am certainly more mature and guarded about what I choose to post on the internet, sometimes I miss the honesty and openness with which I used to post. Sometimes, when I have dilemmas in my life, I find myself typing my question into Google in search of some advice. And sometimes I find some decent food for thought, whereas other times there’s just nothing sensible or nothing that quite touches the nature of what I am going through. But on those occasions where I do find something that can help me, through offering a kindred voice or shedding an alternative perspective on a situation, it’s really valuable. And so I have decided that in this post, I am going to be honest and talk about what is on my mind, in the hope that one day someone else might find my post and it might help them to know that they are not alone.

Yesterday I was speaking to my mother on the phone and apropos of nothing, she asked me that when I am in Bristol for Christmas, that I don’t voluntarily reveal the fact that I am gay and in a healthy, happy long-term relationship with my partner. The reason for this is that my uncle and aunt are coming up from Melbourne for the holiday to visit my grandmother. My cousin (my uncle and aunt’s daughter) has been living in Bristol with my grandmother for the past six months, and during this time she has demonstrated that she has grown up a lot from the irksome child and teenager that she was when I had previously met her. And yet the other day, my mother was having a conversation with her and my grandmother, and my cousin asks “how is Alan getting on with his flatmate?” Toby is my boyfriend, my lover, my partner with whom I share a flat – but he is so much more than my “flatmate” that I paused a little bit – because surely this is obvious, and my cousin (whose recent displays of emotional intelligence lead me to believe that she would have caught onto this) must know that Toby is my boyfriend. My mum then told me that my cousin has revealed in the past that my uncle (who has hitherto always been nice to me) “hates certain celebrity chefs because they are gay” apparently. And so, my mother has asked me not to volunteer any information about Toby to “keep the peace on Christmas Day” and to keep my grandmother happy, because otherwise relatives’ reactions “may cause a scene and my grandmother will get upset.”

What the fuck.

I am not at all angry at my mother for wanting a peaceful Christmas – it’s perfectly understandable. My mother’s side of the family is Italian (and therefore Catholic, although I wouldn’t describe them as religious with the exception of my grandmother who goes to church twice a week – but only since my grandfather passed away 5 years ago). But I have introduced Toby to my father (who has made crass comments about gay people in the past but has never been anything but welcoming of Toby and supportive of me in my relationship – I feel that his macho posturing isn’t really indicative of his views, which annoys me somewhat – why does he even need to act a certain way therefore? But I appreciate the fact that he is accepting of me) and everything has been fine – Toby has never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome in my parents’ home. My grandmother has met Toby a few times now and they get on ok too – neither is my grandmother stupid; she knows who he is to me, even if she doesn’t say it out loud. But here lies the crux of the problem – everybody knows, but nobody wants to talk about it. Everybody is actually fine with my sexuality, but everybody seems to think that they are the only “enlightened one” and that nobody else approves. So it remains a big open secret. Which to me is partly laughable, but also quite painful because I have absolutely no shame in having found a man that I love with all my heart, and having established a strong and secure relationship with him. Shouldn’t this be something that could be appreciated, if it’s too much to ask for it to be celebrated? Why do I have to keep quiet about the most positive (out of a range of very positive things in my life) part of who I am today?

I have always been the Beyoncé of the family, if you will. (Prepare for me to toot my own horn in the next couple of sentences.) Not only because I’m musically talented, but I am the only person on my mother’s side of the family to go to university, let alone to the University of Oxford and then on to achieve a postgraduate qualification afterwards. I am the only one who has successfully moved out of Bristol. I’m the slimmest and most fashionable out of me and my cousins. I have an interesting job which pays a decent wage (but more about that in another post, as I have an announcement to make!). I am 27 years old and I have done pretty well so far (with some wobbles along the way – but hey, that’s life right?). With all of this hard work (which was for myself, but it didn’t hurt that it pleased others also), it would appear that the fact that I am gay, that I happen to be attracted to men, and that I have now built a life for myself with another man whom I love deeply, resets everything. I will never be good enough, and no matter what I did or what I achieve in the future, I never had a chance at being “good enough” because of my sexuality, which is something I cannot control. I love being gay, I love Toby, I am very happy with my life and with myself (apart from the fact that I ought to quit smoking and that next year I am going to lose weight – but there’s a forthcoming post for that too because my musical goals and my aesthetic aims are going hand in hand in 2013).  And I can’t talk about any of it, because other people may react to it, and it may upset someone else. Well, it upsets me! What about that?

Back to the phone call. So my mother asked this favour of me. I fell silent, and I said that I didn’t know if I could do that – I certainly couldn’t promise anything. I know that she understands, and I know that she didn’t like asking, and I am not angry at her. But I am angry at my family because I am never going to be good enough, and I am not able to relax and completely be myself. I told my mother that I didn’t understand why I should compromise myself. It’s not natural for one to shout their gayness or their homosexual monogamous relationship upon entering a room – this is not my intention. But I am 27 years old, and I am not afraid of them anymore – I have built my own life, and at the end of the day, I don’t live in Bristol and I don’t need the validation of my family. It’s nice if I could feel comfortable with them – but if that’s not going to be a possibility, c’est la vie. I will choose Toby over them, if it has to come to it. I am sad that it might have to come to that – but maybe we can’t have everything. I have a lot, and that’s enough. But I refuse to be intimidated by small-minded, low-aspiring people. I don’t even really know if they are small-minded – this is all just rumour and myth. But after all – I’d better not say anything, just in case.

I want everyone to have a lovely Christmas day. I want Toby to feel welcome when he comes to Bristol, and the fact that he does perplexes me even more in light of this request. I don’t want my grandmother to be upset, and I don’t want anybody to cause a scene. But it’s not my fault if they cause a scene because of their own prejudice, surely? I don’t understand why I have to conceal, compromise and sacrifice my identity in the presence of people whom I see only occasionally, and who are my frickin’ family, so as not to rock a phantom boat. Am I being unreasonable? Because perhaps it’s not such a big thing to ask, for one day. But then, to me, it’s not really about one family day – it’s about me being denied the ability to openly be myself, to celebrate all of the things I have achieved and the precious gift of Toby’s presence in my life. He is wonderful, and I don’t see why I have to downplay this. I’m not going to shout it from the rooftops (though sometimes I want to! 🙂 ) because that would be unnatural, but neither am I going to lie about it because that is no more natural either.

This is bringing me to the sad conclusion that, whether or not a scene occurs, I feel like this will be my last Christmas in Bristol with my family, for at least a while. I don’t want to hurt my family by not celebrating with them, but at the same time I am an adult now, with the right to live my own life. (I can’t lie – it will be nice to actually not do a big travelling jaunt for one year.) I’m old enough to make my own decisions and to choose to stand my ground and enjoy my life in my own home. I have proven my worth time and again, and I now have the flat, the job, the relationship – the evidence to show for it. It’s not my fault that my family members may be insecure or jealous, and I don’t see why I should compromise myself to appease any inadequacies they may or may not feel. It’s not my problem. If I cannot be myself on Christmas day, then maybe next year it has finally come to the point where I’ve got to start making my own traditions, and if it means being by myself then hey – I’ll do it. I would never begrudge Toby going to spend time with his family, and maybe I would be able to join them instead. I don’t know – this whole situation has thrown me into a realm of “I don’t know”. What I do know is that I won’t lie, I won’t hide, and I won’t be ashamed. I am strong enough and secure enough to stand alone – I’d rather not have to, but if that’s the way it has to be then so be it. A part of me hopes I’ll be pleasantly surprised this Christmas and all these worries and postulations will count for nothing. I really don’t know what will happen – I am confident that I feel the right way about the situation, but I hope that I will have the grace and the presence of mind to react correctly and in a dignified manner to whatever situation arises.

I’ll let you know.

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community.

July 5, 2010

When I am on my driving lessons, my driving instructor (who lives around the corner from me and has done for the whole of my lifetime and probably many years prior to that) often points out people who he knows, chats about the various people who have lived and continue to live in certain houses and streets, and talks about life in Kingswood in general.  Most of the time, I can only nod my assent because I have no idea whom or what he is talking about; I only know the names and faces of the people who live within 3 doors of our house and across the road from it.  On the odd occasion that I am walking around the local area, I could quite happily walk past people who live on my street without recognising them.  This street is not and has never been a community to me; my town is just a place I live, and although it’s adequate (I like the fact that unlike other, more wealthy areas of the city, it doesn’t have a ‘grey’ atmosphere and I can see the sky – I’m not a total urbanite then!), I don’t feel any sense of community with the other people who live there; in fact, I feel like more of an alien (and with my dress sense, I look like one too).  I must add that I will stick up for where I come from, despite its chavvy, slightly dangerous reputation; I did get slightly offended by a comment made by one of the people on my careers guidance course at UWE; being a graduate of Spanish and French, I was asked “But in Kingswood, you don’t get an opportunity to practise your languages, do you?” This comment was accompanied by a smirk; I took slight offence because although it’s true that where I live is not a cultural hub and I don’t meet many people who are multi-lingual there, Kingswood is not formative of who I am.  Moreover, it’s not a bad place, and given that the area of Bristol that this person comes from is more renowned for crime and poverty than mine, it’s somewhat hypocritical and condescending.

Anyway, I went to Peterborough to spend the weekend with Toby last weekend, and I had a wonderful time, but I noticed that for him, life and his sense of community is different: he knows all of the people who live in his close and a lot of those who live in his village.  He went to school up the road from his house; he can point out many people in the photographs included in the local Parish News (I am unaware of Kingswood having a Parish News leaflet, or any kind of worthwhile community publication). It is interesting that I cannot do this.  I always went to school on the other side of the city, because my parents paid for my education and decided to send me to those schools (and based on my subsequent track record and academic success, I can’t quibble with their decision – it was pretty wise and with hindsight I would now have done the exact same thing).  When I went through a brief phase of playing with the family of girls who were my age and lived across the road from me, they had a group of kids who lived in the neighbouring streets as their friends: I knew none of these people because they all went to the same school down the road from our house; I went to a private school across the city.  We had different school holidays, different teachers, different friendship groups, different subjects.  In retrospect, that was most definitely for the best but at the time it felt like I had to work extra hard to fit in with them.  Despite living across the street, it was like I was visiting another world, their world, every time we would play together, and after a couple of years the visit wouldn’t be worth it, and we would just say hi without animosity as we occasionally passed each other on the street.

However, whereas Toby can name all of his neighbours and various people who live in his village (and I also understand that part of this is the difference between city / country-ish mentalities), I enjoy my popularity when I wander round the Bristol city centre – Mike commented once on a shopping excursion that it seemed as if I knew at least one person in every single shop (and there are a lot of shops).  This is an exaggeration of course, but not a massive one; I like shopping and I used to work in retail in that area, therefore my face is recognised in the area and I can recognise acquaintances who work there too. An amusing story is the Guess Boutique – whenever I go in the staff are extra-happy to see me because they still remember the time Toby & I went in and I fell in love with a bag that I could not afford; Toby & I left and I spent the whole of that Friday night babbling about the bag. Saturday lunchtime we returned to the store and I bought not only that bag that I had originally claimed was “too expensive” but also a hoodie to boot (it was on sale, there was only one and it was in my size, it was black and gold which are my colours – it was obviously fate so who am I to stand against destiny?). I don’t know if the staff there work on commission but I think that that day, they were very happy!  So I make friends in shops.  My friends who live in Bristol may have gone to school or university with me, but we came from all different parts of Bristol (and their experiences of commuting to find a community may be quite similar to mine) so urban centres, shopping districts, cafés and cinemas are our meeting points.

My point is, I have my own community of people whom I call my friends; friends are the family you can choose, as they say.  However, my friends are all dotted about the city (and beyond that, the country); the way we keep in touch is via telephone, email and internet most of the time; and when we want to meet in person, it’s got to be an arranged thing rather than a spontaneous wander down the road.  Although it can feel slightly isolating living where you have no real connection to anyone else in the immediate vicinity, it’s made irrelevant by the fact that I can speak to and arrange to see a lot of my friends within very little time; and that my friends are so, so good to me.  I think that having my own space is something that I value too; at the end of the day, I can retreat to my home and have a little time for me, safe in the knowledge that I’m not going to bump into or be harassed by anyone who knows me.  I can be anonymous, think independently, live as I choose without any fear of anyone whom I care about judging me. I know that in Kingswood, I dress differently, I wear different clothes, I speak and think differently to the majority.  I would never change that; I like being my own person and I won’t ever change to conform (a hard lesson that built my character during my school years). But it’s made easier when I’m surrounded by people with whom I have absolutely no desire to fit in. My community, the people whom I love and value, are my friends; my community is not local but instead city-wide, national, and one day I hope it will be global.

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surveillance.

March 18, 2010

Tonight, I got home about 8:30 after seeing Karina and talking about our love lives, her work, my uni, and other topics in between.  We had a really good time, and I ended up having a panini in Costa for dinner as I was hungry and it transpired that I was gonna be there until 8ish.  I called home during my time with Karina to let my mother know that although I wouldn’t be home late, I wouldn’t be having dinner with my parents as I was eating out.  Bearing in mind that I rarely am home to eat with my parents, but I let them know this every night (or they ask me in the morning prior to me leaving the house), this usually works fine and they respect me doing whatever I’m doing.  However, tonight as soon as I got in the door, my mother asked me for no apparent reason “is that all you’ve eaten today then?” Like wtf? Bearing in mind last week my mother practically called me a bulimic junkie, again for no logical reason, it’s getting on my nerves.  Nevertheless, I had to give her a rundown of exactly what I had eaten during the day, and then we debated whether I actually liked tuna or cucumber (because I had a tuna and cucumber sandwich at lunchtime).  I’m 24 years old, I pay rent to my parents (admittedly a token amount, but rent nonetheless) so in theory if I’m not eating at home, it’s more money in their pocket.  We have a good relationship, and I come and go as I please.  I’m tidy, I respect the house and clean up after my father where necessary (this has always been the case).

So one minute, they respect my privacy.  I appreciate this when it occurs, as I haven’t come clean about my current relationship (until it’s firmly established, I don’t see why I have to tell my parents about my sex life or my love life – it’s not their business. And to be fair to them, they don’t ask) and so the fact I don’t need to make up excuses about why I don’t get home most evenings before 11pm is a weight off my shoulders.  But then, the next minute they take that respect away with bizarre questions or requests for information about my private and personal life, and I feel like I’m a little kid again.  Am I respected as an adult or not?

Things have been intensified by the return of my grandmother last week from Australia.  Now, me and my nan have always been extremely close, and it’s pretty clear that I was both of my grandparents’ favourite grandchild (although the fact that my competition was halfway across the world in Australia meant that I did have an advantage).  My nan and I have called each other during the day and at night to converse, or at least to say hello or goodnight as appropriate to the time of day.  But now that I’ve been free of my nan for 3 months while she’s been in Australia, it’s hard to adjust back to this constant feeling of being under surveillance and having to answer questions on who, what, where, when and why.  I’m a pretty decent grandson – I’m 24 and I still visit my grandmother every week and spend time with her.  Most people my age (and a lot younger) barely see their grandparents except on special occasions.  I genuinely love her, feel close to her and treat her with dignity and respect, and so aren’t I a good grandson that I deserve some respect also?  I mean, I feel awful saying that because she does love me to pieces, spoil me and she does respect my intelligence but also the person that I am.  But she doesn’t seem to respect my privacy or boundaries, and wants to know every little thing I do.  I’m 24 years old, I’m a good grandson and a good human being, but I’m also a grown man – am I not entitled to my own life?

Talking to my friends, it’s apparent that I have to move out.  Not because any relationships are strained – I don’t believe they are.  I do my own thing, and the fact that my life seems to be clicking into place at last – career, relationship, driving, general happiness – means that I’m fast outgrowing my bedroom at home.  When I’m at Toby’s house, although he shares with 4 other people, it’s nice just to have the ease that nobody cares whether I’m in or out, what I’m eating, what I’m doing and with whom.  I guess that also, my parents and I seem to get on a lot better generally when I’m actually not here – largely because I don’t have to listen to their arguments (or “discussions”), and I have little chance of becoming embroiled in them.  I miss my grandmother, but I guess I’m really a man now – I handle my own business and I no longer need anyone else in my family to do that.  I have enough close friends, good friends, to whom I can talk about any problem or issue, big or small – for a long time, there’ve been things I didn’t want to discuss with my family, but now there’s nothing I feel I need to run by them.  And I guess I get confused when one minute, they don’t expect me to run things by them, couldn’t care less what I do and barely seem to notice my existence – and then the next, I’m guilty of some big crime (which I haven’t committed) without even being made aware of it.  I don’t want to be under this surveillance, and I feel that I’ve been a good enough son and grandson that not only does my family not realise how lucky they are, but I’ve earned respect and freedom, and the right to lead my life the way I choose without any repercussions.

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lady gaga & beyoncé – telephone. (video review)

March 14, 2010

At the end of 2009, I rated The Fame Monster at #18 on my year-end album chart.  Although I do stand by that chart and I don’t think I would really change any of the albums that are on there, in hindsight Lady GaGa would actually be somewhere in the Top 10 (possibly quite high up).  I didn’t think so at the time, but the funny thing about The Fame Monster is that it has hidden depths and its songs are actually really enduring.  What’s more, unlike The Fame, the songs are actually about deep topics such as domestic violence (“Dance In The Dark”), intoxication (“So Happy I Could Die”) and poisonous relationships (“Bad Romance”). I find it ironic that I’ve lambasted Lady GaGa for pandering to radio too much with her repetitive nonsense hooks (“p-p-p-poker face / papa-paparazzi / eh eh / ooh la la ga ga ro ma ma” and so on), but now I find myself appreciating her songwriting craft and finding her songs becoming more solid (although The Fame Monster is streets ahead of The Fame, so in a way I’m just acknowledging her artistic progression).  So I apologise somewhat for kinda turning off Lady GaGa and not giving her her due (although her fans / “monsters” are quite off-putting and need to be less militant), although if she could keep off the repetition of nonsensical syllables that would be good.  Because she doesn’t need to do that.

And so we come to “Telephone”.  The song is about suffocating relationships, and Lady GaGa herself has said that it doesn’t just have to be a romantic situation, but could also symbolise the fact that when her telephone rings, it’s always because she has to get back to work in the studio and she can’t escape that.  The song itself is pretty strong, although it’s not as progressive as some of the other songs on The Fame Monster and resorts to the 4/4 beat that has completely oversaturated popular music (and did so about a year and a half ago).  Beyoncé’s feature is a rapid-fire verse over double-time beats and keeps the song interesting.

The video for “Telephone” was released on Friday, and it has become something of a Pop Event.  The hype the video received even before its premiere was immense, and now it’s being hailed by some as the successor to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  Others however are lambasting it for its apparent sexism and overt lesbianism.  I read in one place that you will remember exactly where you were when you first saw it, and that much is true (at least for me).  I had just returned home from work, it was about 3:30 and after keeping track of the video reviews on Twitter, I decided to give into my curiosity.  Upon the first viewing, I was a tiny bit underwhelmed but could still see the video’s bad and good points (of which my view hasn’t really changed).  I thought that Beyoncé’s appearance far outclassed Lady GaGa, not just because Beyoncé has had some acting lessons but also because Beyoncé is more of an effortless star (not in reality, but she doesn’t look as if she’s trying so hard).  I detested the overt product placement of Virgin Mobile, Chanel & the GaGa earbud headphones – but all the kids are doing it; I just expected Lady GaGa to have more class.  But then why should she? It’s money in the bank, and when your video is 9 and a half minutes long, you need some bank to be able to make that video look and feel effective and powerful.

I’ve rewatched the “Telephone” video a few times now, and each time my estimation of it has gone up.  While not exactly on iconic level (I think it’s far too soon to be throwing that word around; GaGa has only been around for 2 years), it’s another demonstration that Lady GaGa’s commitment to her artistry is strong, defiant and interesting.  The introductory jail scene serves to debunk the rumours of GaGa’s intersex status (duh), allows her to wear a host of outlandish outfits (striped shoulder-padded body suit / yellow police caution tape / super-studded leather jacket and underwear covered in chains) the best of which is undoubtedly the cigarette sunglasses (still smoking!).  The fashion continues with the huge black tricorne hat GaGa sports upon being bailed out of prison; the shredded USA flag (subtle!) clothes in which GaGa and Beyoncé dance in the diner scene; the folded geometric telephone hat and telephone receiver hairdo GaGa wears on her head; the leopardprint body suit à la Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much”; the closing lavender and black body sheets… not all of these ideas work (on a couple of occasions both GaGa and Beyoncé look nothing short of horrendous – for some reason, in the USA flag bikini and bright yellow hair, Lady GaGa reminds me somewhat of Ken from Street Fighter and I can’t shake this association!), but they all capture the viewer’s attention, and more importantly they all leave you with something to say after watching the video.  That’s possibly “Telephone”‘s biggest success – it provokes thought and inspires discussion.  We know this because even the broadsheet newspapers are talking about it.

I stand by my statement that GaGa does seem to be trying awfully hard at being controversial and “artistic”.  She’s made a couple of great videos now, but in view of the numerous costume changes (see above), storylines and scenes, it doesn’t seem to come easily.  For comparison, where better to look than her costar Beyoncé?  For the definition of an iconic music video, look no further than “Single Ladies”; everyone and their mama has seen that video and knows the dance.  The video is in black and white, has no storyline or costumes (other than a leotard and metallic glove), is done in one take and isn’t even an original idea (see Bob Fosse’s choreography on youtube). Most importantly, Beyoncé did it almost as an afterthought to her video for “If I Were A Boy” (which in my opinion is a truly beautiful, excellent video) without breaking a sweat; and yet this is the video that captured everyone’s attention.  Now, of course Beyoncé is not anywhere near as effortless as she appears; but she makes it look easy.  GaGa does not make it look easy, and although it’s admirable that she’s so committed to the symbolism and artistic integrity she conveys (and GaGa is clearly an intelligent and talented woman), I’m scared that because the media and the fans are so interested in her image, her look, and what she’s going to be wearing that they forget that Lady GaGa is actually a singer and a musician – the most important thing should be her music.  Which, as I said at the top, is actually quite good and shouldn’t get lost in all of the surrounding gloss, however layered and substantial that gloss may be.  What happens when Lady GaGa can’t get any crazier?  What about when she wants to strip away all the layers and be more vulnerable and natural?  Will everyone turn away from her then, because they just wanted the fancy clothes and elaborate videos?  Can people not listen to her music, her lyrics without the accompanying visual?  I hope I’m wrong, because if not then that’s pretty sad.

The storyline, just as the lyrics of the song itself, can be interpreted in various ways and I’m not going to get into that here; I think that some of the reviews I’ve read have been hilariously in-depth and I think that GaGa is intelligent enough to play along in pretending to have input heavy symbolism into outfits, storylines and lyrics where there is none; people seem to need to have a meaning to every single thing, whereas I often think that GaGa is just having fun and being crazy.  Which is great!  It’s entertainment.  And the “Telephone” video is certainly entertaining; I hated the product placement, and I don’t feel that the use of the Pussy Wagon was necessary (the Tarantino homages are apparent, with elements of Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction included) – but then that’s just because I find the Pussy Wagon unfeasibly garish.  Which, in Kill Bill, was the point, and I understand that.  I really enjoyed Beyoncé’s homages to the “Paparazzi” video in her poisoning the teacup, Minnie Mouse glasses and hand over her mouth when they censored the swearing.  I loved the Japanese cooking-programme style of “Let’s Make A Sandwich”, and the dialogue between Gaga and Beyoncé was intriguingly half-cheesy, half-hard-boiled (although Beyoncé can somewhat act, and Lady GaGa really can’t – yet).  Tyrese and Beyoncé’s subtitled conversation, spoken with only looks and facial expressions, was genius. The Thelma & Louise-esque ending neatly gave closure to the video, but also made viewers wonder what was in store (that “To Be Continued…”) for next time.

Overall, I thought that the “Telephone” video was excellent, and I’m intrigued to see how the music channels edit it down to song length.  It’s a thrilling watch, and while I’m not going to pretend that it is a perfect video, I think that to compare it to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is unfair; “Thriller” is not even Michael Jackson’s best video by a long shot, and Lady GaGa’s video deserves to stand in its own right.  “Telephone” is furiously entertaining, and shows an artist coming into her own, even if at this point the numerous costume changes and persistent homages, product placements and edgy fashion poses betray an artist not quite comfortable enough in her own skin to exude her artistry naturally.  Once it becomes a little more effortless (as it has for Beyoncé, Madonna and all the other greats), that’s when Lady GaGa will be iconic and symbolic of a new musical generation.  But she’s well on her way, and I hope that the media, fans and public will appreciate that, because I myself am learning to, little by little.

ps. If only my “Bad Romance” video treatment had ended in a jail rather than in a mental institution, it would have led perfectly into the “Telephone” video!  Ah well, can’t win ’em all 😉

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self-control.

September 7, 2009

The past couple of days, I have been in various situations which have prompted me to think about the values of restraint and self-control.  Most of the time they are positive: I have a spreadsheet on my computer to track my evening snacking, and in the last 6 months I have managed to reduce my evening snacking to only 29% of a month (this is more difficult and more impressive than it sounds, believe me).  Restraining from this has complemented my gym regime and I’ve lost weight and toned up as a result.  I’ve been restraining from spending too much and buying too many pretty things because it’s only now that I’ve got money coming in again, and despite enduring desperate cravings for certain items, I realised that these cravings pass and I don’t need the things I think I need as much as I do.  (I am still getting that Gucci bracelet in the next month or so, make no mistake.) After wrecking my Nintendo DS during a bout of throwing a Naomi I have been making a conscious effort not to get so annoyed at Street Fighter IV on my PS3, and just taking a breather when I get frustrated.  I have been cutting down on my cigarettes only to preserve my voice, and it seems to be helping (or at least not getting worse), and I don’t feel quite as guilty.

Today at work, I seemed to be having a good day, working for my two bosses Cass and Kerry.  I was mainly helping Kerry today with endless spreadsheets, and I’ll continue doing that tomorrow.  However, Cass popped his head around the door after lunch and asked me if I could help him move some boxes from one room back to another (where they originally were, and where I moved them from right at the beginning of my job about 6 weeks ago). I felt sorry for him when he found out they had to go back, and it turns out that when I agreed to “help” him, I would actually be doing it by myself.  Fine, I said, I would go and do it when I came to a break with Kerry’s stuff, which I did.  I was barely physically able to move one of the cages full of stock (there were 6, Cass had told me there were 5) – Cass envisioned the whole task would take an hour or so, and then I could reload the cages once I was finished.  After 2 cages, the second of which I had to get a policeman to help me with when it came to pushing it up the slope towards its destination, I was aching and drenched in sweat.  And quite pissed off!  I couldn’t do any more, Cass had gone for the day so I couldn’t explain that the cages were just too heavy for me to physically move (and I am no weakling), and there was no way it was possible for me to empty them all before the end of the day, let alone fill them up with more stock.  (I am also quite confident that Cass did not fill up the cages himself, otherwise he would not have asked me to transfer them all within one hour, because he would have realised that that was an unrealistic and fairly dangerous demand!) I felt that I might let him down in some way (though I hope he will understand, he is usually very reasonable) and I hope that he knows by now that I am the farthest thing from workshy.  It’s just not physically possible for me to do, especially not within tonight’s time constraints.  Tomorrow if I have half a day to do it, and the cages are split into (much) smaller loads, it might be possible.  We’ll see.

In addition to this considerable irritation, I was trying to call my mother at work to get a lift home on her way back, since I was staying at work later than usual; it took me over an hour to get through to her work on the phone, and even then when her colleague answered the phone, he asked me to call back again in 5 minutes (I said no, and told him that I would rather my mother called me back – I think I had been calling that shop enough for one day).  So I was quite annoyed about that, although in both cases I know that nobody was deliberately at fault, and that I should keep my rapidly rising anger in check.  Somehow, I managed to do this, and me and my mum exchanged stories about our frustrating days on the journey home.  I bought 2 dvds at Tesco (Bride Wars & Notorious) and plan to relax with some chocolate Mars drink and good pudding (tonight will be a night where I probably will snack – I plead extenuating circumstances!) watching one of them.

The final straw tonight was when I got home from work with my mother, only to have problems deleting a message from our answerphone (which hates me); apparently, it senses my finger on the delete button and refuses to work, though I have witnessed my mother deleting messages and she does nothing different from what I do.  My parents both made a comment and I exploded, prompting my father to mock my “grumpiness”.  I stormed off (I was definitely grumpy, but there was no need to point it out – what do you think you are going to achieve by highlighting my bad mood?  Certainly not make me feel better…) and sat in the small computer room on the floor, and my mum came in and said that just after I’d left, he had done the same thing to her (her day had not been great either).  I didn’t have a massive explosion of anger, but there just comes a point where you can hold things in and hold things in and be aware of not pushing your anger or frustration or emotions onto other people, but just holding your tongue and taking deep breaths and dealing with frustration calmly and rationally… and it all spills out anyway.  Some people just don’t seem to realise that they pile burden on top of burden on top of you, and I’m not superhuman – eventually, after enough pressure, I snap, just like anyone else.  Is that a fault of mine?  Should I have more self-control?  Or is it an issue where I restrain too much and let things build up? When is it right to not say anything and deal with your issues by yourself for fear of upsetting or alienating someone else, and when is the time to speak up and say “I can’t take anymore”, before you explode?  How do you know when the right time to do that is?  In short, how do you predict when enough is enough?

As I said at the start of the post, although I recognise I have a temper (which developed due to Street Fighter and also due to various trying situations at the Perfume Shop), I am fairly good at controlling it, especially around other people.  But yesterday, discussing Jill’s death with my parents, I think I was the one who put my foot in my mouth.  I was asking about what kind of cancer she had died of – a reasonable question, I thought.  My mother didn’t know.  I found it odd that Jill’s husband, despite the fact he had spoken to my mother at least 3 times in the past couple of weeks and had asked her to pass on updates of Jill’s health to mutual friends of hers and my mother’s, had neglected to mention what type of cancer she was actually suffering from.  I understand people being private, especially in times of suffering and grief, but I thought that generally, people suffer from lung cancer or breast cancer or cancer of the womb or cancer of something.  If you say “She has cancer”, the automatic question is surely “cancer of what?” I found this weird that nobody seemed to know, and that Graham had not passed on this vital piece of information to my mother, especially if my mother was then supposed to inform other people herself.  And yet, my parents were both like “you don’t ask that kind of thing!” I understand not wanting to probe into someone’s grief, but I found it strange that the question had not been asked, and even stranger that my mother hadn’t been told in the first place!  Yet after our discussion, I felt like I was somehow unfeeling or tactless, and that I had said the wrong thing (my father’s sister also died of cancer – to this day, me and my mother know very little about it).  I guess that everyone deals with death in their own way, and I understand that grief is a private and individual process that not everyone wants to share or shout about.  But I don’t understand people not asking basic questions; I later spoke to my mum about it and she said that I hadn’t upset her at all, but that as you get older, you learn more and more as you get older not to disturb others’ fragile emotional states.  I understand this already, but I just don’t know the rules about what you talk about and what you don’t talk about in times like these.  If we don’t speak up and ask questions, even about fragile or poignant situations, how do we become better informed? Is it more respectful to be silent and remain in ignorance? Is restraint really the better option in this instance?  I don’t get why people don’t talk about these things.  If we did, then maybe it would clarify, if not ease the grieving process / understanding of exactly why Jill died.  So I don’t really know at all just how much restraint or self-control is a good thing after all.

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communication.

July 23, 2009

Certain situations lately have been making me think of the “Communicate” interlude from TLC’s Fanmail

“Communication is the key to life
Communication is the key to love
Communication is the key to us

There’s over a thousand ways
To communicate in our world today
And it’s a shame
That we don’t connect

So if you also feel the need
For us to come together
Will you communicate with me?”

We have so many avenues of communication open to us nowadays: face to face, email, telephone call, text message, blog, vlog, instant messengers, chatrooms and forums, twitter and social networking… It’s so easy to keep in touch with people (and now I can do it all on my beautiful Prada phone, more or less!) that it’s almost overwhelming choosing the method of communication.  Do you text, email, write a letter, call on the phone?  Different people suit / prefer different methods, and some are more anonymous while others are intimate and suggest more effort and attention.  A situation last night occurred where I sent a text message to B to see how he was, and he didn’t reply because his phone was on silent… meanwhile, he sends me a message on a different, completely unrelated site asking me how my day had been and everything! I was touched that he thought of me as much as I of him… but it was a bit frustrating that there are so many avenues of communication open to us that it is almost a problem to remember to be consistent!  You can hit me up on twitter, myspace, vox, last.fm, facebook, on my cell (well, if you have my number 😉 ), email, msn… how do people choose?  And is it not surprising that problems occur when we don’t check all of these different places for messages every day?
The other thing I quickly wanted to address tonight is why I am writing this blog.  In my introductory post I was in a bit of a crazy mood and I was being inspired by Bai Ling‘s insanity… but now I realise that that is something special that cannot be duplicated!  As fun as it sounded at the time, I don’t really think I am into aping Bai Ling (well, not often). And surprisingly, I have my own things to say! I’m touched that people are taking the time to read, be it my views on relationships, the internet, sexuality or just life, and the music reviews and videos and downloads I post for you all. 🙂  It’s thrilling that I can share myself so openly with you all, and I’m touched that you are all reading it and keeping up with me! I hope that you keep coming back because at the moment I still have plenty to write about (how’s that for tempting writer’s block! 😛 ) and I have lots of music-related stuff in store also. 😉 At the end of the day, this blog allows me to communicate in a more full way than twitter (my other current favourite avenue of inet-based communication), which is definitely great for on-the-go updates of where I am and what I’m doing… but this blog here allows me to expose my thoughts and communicate with you all on a deeper level.  Thankyou for listening, and please don’t hesitate to communicate with me, however you prefer.
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pride.

July 9, 2009

Pride is a funny thing.  On the one hand, we are taught it is a bad thing to act too proud, and we should aim to be humble human beings who are never too busy or too above our station to help out our fellow man or take a little time to do whatever.  But at the same time, we should also be proud of our achievements and who we are, and never lower ourselves or do anything that is genuinely beneath us.  They are both sentiments I agree with wholeheartedly, but they also seem to contradict one another and I don’t know exactly whether pride is a bad thing or a good thing. I like to think it is a good thing, because an overdose of pride to me is arrogance; just enough pride is when you are aware of your worth and what you should and shouldn’t do.

Another thing that people say is that “pride comes before a fall”.  I haven’t experienced exactly that, but today I went to visit my grandmother after a depressing morning at home which culminated in my receiving a phone call that was for my father (I am the house receptionist, after all) and my father asking where the phone was.  I stormed out of the house after quickly making myself fit for public consumption, and went to see my nan to talk to her about the current state of play regarding my uni funding (it looks like I may not get any after all, though if I do get it it will be like hitting the jackpot! But I’m sure I’ll expand upon that situation in due course, and there is nothing I can do for the moment other than wait and see) and to de-stress.  While I was there, she gave my some great advice about the job situation, but advice I didn’t really like at first: why don’t I get Jobseekers’ Allowance (aka. unemployment benefit) until the hospital pulls its finger out and gives me some hours like they promised?

The reason why I didn’t really like the idea at first was because I didn’t want to be lumped in with people who don’t ever bother getting a job but just live off handouts from the dole.  I didn’t want to feel I was lazy, and I don’t like accepting charity.  But then, as my nan gently explained to me through a couple of anecdotes from her own life, I was being too proud and I should accept something that I am currently entitled to, especially as everybody else in my position does so and more.  And I realised she was right.  I researched JSA when I got home and went online, and it’s £50 a week.  That is a considerable amount of money that would really help me!  So I have applied and am waiting for the Jobcentre staff to call me (within the next 2 days, apparently).  Fingers crossed!  Perhaps it will be a karmic trigger and something will cause the BRI (hospital) to call me Monday and say they have finally got some hours and want me to come and start working at the job I have been waiting on for a month now.

I generally wouldn’t characterise myself as a proud person – I don’t feel I am at all snobbish, and I am open to talking to and interacting with anyone regardless of their appearance or their walk of life.  I think I am friendly and I am willing to help anyone who genuinely needs my help.  But in this instance, I realised I was being proud (the bad definition) because I was essentially thinking that I was too good to be claiming this benefit.  And that brings to mind another saying: cutting my nose off to spite my face.  There is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and your achievements, and rightly so – but I was today reminded never to be too proud to accept help when you need it and when it is available to you.