In need of a redesign since 2011.

Monday, 29 July 2013

My left hand is spasming. I don't want to be resting up for work, I want to be writing. I want to spend every minute working on outliving myself. There are caves where you can hear and see the northern lights sing. I know this is true. Just like I know that if you hold your breath and step sideways, if you do it at just the right angle, you can go somewhere different. People at work keep telling me how intelligent and creative I am, and I keep telling them it's a shame that doesn't matter here, it's a pity that doesn't help. The surface of the moon and the ocean floor are the same place, and both have deep and heavy lakes full of terrors. I was tired five hours ago. I should have slept then. Instead I want a pen and paper bedsheets, instead I want to keep going until something worth saying falls out of my hand, until I can fall asleep knowing I'll respect myself in the morning, until I can tell the imaginary Neil in my head what I've come up with and imagine him smiling in imaginary pride. "Not a bad start," I imagine he'd say. "Now actually write it, and you'll really have something." Damn you, imaginary Neil. You're always right. My last resting place will be beneath a willow tree. I know, but don't know how I know. I hope there will be a bridge at least, and someone to lead me across.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Hipster fashion

I don't have a problem with hipsters, first of all. I long ago realised that 'fashion' as a concept wasn't for me, but I don't want to intrude on anyone else's fun. Or what passes for fun when you're too cool to publicly emote. If you want to wear skinny jeans, leggings with elaborate prints on them, thick-framed glasses, t-shirts featuring animals that also wear thick-framed glasses – well, fair play to you. Well done on the impressively swoopy hair.

It is bewildering, though, isn't it? The way one particular style starts to pervade the media until an entire era has a definable Look. In the same way that some photos are instantly recognisable as being from the seventies, the images we're churning out in advertising and posting online all scream “I was taken in the twenty-tens!”, and there's nothing you can do about that. The very cut of your fringe betrays you.

I think what bothers me most is that people don't realise how temporary it all is. Twenty years from now, when aesthetic circuitry is the big thing, you'll still have a moustache tattooed on your index finger. Forty years from now, when fabric can be programmed to display whatever you dreamed about last night, you will still have a moustache tattooed on your finger. That doesn't bother some people, but I like the fact that some tattoo artists will only ink unique works. If you already know three people with a particular design, like it or not, you're joining a club. What would the club of people with moustachioed digits look like, I wonder? Would you want to be a part of it?

There's been a lot of debate over what exactly makes someone a hipster, and because humans can't cope with there being more than two kinds of people, I've helpfully decided where the line is. You're welcome. The schism is as follows:

Anyone who gets conspicuously, publicly excited about their interests is a geek; anyone too cool and reserved to do so is a hipster. There's a distancing from the moment in that attitude that's actually pretty sad, and more held back than laid back. If you're tempted to say that you preferred a band's early work because the alternative is to appear happy or unhappy at the music entering your earholes at that exact moment, you've detached too much.

I think you'll find a comments section below, if you want to say that I don't know what I'm talking about, and lord knows you'd be right to. I'm no expert. I'm just a victim of the times, like everybody else. It wasn't intentional - I'd been looking for non-skinny trousers for months, and eventually gave up. I bought the first tolerable item that looked like it would cover my legs, only to check the label after purchase to find that I was now the ashamed owner of a pair of jeggings.

That's how fashion works. It gets everywhere, until you have no choice but to succumb. I have girl boxers with bowler hats and monocles on, and I'm not sure I could tell you why; only that it seemed the least abhorrent option at the time.

And so the symbols of our time continue; repeating, duplicating and mutating, until every surface in sight is covered in owls with moustaches.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Why I Selfied

For Jill, because she was interested.

"And I'm a million different people from one day to the next" - The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony
Between the ages of 17 and 22, I took a lot of selfies. Hundreds. Probably thousands, although a mere few hundred ended up online. How very restrained I was. (Of course, they weren't called selfies then, and all this was fields.)

Why was I so obsessed with my own image, and with other people's reactions to me? I've given a lot of thought to this, because that is the kind of person I am. I do very normal things, then give a lot of thought to them, as if that somehow makes them worthy and important.

Many would say that it was vanity; the more perspicacious might say it was insecurity. I think it was both and more. I think that those years, late teenage and early twenties, mark the baffling, peculiar, and mercurial stage in which one looks like a different person every day.

This is undoubtedly true of one's childhood, too, but now the world is treating you like an adult. Suddenly you're considered ready for responsibility, for attention, for catcalls and compliments. When two different strangers can, within the same week, shout that you're ugly and beautiful respectively, we should not be surprised that people want to know what's happening that could provoke these responses.

So, we document. We try new hairstyles, new outfits, new angles; but instead of waiting for the opinion of a random on the street, we put them online and mentally chart the likes.

My peak of selfie-taking was probably age 19. My life got suddenly fuller, days packed with new experiences, and I never felt the same from one week to another. This was reflected, it seemed, in my reflection itself. Every time I got the camera out, I found that I looked less or more grown up than I expected, sometimes slimmer, sometimes lonelier, sometimes happier. I was in a long-distance relationship, which provided the perfect incentive (alibi?) to send photographs, and every one was a surprise to me as much as my intended. I was an adult now, who knew?

And why was it that I never saw what I expected? What is the strange dance we do with our self-esteem that prevents us from getting a reliable read on how attractive we are? (That's a whole 'nother blog post, I suspect.)

I still look like a different woman every day, but as the woman in question is merely getting older and fatter, I forgo the photos. That era has passed, for me. I'm done taking selfies. I don't see that changing, as I don't want to see myself changing any more. Maybe one day I'll be glad to have these to look back on, but they're not exactly things to show the hypothetical grandkids, are they?

Who knows. Maybe by then I'll be too old and too wise to be embarrassed of my fascination with my own changing self.