Wednesday, 30 January 2013

A1: S14 - Selfish and Proud

One thing which frustrates me beyond anything - the thing which also seemed to irritate people most about me returning to Uni as a completely changed person, is the way I choose to dress my body and my face.

I've always been a borderline insufferable drama queen and have taken boundless joy in being incessantly decadent. At the start of sixth form when I began to dress and present myself a little differently, that's when people started to actively dislike me because I chose to change the way I looked. I guess they saw me as 'choosing to look different' for the sake of being different, being fake and pretending to be something that I am not. But to me, I chose to look like what I found beautiful. Like I touched upon in my previous post, most aim to be the best person they can be, and in conjunction, most make the active effort to look as attractive as they think they can be.

But these ideas of attraction and beauty are different to every individual person. For me, my ideal beauty icons are golden age Hollywood screen icons. Marilyn Monroe, The Hepburns, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Sofia Loren, Brigitte Bardot... I could go on. This, with the indie and alternative dress sense that I fell in love with, made people hate me. But that I could deal with because I was happy with the clothes I wore and the looks I tried to emulate, because I felt inspired. Why would I want to buy carbon copies of outfits that these chain clothing stores churned out in the masses, that ten other girls would wear at the same time to the same place? When instead I go could go to a charity shop or vintage store and pick out something entirely unique, which instead of being one new clone item of a style copied by hundreds, it was one lone item with no siblings or imitators, that had been passed down and worn by countless others. I think there's no choice there at all. I am not like other people, so why should I force myself to put on the disguise of a normal human to fit in? Surely that would truly be pretending to be something I'm not.

 For me, vintage clothing encapsulates my two greatest curiosities and fascinations; art and history. When I returned here for my second year, Jasper of the Interesting Boys showed me the most spectacular place on earth. He himself being a man with a love of the well-dressed and a passion for antiquity, I feel he was exactly the kind of person I'd been searching for when I was at my impressionable state in first year, but never quite found. I'd come to Uni in first year with a pretty firm idea of the life I wanted to lead and the person I wanted to be, but I found that the friendship group and life that I quickly fell into when I arrived did not give me space to do that, and I was swallowed by this new, weird life. This place he showed me was called Fleetville Vintage Emporium.

Now I'd frequented the charity shops and vintage stores all over my town at home, but none of them could quite match up to being as incredible as this place. To this day, when they smile at me when I walk in and they know my name, it still does not cease to impress me. This is where the final incredible thing happened to me, which not only affirmed my belief in the way I look, but also that it was time for me to finally create a blog.

With the change of degree, I'd started this year with one of my film studies modules being Classic Hollywood. There's barely words to describe just how in my element I was. This sent my passion for vintage spiralling out of control, and I began to dress even more eccentrically, searching for really obscure items to start wearing, one of which, was a pair of white lace gloves. I'd just found them and bought them, and was standing in the Emporium by the tills, admiring them on my hands when I heard a voice.

"May I ask dear, how old are you?"

I looked up to see the woman behind the till surveying me.

"I'm nineteen." I smiled.

"I'm curious," She said, "How does someone as young as you become so interested in vintage? We don't get many young people in here you know."

I gave her a smile and looked down at the gloves, and I told her.

Because it's just so incredibly fascinating, isn't it? You can step inside that shop and you can feel the presence of history and life thrumming through the air like electricity. There must be thousands and thousands of dresses, coats, skirts, trousers, hats, jewellery and miscellany in there, and they all belonged to thousands of different people with different lives. They were all worn by different bodies, handed from person to person, by friends and relatives, and somehow all ended up in that one shop, right there together. Those two coats on the rail next to each other there, the one on the right may have been worn by a single mother in 1967, struggling to pay the mortgage because her diabetic husband had died in a car accident, leaving her alone and pregnant. The one on the left was worn by a sheep farmer in Bristol in 1983 who lived a humble life with his doting wife and two children in a little cottage, with a dog named Skip and a lazy cat who'd always bring in dead birds and leave them on the porch. The only times those two lives would ever cross, would be their two coats that they'd both once worn, hanging next to each other on a rail in a vintage store, fifty years in the future. Think about all the clothes you've loved and had to throw out, and just marvel at where they could be now.  There's even the possibility that that pair of trousers over there were worn at home by the firefighter the day before he was called to save a woman from a burning building, the woman of which had a daughter who had been on holiday in a lodge in the mountains with her Grandparents at the time, the Grandparents of which had given the little girl a beautiful crystal hair clip for her birthday, which was now resting on the table in the vintage emporium next to the rack of trousers which held the pair worn by the firefighter. Stuff like that just makes me want to scream because the thought of it is just so outrageous.

 And the gloves. The label said they were from 1952. These gloves may have seen the world. These gloves could've held the hands of a schoolgirl, a midwife, a butchers daughter, a princess, a homeless person, a grandmother, a famous writer, a president's wife. These gloves could've done all manner of things, could've bared witness to infinite writing and words crafted at their tips, could've shaken hands with the most exciting and mundane people on the planet. These gloves could've been worn when that woman put her hand out for a taxi cab that would've changed her life but never stopped, the hand that pulled the trigger on a gun that killed a man, the hand that brushed the hair of the terminally ill child for the very last time. And the best bit about it all, is that I'll never know. Somehow, since 1952, these gloves have been on an incredible adventure, inevitably destined for my hands one day. What has happened in the meantime, will forever remain a mystery, and that is just the most exciting thing in the world for me.

When I finished telling the woman these reasons, she just stared at me for a bit. I gave a shy smile and then she said, "Do you have a blog?" I said no. "Oh, well it's just that I'd love to read more about the way you think about things." And there. That was it. I went home that night and started to create Scarphelia.

And that's why I'll never be ashamed to wear what I choose to wear. The way I dress my face has been an issue too. I remember at a party at the start of this year, I'd gotten upset about something and was having a heart to heart with one of my male friends, which for reasonable reasons because of reasons, I shall name Daniel.

After I'd opened up to him, he'd said to me, "There we go. I don't think I've ever seen you this vulnerable, Kate. See behind all that pretense and all this outer shell, there's the real you." I frowned at me. "I can see it. You feel the need to always put on this performance, put on this show for other people. But I know the real you, inside, you're just insecure so you feel the need to over-compensate on the outside. Kate, you don't need to wear all this makeup and put all this on for other people, you're beautiful without it. You don't have to pretend all the time. It'd be nice to see the real Katie sometime."

I know he didn't mean it as antagonistic and I'm sure his sentiments were nothing but with my best interests in mind, but I just wanted to throw my hands up and sigh. Just another person who didn't get it.

The idea that I'd go to that much effort to pretend to other people all the time was not only preposterous but also offensive. I dress the way I do because I so admire the people who dress like this, and I have a passion for the nostalgia of it. I like the style so I emulate it - it's not pretending, it's being inspired. And as for the makeup, perhaps I would look 'prettier' if I wore less or did it a little differently, but am I seriously going to consider changing the way that I am currently so happy with looking, just so other people will find me 'prettier'? I found it almost laughable. All these people tell me that I give off the impression of trying to be something I am not, and I'm trying too hard and I should wear less makeup and less crazy clothes to be more natural and to be more myself. Well, that's just one big paradox. To make other people happy I should stop being myself and change the way I look because right now I'm changing the way I look, which means I'm not being myself. Ha.

So you know what, yeah I do wear a lot of makeup, yeah I do dress a little eccentrically, but yeah, I am supersonically, astronomically happy with all of it because by the looks of things. So, I've decided that people can sit there and tell me I shouldn't present myself in such a way, and I'm just going to shout "YEAH? WELL WELCOME TO SCARPHELIA, BITCH."


Fuck yeah.

Scarlet-Ophelia.



Sunday, 27 January 2013

A1: S13 - You ARE Amazing

I think possibly my greatest flaw yet equally my greatest attribute, is the fact that I am firm in the belief that I am amazing.

One thing I've noticed throughout my life and the various social circles I've been in and involved with, is that I have an innate ability to make people dislike me. Full on Marmite syndrome. From what I can tell, the reason behind this is because people who don't know me very well think I am pretentious as hell, unbearably vain and unashamedly arrogant in pretty much every aspect of myself, my appearance and my abilities like I'm god's gift to the planet. It's frustrating. Because I feel there is such a clear distinction between being arrogant and big-headed, and thinking yourself to be amazing.

I suppose I can see why people think I'm like that - I can be over the top a lot of the time and I'm not blessed with the virtue of modesty, hell, I'm writing this on a blog dedicated to just talking about myself. Can't really get more self-centered than that.

But for people to think I see myself as 'god's gift' and what not, is not only ridiculous, it is also so wrong that it's almost tragically hilarious - geez, if this blog shows anything, surely it reveals that I am one messed up person, plagued by insecurities and issues. But yet, at the same time, I believe that there are things which people shouldn't force themselves to be modest about, just so they don't seem like a dick. I don't think I'm god's gift to the world, but I don't think I'm worthless either.

There is middle ground.

 It is possible to be humble and appreciate yourself as much as you appreciate others and the world around you, without being arrogant. So what if sometimes when you look in the mirror you don't actually hate yourself, or every now and then you feel a little bit of pride at something you've created? It seems like people have a natural propensity to hate on those people who don't actually think they are shit.

Ever since I was a child, I've felt such a strong sense of individuality and the joy of doing things on my own, that I rarely have the opportunity or desire to let others in too close, especially in romantic terms. I guess that makes me pretty selfish. In fact when I do, I feel that is when I begin to lose sight of myself, my goals, my dreams and my future. It's just not something that I need right now in my life. The best quote to sum this up I'd say, is from Sex and the City's Samantha Jones; "I love you... I just love me more." (but that goes waaaay into the relationship rant which I must save for another day.)

I feel that I am dedicated and so determined to make the most out of my life and to be successful in my endeavors,  that it inevitably makes me selfish. I guess if you think about it, following your dreams is a selfish act, but not selfish in a negative way. The words selfish and self-centered have become derogatory terms, but if you think about what they really mean, it isn't negative at all. It's about taking control of your own life and destiny and choosing to do what you want to do.

And in this sense, 'selfish' means choosing to be the best 'self' you can be. In psychology it's called an Internal Locus of Control - "Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events in their life derive primarily from their own actions."

In a similar vein, I have a habit of observing and writing about the world as if it solely forms around me, its pivotal inhabitant. I was always confused as a child when my parents would shout at me, 'The world doesn't revolve around you, Katie!' Because actually, it definitely, irrevocably does. In the same way that you reading this right now, to you, the world revolves around you. And the next person, their world revolves around them.

Of course the world revolves around you, you're the only person who is actually living it. Yours are the only thoughts you hear, yours are the only situations you experience, yours is the only life you lead and know every detail of - who is to say that anyone aside from you even exists outside the immediate presence of yourself?
 
I like to imagine it like a play. This play follows the protagonist who is on-stage constantly, so you know all about their lives and see everything they do. Then there are the minor characters and extras who interact with the main story intermittently, dropping in and out. As soon as the actors playing these character step off stage, the character instantly ceases to exist. Only when their time comes to interact with the story again, does that character spring back in to life as they come on stage. I suppose that could be seen negatively or positively. In a negative way I guess it's a lonely way of thinking - everyone but you is just a character in your play. But then in a positive way, you can choose to let people become main characters, and create a life, create a new play with them. And when it comes to trivial problems, people causing you trouble or things that try to hold it back, you can turn and see just how irrelevant they are to the main storyline of how you are planning your play and your life to go, and you can say to yourself, 'You know what? They're nothing but extras.'

It's evidently a flaw because this doesn't exactly make you the most likable person. Also in personal terms, the disadvantages of thinking you're amazing emerge in situations for example, when you are proved wrong and cannot handle it, or when someone comes along who you think is more amazing than you, and it knocks you completely out of kilter.

That sucks, but at the same time, it's the kick of reality that you need, to stop you from being completely lost in delusions of grandeur, gallivanting off thinking you're in The Truman Show and that you can puppeteer the people around you. You might be amazing, but there's undoubtedly going to be someone out there who is more amazing than you, and that's sure as hell to bitch-slap you back to reality.

Now I know this is going to sound like painfully pretentious self-help book crap again, but when a situation like that arises, I think it's important to remember that this more amazing person can swan off and take their amazing amazingness and do whatever, wherever. Does that affect your life in any way apart from making you feel a bit shitty for a bit? Even though they're amazing, aren't they still just an extra? Does that mean that you should just give up and settle for mediocrity because 'whats the point in trying to be the best'? Hell no! You grit your teeth and you work ten times harder to be the most successful, badass son of a bitch you possibly can be.



I used to joke with Harry that the only reason I'd ever eventually become successful is from a constant string of one-upmanship over my past loves. Mr X is famous and now him and I are nothing? Well hot damn, the only thing left to do surely is to become more famous and successful than him, and one day he'll consider himself the lucky one.

So this is why I think being totally selfish and completely in love with yourself is nothing but a good thing. Because thinking you're amazing means you do everything you can to become the best person you could possibly be. You pursue all curiosities and education, craving intelligence and experience as if on some path to divine enlightenment. You push yourself to excel in every task or skill you set your mind to, and will not rest until you feel proud of what you have achieved in anything you do.

You understand yourself as a unique and sentient being which has defied such great odds to be stood on this planet, that to have no destiny or purpose here would be the only impossible odd. You feel the desire to cherish every single day as it comes, and every single person you meet and interaction you have, and to never take for granted yourself, your life, or the chances and opportunities that are created for you. You become passionate about life, your friends, your family and you treat the world as if it has been gifted for you, and just you, to create beauty with.

It’s you. You feel the full responsibility of using your life to change the world for the better, and to leave a lasting legacy that will forever change the way the future will happen. Don't let yourself be forgotten. You've got one chance to do something, why let yourself become just another name in a census, a forgotten photograph in an old family album?

I've come to realise that life is too goddamn short to waste your time worrying that other people will think you're a dick and hate you for trying to be successful. I'm not going to be afraid of standing up and throwing my hands in the air, shouting "Hooray for not being shit!" because, to be honest, although it sounds like a major cliche, when people start hating on you, it's usually a sign that you're doing something right. Hate is the first bitter resort of the envious.

I do see the irony in what I'm saying here, all this talk about being self-righteous and pretentious is totally self-righteous and pretentious, but I just don't think people should be ashamed to be proud of themselves. I guess I just think perhaps the world would be a greater place, if more people realised just how amazing they actually are.

Scarlet-Ophelia.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A1: S12 - The Interesting Boys

So I guess before I continue with the future I should finally finish the past...

With the six little symbolic birds emblazoned on my skin, a new and incredibly exciting life to start, and a complete transformation of character, I headed with mixed emotions back to Never-never land.

Before I said my wistful goodbye's to my beloved Silver Sisters and the memories of my outrageously silver summer, Florentine gave me a letter. Now if I had the patience, time or even slight inclination to believe that anyone apart her and I would understand it, I'd sit and type out the entire letter because it was simply spectacular. For example, half way through a paragraph explaining how we first met, she writes in brackets, mid-sentence, "(Oh gross I just sneezed in my hand - and not to the good dry kind. Brb.)"

The letter mostly contained nostalgic re-enactments of our various silver adventures over summer, or stupid things we'd said and done together, but there was one bit at the end which really caught me off-guard. If there was ever a worry in my mind that I'd revert to the person I was previously at Uni, this little paragraph would chase those doubts away eternally and irrevocably. I think it was most poignant and unexpected because Florentine was one of those special kinds of friends that is the first to take the piss out of you, the first to call you out when you've stepped out of line, the first to mock you when you're being pretentious, the first to feign disgust when you do something right or get praised and the one who is always honest with you straight to your face, without any concern of offending you. I guess that's what you call a best friend. (Naturally, a friend who is going to mock my pretentiousness endlessly as soon as she sees this post.) The last little bit of her letter said;

"It's been a pleasure knowing you so far Katie. You're bloody fucking hilarious, sweet, generous and so much fun. You're such a breath of fresh air in my life. 'In this life there are grey people. There are so many grey people with grey lives which will only amount to things unmemorable. Then there are the silver. Silver people are the opposite. These are the people who achieve greatness whether that was their intention or not' - Do you know who said that? Katie Fucking Oldham, that's who. Love you lots, Florentine."

I've never felt such an overwhelming gratitude for the existence of a human being. All the things she'd said about me, I felt the same toward her, and I knew that she just, simply, got it. So I knew that even if I went back to Uni, fell out with all my old 'friends' because I'd come back a different person, and found no other people who matched my new/old personality, it wouldn't matter. Because Florentine was one of those rare people you meet in life, and you just know, instantly, that the day before you first met, was the last day you'd ever not have them in your life.


*

Little could I ever have known (or probably should've expected, knowing my way with fate) that I would meet the people that would change my life and finalise my transformation into the person I have now become, on the first ever day returning to Uni.

The way I met them still makes me laugh to this day. It was mid-September, the first night of Fresher's Week, and after a bit of a rush moving into our new house, flaunting my new tattoo to my cooing housemates and grabbing the first outfit out of the top of my moving bags, we'd all gathered in the kitchen to begin pre-drinking. Then we discovered that we all had tickets to the student union nightclub, except one person. He needed to go down to the campus bar which was next door to the nightclub, to look for people selling tickets, but didn't want to go alone. After a moments contemplation, I decided to go with him. (I still marvel that if I hadn't offered to help him, then I would never have met these people, I would be in a completely different world right now. )

The University's nightlife is in a sort of courtyard with a large pub spanning one side, the old SU on the opposite two sides and the nightclub and bar on the other side. In the middle are several granite block benches and a few trees in a modern minimalist layout - the prime location for the severely drunk, paralytic and vomiting alike to gather between the hours of 11pm and 6am every weekend and the occasional weekday. After a fruitless search for a ticket-seller, this is where we spotted our target. Drunk beyond all resemblance of being human, limbs flailing everywhere and time remaining conscious rapidly decreasing, I noticed the freshers pass lanyard around his neck and went in for the kill. I put my arm around the lolloping human and struck up a pointless conversation before realising he couldn't even speak he was so drunk, so decided to drop the oh-so-uncasual "Oh no way, is that a Freshers pass you got there?"

"Now come on, that's not playing fair is it. Look at him, he's helpless." I looked up to find three boys sitting on the bench opposite, watching me and the drunkard with expressions of mild amusement. The one on the left looked like he'd walked out of a teenage boyband, wearing a band t-shirt and light blue hoodie with swoopy blonde hair and stylish glasses. The one on the right was grumpy-looking, wearing a navy anorak and had shoulder length auburn hair. The middle one, who'd spoken, looked like a vampire - tall and slim wearing a complete dark burgundy suit and white shirt with his black hair combed to one side, impossibly pale skin and the most piercing blue eyes I'd ever seen. They looked like three characters who'd walked out of three different books and just happened to sit on the same bench together just as I'd looked up.   

The middle one, vampire, took a drag of his cigarette and smirked. I turned my attention back to the drunkard who was now trying to kiss me. Boyband reject laughed and said "So fresher has a girlfriend!" I protested, trying to push the drunkard away just as boyband shouted "Smile" 

"No!" 

"Come one, do your best fresher's girlfriend impression!" 

"Here I'll help" Anorak jumped in with a massive thumbs up. I sighed and complied while he took the photo. They all laughed. Realising my attempts to procure the pass from the fresher were futile, I turned to the boys. They certainly didn't look like they were there to get messed up and go clubbing.

"Are you guys in a band?" Was apparently the most important question in my mind at that time. They laughed and replied they were not. "Why are you here?"

"To enjoy the show, clearly." The vampire said, gesturing out at the ever-increasing crowds of scantily-clad stumbling girls and drunken boys hurling abuse at one another. I cringed as I remembered how not even six months ago I was one of these people. "Why are you here, freshers girlfriend?"

"Failing at trying to find a ticket for my housemate, clearly. Thank you for your kind assistance."

"Come on now, you can't use your charms to prowl on drunk freshers and rob them blind. We're just looking out for the poor sod."

I replied that there was no malice in my fresher robbery, but I soon forgot entirely about my ticketless housemate. We began to talk and I discovered that they were fourth years, having all just returned from doing study abroad year's in various countries of the world. With each curious little titbit they each said, I found myself irrepressibly intrigued by these boys. 

"So how old are you, fresher's girlfriend?" asked anorak.

"Nineteen."

They all winced in varying expressions of surprise and distaste.

"Christ. So young." said vampire. "Question, who do you think is the oldest out of all of us?"

I surveyed them all carefully, before saying "You." and gesturing at the boy on the right. Vampire and boyband laughed and playfully pushed him with a jeering 'ahhh' sound.

"Why do you say that?" He said, defensively.

"Well for one thing," I replied, "You're wearing a fucking anorak." To which, for some reason, they all found hilarious. 

*

After almost an hour of wildly intriguing discussion, boyband suddenly exclaims "There we go!", showing me the picture of the drunk fresher, anorak and I on Facebook. I sighed again, but as he showed me his phone, I caught his name. But, for reasonable reasons because of reasons, I shall, of course, change these.

"So you're Alfie." I said to boyband and he nodded. "I'm Katie."

"Charles." said anorak.

"Jasper." said vampire. 

We all nodded in silent agreement. At that moment, I could never have even dreamt of the impact they'd have on me. After that night and over the course of our friendship they would from then, until now and forever beyond, always be referred to as 'The Interesting Boys'.

Scarlet-Ophelia.

The moment we all met.
Jasper and I.
Alfie, me and Charles.





Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A1: S11 - Insomnia

Insomnia has been crippling me lately. Since late November 2012, my sleeping pattern has been absolutely obliterated, leaving me with a combination of nights sleep's which last from 7am-5pm, and on nights when I do go to bed at a reasonable hour, a wonderful wake up call of 4am. I think I might be possessed or something. Each time I wake up and look at the clock, its always, without fail, some time between five to and five past four.

But, however frustrating it may be, there is one amazing thing about not being able to sleep - the things it drives you to do in the meantime. It takes about forty minutes of forcing my eyes shut or staring at the walls before I simply cannot take it anymore and have to start doing things. It's incredible the extent of things one can be driven to do out of a desperate frustration from sleep deprivation. Hell, its currently 5:16am and I'm sat on my bed tapping away, overlooking the misty sleeping street below, after waking up as usual, at 3:57am. Sometimes its rudimentary things like tidying my room or getting round to answering those emails, but the only thing which I find that truly prospers within me during the wee hours of the morning, is creativity.

That was the situation when, a few weeks ago, I discovered the little orange book. I didn't even remember bringing it to university with me, but when I saw it, I was overwhelmingly glad I did. Now, for as long as I can remember, I've kept journals. These aren't like diaries where I write what I did each day (although some of them are failed attempts to do so), these are notebooks filled with my thoughts, feelings, memories and stories - pretty much an explosion of my mind onto paper. I always said to myself that one day, when I retire, I shall collate all of my writings and put them together in chronological order and create one massive book of fifty years of rambling. Then recently I realised, that this is exactly what I'm doing right now.

Anyway, my little orange book is the holy grail of these. This is the one where I believe my most impressive work and my most bizarre and magnificent thought processes are kept. This book holds theories about the universe, senseless ramblings about intelligent design and the birth of humanity and even a design of my own city. It began in July 2011. I remember the exact time, place and reason why I bought it.

I was on the Greek Island of Zante. (And no, not on a girls holiday getting pissed and partying - the idea of that repulses me.) I was staying with my family in a beautiful secluded hotel at the foot of a mountain, where the long sun-drenched days stretched endlessly and the exotic birds sung merrily in the bountiful vegetation around the turquoise pool. And I felt positively morbid. Simply for one fact: I was in love. (The fact that I was rendered in such a morose state in such a beautiful and fleeting place is but one of the reasons that contribute to my current zero tolerance of love and relationships, but that's a whole other kettle of fish which I shall go on to rant about at a later time.)

I was full on, head over heels, in a near-death feverish state - lovesick. The gentleman in question, I shall refer to as Oscar. And my god, is the back story of him worth telling one day. But for now, world, this is your first introduction to Oscar. Although in some ways I resent Oscar in reference to how foolish and narrow-minded I become in romantic situations, I owe a lot of my mind to him. Oscar is an extraordinary individual with a presence and unexpected intellect which inspires, and a sense of creativity and greatness of mind which seems to diffuse through the air like a tangible substance, infiltrating the minds of the people who spend time in his presence. I am firm in the belief that I would not be able to think and write in the way that I do now, if it wasn't for him. In fact, I said this to him not a month ago;

"When I am alone, I can just about bare the force of my own thoughts. But when I am with you, it feels as though you give the tiniest, most minuscule amount of matter to my thoughts, a little speck of dust, point zero zero one gram to every idea in my brain. So much so, that at times it feels I cannot even hold my own head up due to the sheer weight of my own thoughts."

Imagine having that, being separated from him, and having nowhere to write. I was losing my mind. So I went down to the local Greek market and bought the only notebook they had in the whole place - a little book with a plastic orange cover. For the next week I unleashed sweet, beautiful hell into that bad boy.

Now, being two years on and a whole other life away at uni, I discovered this notebook one night when I could not get to sleep. It blew my mind to read back over all the things written in there, right from the very first day I'd bought the book and hilariously melodramatically titled it "The lonesome, pinesome sentiments of an abandoned sweetheart in Greece." I smiled whimsically reading back through all the stuff about Oscar, and all the observations and musings about the world I'd written, but then I found some stuff that I hadn't remembered writing, and it was about Mr X. This was not my ground-breaking impressive work or the holy grail stuff I'd written with Oscar in mind, but this really took me aback. Although this was written toward the end of the little orange book, it seems appropriate to relay this now, to put a close on the whole Mr X scenario. And to be honest, there is no sense of a logical time line in any of this blog, so why start now! This was what I'd written, and reading it again filled me with this profound self of peace and nostalgic wisdom;

"27th June 2012 - Midnight.

Before I start, there are some things I feel I should justify to myself. I do not believe I am completely naive. I am trying my hardest to keep a realistic, level head. But there are those times, when you can simply relish in being nothing but ignorant, this delightful, beautiful ignorance where you are completely and utterly clueless as to whether good or bad may be coming your way, all you have are the memories of what has happened so far and the knowledge of what is happening to you right now - THIS is the feeling that you live for. THIS is the feeling which you so long for in the mundane. I never wish for happiness, I never wish for contentment - I wish for that heart-aching, stomach-swirling, nail-biting, soul-consuming, thrill. THIS. I am going to do my best to describe what this feels like right now, because I know this could all disappear in a mere nanosecond.

For want of a better metaphor, I feel like a beach. A veritable fucking coastline. Hahaha. (I actually wrote hahaha to myself in a diary... hahaha.) I get these low, steady, predictable waves of adrenaline course through my body when I think about the situation, when I think about him. Adrenaline which swells and blooms, like the deep oceanic tidal swells, far out to sea. But then there are the times, when I'm not tuned into my thoughts, when my mind can be idly wandering, or I'm watching TV, reading a book or having a menial conversation, when BOOM this huge tsunami surges through my body, sweeping all my attention away from every other distraction as it goes, and like seawater crashing against the shore crawling across every nook and cranny in the sand, rocks and pebbles, creeping in every tiny available gap - this intense surge of excitement, adrenaline and thrill floods every vein and artery, every fibre of my soul to the very tips of my fingers like golden light, illuminating my being to this beaming incandescence. 

I am completely powerless to resist these rogue attacks which get my heart pounding and my stomach swirling, just as the shore is powerless to resist the breaking waves. But I am thankful for that. I was starting to feel that it had been so long since something ignited my soul, that my heart would've forgotten how to respond. The mere memories of what has happened so far just melt me. This is one of the most incredible opportunities I have ever been given, I just hope I don't fuck it up. You know, for someone who makes so much of their own luck, I'm godawfully superstitious.

I'm not writing this for him, Katie, I'm writing this for you. For two reasons. One - do not ever forget what this feeling feels like. It doesn't matter how long you go without being ignited by another person, it will happen again, often when you least expect it. And no doubt, bigger and better than any time before. Two - You make your own luck in life. You can't wait for opportunity to come knocking on your door because life is short, and you can spend the rest of your time waiting. Instead, you go out there, you see an opportunity and you do not hesitate. If it fails, so what? It fails. What have you lost? You've certainly not lost any time, and in the end, isn't that what we all fear losing the most?

3am - no closer to sleep. He's like a plague on my brain. Every time I feel tired and my head starts to feel heavy, I turn out the light and BOOM there it is again, that tidal wave of happiness. The fact is, I know this is the most dangerous way a girl can let herself think. Someone once said to me 'Never let your whole happiness depend on something which you could quite easily lose." But when, realistically, does anyone actually say that to themselves, and mean it? That's the sort of cynical shit you say after you've been hurt and pretend that you knew it all along. I know letting my imagination run away with itself is dangerous and I may want to scream this from the rooftops, but I understand my complex relationship I have with Lady Karma, and this is so cruelly tempting her to prick up her ears and take note.

But this is like a drug. I know it's bad to be this foolishly optimistic and painfully naive, but I think I want to let myself spiral out of control and wallow in this pleasure and gratification because I live to dream. I do try and give myself a reality check every now and again but the fact of the matter is I am a daydreamer, a fantasist and however much I hate to admit it, a hopeless romantic. At the end of the day, this situation will undoubtedly turn out the way I secretly know it inevitably will, but for now, who cares if it's being naive? After all this time, I think I've decided, even if I do get hurt, that I am allowed to let myself completely and entirely lose myself  in this boundless, unprecedented, blindingly brilliant, soul-affirming happiness. Because right now, you know, I think I deserve it."

 *

I think what surprised me most, was the tone in which I spoke to myself. I guess when I wrote it I knew that I was going to discover it again in the future, or look back on this one day when I really needed help. It's weird, I seem to constantly learn things from my old self, like I'm living my life in reverse. Most people say "I wish I knew then, what I know now" or wish they could've given their younger self advice from their older self, but for me its the complete opposite. Past Katie seems to know exactly what's going to happen to me, and the only way I seem to make progress as Present Katie, is to go back and have a conversation with Past Katie. She's just so much goddamn wiser than I am.

Scarlet-Ophelia



Saturday, 12 January 2013

A1: S10 - The Darkest of Days

Now before I start, I'd like to give a brief word about this post. I have been in two minds for quite some time about whether to include this part of my life in this blog. As you read on you'll understand why. There are obvious reasons as to why I would not want to share this, even more so to put it out there on the Internet for all the world to read - but I am going to, and the reasons as to why I have chosen now to do so, may not be so obvious. I am not asking for attention, for people to feel sorry for me or to be guilt tripped or anything, that's the opposite of what I want. I want to include this because it was, and continues to be, a terribly important part of my life, and fundamental to the shaping of who I have been able to do and become today. Also, I think it's important to show the reality, however painful, as well as these incredible stories I have because it is real life after all. Finally,  I guess it's bit of personal therapy too. I've never been able to talk about this properly as it is an awfully touchy subject for me, and I think this will be a liberating experience. Okay... here goes.

At the end of the summer 2012, I felt like an entirely new person. Well, more accurately, I'd found the old person that I'd been all along. My soul felt refreshed and I held a mix of dreaded anticipation and sheer excitement at returning to uni again - determined this time to start with a firm grip on myself. But although I always speak of my first year as an absolute mess of a year, I regret nothing about it. I didn't particularly like who I was and the things I did and what happened, but I believe it all needed to happen for me to be able to have that realisation. I needed to go to the complete other end of the spectrum to realise where my place on it was all along. Because there was simple fact about my first year and the people I lived with, that, regardless of anything they said or did subsequently, no matter how drastic, would never change - and that was that I'd been saved. And this is why, at the end of the summer, before returning to uni for me second year, I decided to get a tattoo.

*

I'd loved my school years . My time at first, middle and secondary school was an absolute blast, and I'd change none of it for the world. I loved to learn, I was pretty popular with a lot of great friends, and generally had a bloody great time growing up. But then I hit sixth form. How dramatically everything went so very, very wrong.

It had begun with an illness. In the first few weeks of term at the start of year 12, I was struck down with intense abdominal pain and suspected appendicitis. I was taken straight from school to hospital one Friday afternoon and did not return for another two weeks. I did not have appendicitis but the Doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I stayed in hospital for a week on emergency watch as my condition deteriorated, before eventually going under the knife to figure out what was wrong. To cut a long story short (excuse the pun), the Doctors never did find out what was wrong with me, but during the operation I had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic, and my 30 minute op turned into a 3 hour ordeal as the Doctors could not keep me breathing. I had to have CPR performed on me three times before they jammed a tube down my throat and nose to force me breathe. As you can imagine, when I came to and was told all that, it changed me a little bit.

I suddenly, out of nowhere, became very mature. The fact that I'd been pretty much dead disturbed me to the core and almost forced me to grow up a lot. When I was all better, I returned to school with a new outlook on life, and not necessarily a positive one. I became very serious and less sociable. This is when I first began to develop my own personal tastes and take more care in my appearance and how I presented myself. Because I had no job and my parents were always reluctant to give me money for clothes, I used to go into places like Topshop and River Island and take down little sketches of the outfits I saw, then go to charity shops and see if I could find similar items, often to great success. This is what sparked my long-enduring passion for vintage clothes and fashion.

So I began to dress differently, and this did not go unnoticed. Quickly people started making snidy remarks about how I'd 'changed', how I was 'trying to be something I wasn't' and I was 'pretentious' and 'up myself', but that was just the beginning. I dyed my hair and started wearing make-up and the remarks got worse and the whispers not so hushed anymore. Then out of nowhere it all seemed to spiral drastically out of control. I started getting hundreds of anonymous messages online airing my most private secrets publicly and stating things like "you think everyone loves you but in fact everyone hates you", and "isn't it funny how the people who you think are closest to you are the ones who hate you the most" and I began to shun myself away from people, as I didn't feel I could trust anyone anymore. I couldn't understand what I'd done to cause all this, and my best friend actually said to me one day, "Y'know, I really don't get why everyone hates you."

Cutting myself off just made everything worse, as people began to think I was being snobby and thought I thought I was better than anyone else. I tried to put on a brave front and fight back online which just exacerbated things beyond any expectation. The worst thing was, it was the people who were supposed to be my best friends that were doing it. One of the most humiliating things was to realise at the age of 17, I was being bullied. Things just went from worse to worse - I got dog shit smeared over my car windows and rubbish stuffed under the windscreen wipers, I got messages over and over telling me I was fat and everyone hated me, and I spent my time at school just watching people pointing and laughing at me as I sat alone. It was genuinely like I was in 'Mean Girls' or something, Then I got messages telling me I should kill myself.

I got sick. Really sick. I fell into a dark and terrible place. After a month I was diagnosed with depression and put on a course of cognitive behavioural therapy, which I still, to this day, never completed. I don't remember much of those days. The abuse soon dwindled out as everyone got bored of me and I was just left alone in the corner and forgotten about and broken. But despite it all stopping, the deep depression clung to me like a sickly shadow. The thing I remember most was the overwhelming tiredness. Most days I couldn't even find it within myself to open my eyes in the morning, let alone get out of bed and face going to school. I just slept all the time, but still never felt rested. My absences soon wracked up and I was called in for many disciplinaries. I didn't even stick up for myself or try and defend my actions, I just let the oblivious teachers talk at me and tried to look sincere as I promised to do better in school. This continued for months.

I stopped eating after a while. Partly because the fat comments had really touched a nerve, and partly because I just didn't have the energy or effort to. Most people think depression is about being sad all the time, but that's not what it's like at all. It is just an overwhelming and profound sense of eternal... blankness. I was just a shell of a person who'd forgotten how to be. What was worse was that I had no reason to feel that way. The abuse had stopped and even some people had come forward and apologised, I now had a boyfriend and a loving family, but I was just... absent. I'd forgotten how to function and was just slowly sinking into this abyss of no return. I remember trying to talk to my friend Harry, who'd left the school, about it, saying I just didn't want to be here anymore and he said to me. "Katie... if you ever EVER did anything stupid... I'd never fucking forgive you for it, Katie. Never." But I was numb and his words meant nothing. They were dark, dark times.

Then one night, about a year after I'd been diagnosed, I had been crying to myself solidly for hours after punishingly reading through the old messages, and I was curled up on the bathroom floor in a pathetic heap of shuddering human. I weakly sat up, smudging mascara across my face and tried to slow my stuttering breath. Then, with only minimal awareness and presence of mind, I slowly got to my feet, picked it up, and sat back down again on the floor.

It glistened between my fingers. My tears and irregular breathing had stopped. It was so small and it would be so easy. Slowly I turned over my right hand and looked at the threads of blue veins against my grey wrist. I looked back at the razor blade in my hand. And that's when the thought of such pure and concentrated despair, from the final depth of my depression, the floor of the pit of self loathing which I could never wish anyone to ever experience, came to me and detonated with horror the very fibre of my being.

Killing myself wouldn't be so bad.


If ever the phrase 'my life flashed before my eyes' could have been more apt, it was then. Suddenly I saw the the very skin on my bones jump as if it were alive itself, every inch of it having grown up with me for the past seventeen years, a living history. In my mind I saw my life in a sort of montage of home movie clips.

 I saw myself being born, how happy my parents were, all their dreams coming true in the form of me. I saw the hours and hours they put into caring for me, making sure they did everything I could to turn out to be the best possible person I could be. I saw them looking into my eyes at night and kissing my forehead as I fell asleep. I saw them spending every penny of their hard earned cash into making sure that my life was amazing, I saw them teaching me how to walk and how to talk, showing me the world, and telling me stories. I saw them crying at the gates on my first day at school, so proud of their little girl. I saw them mounting photos of me on the mantelpiece and sending copies off to Grandma. I saw them teaching me how to ride a bike and laughing as I crashed headfirst into the trailer outside the Canadians house down the street. I saw them endure my endless tantrums and 'I hate you!'s, still loving me regardless of how horribly I treated them. I saw them agonising over the bills after Christmas because they'd forked out everything they could so I could have the very best toys like all the other kids. I saw them helping me with my homework, grounding me, teaching me, loving me, holding me, wiping away my tears, encouraging me - seventeen birthdays, Christmas's, summer holidays and school terms - seventeen years of ME.

And then I saw myself, I finally saw myself and what I was doing, at the lowest, darkest point of my depression, knowing that I could lay waste to every single part of that, make all that time, effort, money and strain completely worthless with one small swipe across my skin.


I cannot tell you what that feeling felt like. I'd say it was a mixture of sudden realisation, disgust, guilt, sorrow, shock and horror - but really, that doesn't come close. I felt my whole body physically shake with the intensity of that emotion and I howled a noise that I didn't even know a human could make.

I count that as my darkest day, but also the day I began to wake up. I don't think I was ever really going to do it. In fact, I'm certain of it. I think it was just the thought that the idea of suicide didn't seem shocking to me anymore that made me fully realise that I was seriously not well.   

And from then on, I began to heal. I locked away all those past resentments and put my head down and got through school as quickly and painlessly as I could. I painstakingly slowly began to pick up the tattered pieces of myself. It took time, but every little shard that I picked up found its place again, and I began to slowly and meticulously cement everything back together, ten times stronger this time, until I gradually began to form this impenetrable armour.

As you'd expect, all this didn't have a great effect on me academically - hence why I went into clearing. I was also terrified about going to university, as I didn't think I was mentally strong enough to handle the strain. But with the tuition fees changing, there was nothing I could do. So, with my past lying heavy on my shoulders like a backpack of stone, and a half tattered soul trailing along behind me like a moth-eaten cloak, I braced myself the best I could, and headed to the unknown lands of Hertfordshire.

I never would have imagined how lucky I was to be. Although admittedly I did end up going a weird way, my life improved three thousand-fold. I met hundreds of new friends and welcomed a new world of exciting possibilities, and I fell in love with the uni lifestyle. And it was mostly thanks to my housemates. I never told them the extent of what happened to me, but I indicated to them that I'd come from being in a bad way, and thankfully, they never pushed to find out the details. That sort of made it even more special for me, because they didn't even know how they'd helped me, it was just by being themselves that they had saved me.

Although we had our scuffles and fall outs throughout the year and continue to now, nearly two years on, it will never change what they did for me at the start of my first year. Even our worst of the worst days here are still better than my best of best days when I was suffering, and that is such an important for me to remember.

So, at the end of summer 2012, before the start of my second year, with Ariella by my side, I got a tattoo of six small birds on my back, to represent the six of us in the house, and the freedom they bought me. As I sat in that chair in the tattoo parlour, after an incredible year of living and thriving, I really appreciated just how far I'd come from that dark place. With each painful stroke which rattled my ribs, it felt like all the pain and suffering that I'd inflicted on myself over the past few years was being concentrated, channeled through the tip of that needle and sealed within my skin in the form of these six tiny birds, forever. Never to be released ever again, but forever marked there so I'll not forget from where I have come from.


Over time, the tattoo continues to deepen in meaning for me. Some people get loads of tattoos to represent different things, but this one seems to fulfill it all in one for me. It is a symbol of the freedom I have achieved from depression, it represents the five others which helped me to do that, it is a reminder of
that dark place I went to and managed to come back from, and now, it has become to me a symbol of strength. I feel like my recovery and my armour is almost complete, I feel wiser, more resilient and most of all, fiercely strong-minded. And I owe that entirely, to being reduced to my weakest point.

Most people say to me "You got a tattoo of your uni housemates? Ha, someone's gonna regret that in a year." but I just smile, because I know that if it wasn't for my housemates, and what they helped me to do, then there's a chance I wouldn't even be here at all.

(and you know what, it's on my back, so if I do one day hate it in fifty years time, I'll never have to look at it!)


*exhale deeply*




And that's the story behind my tattoo.



Scarlet-Ophelia.


P.s  I bawled my eyes out through the majority of typing this, but my good god.... do I now feel peace.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A1: S9 - Sisters in Silver

That summer, I made two of the greatest friends I could ever have. I shall call them Ariella and Florentine. I'd known Ariella for a long time as my sister dated her brother, but we'd never really spoken much. I knew that we liked the same kind of music and fashion, but we'd never got beyond that. Then one day we decided to make music together, and it was then that we realised we shared the exact same thoughts, views and frustrations of the world too. We were like kindred spirits.

Then there was Florentine. I'd known of her for ages and we had countless mutual friends, but... we'd never actually met. She was one of those friends-of-friends that you know everything about, and you have a casual chat to online every now and again, but then you realise that you've never actually seen them in real life. When we finally did, we threw our arms around each other screaming "I can't believe I've finally met you!" and we knew this was the start of something awesome. We were three young girls with the wildest dreams and the world at their feet, with not a clue where to place their first step.

That's when the first ideas of being silver and grey came from. Together I'd discussed it with them and they'd both recognised exactly what I was saying and said that they'd felt it too. That something more. The purpose. I remember Florentine actually asking me one day "Why Silver though? Aren't grey and silver more or less the same colour? Wouldn't you rather be gold than silver?" But that was the point. Grey is so close to silver. Silver is grey, but with more. It doesn't need to take the world to turn your grey into silver. It's just the realisation of banality and the desire to change it. It can be the smallest of extraordinary things which can bring silver into the grey, and it's never too late to wake up and decide to make a change.

(A couple of days ago I had someone confront me and say that my silver and grey idea was offencive ,because the way I described it insinuated that people who wanted to settle down and have a family were grey. I was quite taken aback, as this was entirely unintended, however, I can see how that was inferred by my description. But that was not what I meant at all. I tried to use that as a (albeit bad) example of living by the bare rudiments of life, reaching each stage without much life in between. But I by no means think that wanting to settle down in grey in the slightest. Hell, starting a family sounds like the biggest adventure of all.)

Anyway, these two helped me to refine my way of thinking. In a wonderfully childish, girl-band esque way, we called ourselves the 'Sisters in Silver' and like three young sitcom kids pledging allegiance to their secret society treehouse, we vowed  never  to live another grey day in our lives.

My summer was a whirlwind; a veritable movie montage of spontaneity. I found myself dancing and laughing through the streets of Camden market with Ariella, ending up drunk as hell in a marquee and playing pool with a random Saudi Arabian man with Florentine, strolling through London art galleries and museums, gatecrashing top nightclubs in Chelsea and Mayfair on weeknights, sitting in a supermarket car parks at 4am eating cheesecake and discussing matters of the universe - we even managed to swag free tickets to the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games. I sat there with Ariella in the Olympic Stadium watching Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z, and together we jumped to our feet and just screamed as the fireworks exploded all around us. The old man sitting next to us actually tapped me on the shoulder and said "You know what, watching you two has been just as much fun as watching them lot down there!" and I grinned solidly for about an hour.

I squeezed silver out of every drop of my summer, but one thing still bothered me. One day, whilst swimming at the local gym with Harry, he turns to me and just says, "I can't take it anymore, Katie. We were born to be famous. What the hell is stopping us?" and I knew then, that he was so very right.

That same day, we went to his house and drew up some plans. He studied drama and wanted to become and actor, and although dreaming of the same, I cast my aspirations a little lower and decided I wanted to become a TV Presenter. After hours of discussion, we decided that we should make our own youtube channel and broadcast our thoughts and adventures, as we both seemed to lead such ridiculous lives. We decided to call it, That Boy That Girl. Through this we'd hopefully generate an audience and then we'd both have material to put on our casting showreels for our various pursuits.

Then came the problem of what the hell we were going to do in this videos. We had grand dreams of becoming online sensations and going viral, and wrote down hundreds of wildly preposterous and completely unrealistic ideas. To this day, we only ever made one video, that still hasn't even got 1000 views.  I consulted Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery. Then, he came up with an idea that stayed like a little seed in my brain until the birth of this very blog itself. He said "So you're two young things who are looking to make it, and want to create videos that will help you make it, while countless thousands are also trying to do the same... why not make videos of attempts to try and make it?"

He was right. There are so many people out there who are desperate to make it, yet nobody really knows how, so they try and create something that will get them noticed. But what if our creation to get us noticed was that in itself - a series of videos charting the real story of how two normal young people try to break the industry and make it? It seemed like a paradox but it made sense. The people who were just like us and doing exactly the same as us, who would normally be our competition, would now be our audience, and the material would be relatable as they were trying to do the same thing. People would want to know how to make it, so they look to us  to see how we try and make it, and that in turn makes us... make it!

The idea seemed flawless, but time was ticking on, and we soon had to return to our separate universities, and after a while we decided to put this plan on hold, knowing really, that it would never come off hold. However, this idea stayed with me, and eventually was birthed into the world as this blog itself - my attempt to conquer the world.

So as my incredible silver summer drew to a close just like the days of ever decreasing sunlight, I knew the seeds of change had been sewn deeply and firmly in my mind, and I knew that I was ready to start something important. I just needed to figure out precisely what that was going to be and how I was going to do that.

But there was one thing I wanted and needed to do before I returned to university. I was the happiest I'd ever been and still continue to be, but it didn't take much for me to remember what had come before.  So with Ariella by my side I made a decision to do something that would mark the beginning of the rest of my life....



Scarlet-Ophelia.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A1: S8 - Why Miss Out?

What made me laugh, was the one thing Mother was so shocked about when I told her the whole tale, was that I'd just gone to this festival on my own.

Ever since I was little, I've found just as much joy at doing things alone as I find doing things with other people. I used to (and still do) love going shopping on my own, going to the cinema, going for long walks through the forest and even going out to eat alone. Mother constantly despaired saying, "But Katie, you can't do that on your own!" to which I'd always reply "But...why not?" - something which she could never quite find a response to. I guess she was worried I was a social reject or something. I remember once my local cinema showed all the Harry Potter films in a row on 8 consecutive evenings, to which I joyfully went along to, and Mother actually sat me down and asked me to tell the truth as to where I'd been going every night, as she refused to believe that was what I'd been up to.

I guess it just seemed completely logical to me. I had actually asked my best friend if she wanted to come to the Harry Potter marathon but she couldn't make it... was I just supposed to not go because she couldn't, and miss out on something that I really wanted to do? That was when I came up with another little mantra to live by that I could whack out when anyone said I was weird for doing stuff on my own. I guess it sounds a little morbid now I think about it, but I don't see it that way. I find it quite the reassurance, knowing you can always depend on yourself:

 "I was born alone and I'll die alone, so why miss out on everything in between just because somebody won't come with me?"

I believe most of my random good luck comes from doing things on my own. When you're alone, you're so much more perceptive of the world around you. If you go out for coffee with someone, for example, you probably notice about 25% of what is going on around you, and the rest of your attention is focused on them, and the conversation you are having. If you were sat in that coffee shop alone, unless you are reading, writing or playing on your phone or something, pretty much 100% of your attention is focused on your surroundings - you watch the most fascinating people, you overhear the most intriguing conversations, you notice the tiny little things like that one random ceiling tile which is just a teeny bit out of line with the rest of them, and you wonder why. *

If I'd gone with someone to the Saturday of the festival, there's no way in hell I would've spoken to the boy on the wall, and subsequently no way in hell I would have ever got the chance to see Einaudi play. I wouldn't have had the desire to talk to strangers if I had a companion, in fact, it probably would've seemed rude if I had. I guess that's the beauty of doing thngs alone - you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want.

A lot of people say to me, "How the hell do these things always happen to you?" and for the most part, I haven't quite figured that one out yet. However, I am firm in the belief that you make your own luck, and create your own oppurtunities. And the first way of doing that, I'd say, is to start adventuring alone. Because I promise you, when you are alone, even the smallest of things become extraordinary.


Scarlet-Ophelia.

* = I actually wrote about this once, click here to have a gander:  http://scarphelia.tumblr.com/post/6248100678/co-star


Saturday, 5 January 2013

A1: S7 - Fate & Strangers

As you can imagine, the whole Mr X scenario altered my way of thinking and living rather dramatically. It seemed like the icing on the cake of a series of fateful pointers that were trying to tell me that I shold be following my dreams, not wasting time doing something I didn't even enjoy. I came to the conclusion that I was going to drop out of University. My parents were livid, understandably. But that was when I realised that they only ever seemed to care or want to intervene in my life when I was deviating from the perfect preconception they had conjured as to the way my life would go. Where were they when I was young, hopeful and needed and begged for their help to set me on the right path? Exactly. So, in the politest terms I could possibly have mustered, I told them where to stick it. I was 19 years old, and it was time that I took sole responsibility for the decisions in my life, after all, it's me who has to live it.

I won't lie though. A teeny weeny factor that had leant me toward that decision was the possibility that if I did drop out of uni, then maybe things would've been a bit easier between me and Mr X. Perhaps if I had less commitments and was following the path that he too was following, then... maybe something could've actually happened between us. I knew that was beyond proposterous, foolish and naive, and I had so, so many more important reasons for making that decision, but... I knew that it was there too. And y'know... I think that's the first time I've ever actually admitted that to myself.

I sought the opinion of the people who I thought would have the most authority on the matter, and with my mind made up, I got the paperwork from uni. I filled out everything and ticked all the boxes... but something really made me hesitate about sending them back. I held the papers in my hand that would make or break me. Now, I'm about to be super pretentious and for this I apologise, but there was a book we studied for A-Level English Literature called 'Brideshead Revisited' by Evelyn Waugh. There was one quote in this book which I will always remember. It read,  “Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all.” I was at possibly the most difficult crossroads of my life so far. I tried to cast my minds eye into the future and guess what would happen to me either way, but I came to nothing. Everything was just fog. I was petrified. The question hung over me like sickness. Do I stay, or do I go?

Then, in a streak of brilliance, something came to me. Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery. I had the perfect insider into the industry that I dreamed of. I text him straight away asking if perhaps he'd like to meet in London sometime soon, as there were a few things I wanted to ask him. His reponse made me smile. "Sorry Darling, just popped over Vegas for the weekend. Let's meet when I'm back. x"

During this time I'd begun writing a lot. I was writing regularly for an online magazine but also had started to write a novel, which I'd called "Oscar & Ophelia." (This is where the latter half of the name Scarphelia comes from, but that's a story for another day) Anyway, just when I thought Mr X had been the pinnacle of the extraordinary events, another one came along. When I was writing, I found it very inspirational and theraputic to listen to a classical pianist called Ludovico Einaudi. His music is absoloutely beautiful, if you've never heard of him, I BEG you to youtube him right now. So, I was listening to him, when I noticed in the little box where it says where they are next playing, it said 'Trafalgar Square.' I nearly weed myself.

Being such a world-reknowned and famous Italian composer, he only ever played grand European music halls in places like Berlin and Rome. I couldn't believe it when I saw he was not only in England, but so close to me too. I instantly pulled up countless tabs researching the event, and to my sheer and utter delight, I discovered it was a free music festival called BT River of Music, which celebrated cultural diversity in lieu of the Olympic Games. It ran over a Saturday and Sunday with different stages dotted in locations along the River Thames to represent each continent. Einaudi was playing the Europe stage on the Sunday. In a giddy stupour, I went to secure myself a ticket genuinely trembling with excitement and disbelief. But the order didn't process. Confused, I tried again and again, on a variety of different websites. Only then, did I come across the Facebook page which revealed that there were tickets available for every other stage and day, except for the Sunday at the European Stage, with thousands of people begging for Einaudi tickets.

Considering the short amount of time I'd even been in the knowledge of the event, I was surprisingly crushed. I googled his other tour dates, but there was nothing until 2014, and that was in Venice. I was nothing short of crestfallen. But then, in a random impulse, I clicked and ordered tickets for the Saturday of the European Stage. I instantly told myself I was a dick. I'd never even heard of any of the acts performing, and the ones I youtubed sounded awful. But I resolved that I'd lost no money, so just went to bed in a grump.

A few weeks later, a little green ticket came through my door, and I remembered that I'd ordered the stupid thing. The following Saturday which held the event, I didn't have work until late, and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Now, what I find truly remarkable about this tale is that I sat in my bed that Saturday morning and I thought to myself, "If I go today, if I choose to be brave and take a chance... I know Lady Fate will repay me." I sat there, and I knew that something ridiculous would happen to me if I went. I could just feel it in my bones. Because that's just the sort of shit that happens to me.

So, I got my stuff together and set off to London, to an event I didn't want to be at, and was only going because I was annoyed that I couldn't go to the other event and was going out of spite. On a whim, I phone Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery and we arranged to meet that afternoon. At least if Lady Fate tricked me, I'd at least have something to show for my day.

I arrived at Trafalgar Square and it was dismal. The stage looked moderately impressive but there were about ten humans wandering around and the bands were terrible. I still had hours before I had to meet with Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery so I pulled out my notebook and started drafting an article for the online magazine. It was then, for no particular reason, I looked up and to my right. Sitting on the wall of the fountain, notebook and pen in hand, was a boy of around my age. I watched him closely for the next fifteen or so minutes. Then that niggly little voice in my head said, "If you don't ask, you don't get..." "Fortune favours the brave...", so, I took a deep breath, paused, and walked over to the boy.

"Hey um, are you a uh... journalist?" I squeaked and he smiled at me, bemused. We got talking and it turned out that his Father was one of the organisers for the event, and he'd been roped in as a plus one to write reviews on every aspect of how the event went. I thought it was pretty interesting, and quickly an hour had passed. We went to get a drink and laughed at how terrible the music was. Then, he mentioned that he had access to all of the stages as a plus one for both days of the festival, and he'd chosen the Europe Stage. I laughed and told him my bitter tale of how I ended up being at the festival on that day. He found it hilarious and said he'd make sure to enjoy Einaudi twice as much for me.

Before I knew it, I was late for my meeting with Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery. In a panic I said my farewell, we swapped phone numbers and I skipped merrily all the way to Victoria Train Station where I was meeting Fitzwilliam. What I didn't realise is that we were going for high tea in the Five star Grovesnor Hotel in Victoria. I was absoloutely blown away as soon as I entered the hotel, and Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery lead me through the tapestry carpeted and wood panelled corridors to the tea room. I couldn't help but exclaim a low "Woooooh my god" as we entered. I felt like I was suddenly on the Titanic with a tiny Asian Millionaire.

He bought us tea (IT WAS £5 FOR A SMALL TEA) and we got to business. I got out my notebook and we refined all my goals and dreams. We came to the conclusion that although I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do in the industry just yet (becuase I simply wanted to do it all) we discovered that what I wanted to do was entertain. Wether it be through my writing, acting, singing, presenting, fashion designing - I simply was a born entertainer.  He recommended some names to me and said he'd tell some very high contacts of his about me, which thrilled me to the core. I told him my mantra "Forever remain curious, refuse to remain unremarkable" and he smiled. 

"And that's how I'll always now remember you."

Then he asked for my pen and flicked to the very first page of my book where that very mantra was written, and underneath it, wrote "And I will not procrastinate, because I know my time is now." I grinned, because I knew he was right. (But then I was also secretly pissed off that he'd written in my book without asking. I MEAN HE DIDN'T EVEN DO IT NEATLY.) 

Then, I broached the subject of university. I told him my detailed and in depth plans (omitting Mr X) and after half an hour of explanation thought I'd demostrated a brilliant case as to why I was ready to leave. After suveying me for a few seconds, he leant in and said:

"Katie, I cannot begin to tell you how much damage you will do if you leave university now. I wouldn't hire you, and I know you. And if I wouldn't, nobody else sure as hell will. Please, please promise me you won't drop out. I don't care if you graduate with a third, I don't care if you spend your whole time there snorting coke (these were his actual words) just promise me you will get a degree. Change your course or re-do the year or something, anything. Just don't drop out. Katie, this is very, very important."


And as I sat there in front of the millionaire magazine industry tycoon begging me to stay in University, all my so carefully thought out plans flew out the window in an instant, as did my divorce papers from the uni. I would go on to change my course and it be the best thing that I ever did. 

So, with a brain and a notebook laden with ideas and excitement, I headed home. The train was rattling along monotonously, the grey and dreary south speeding past in a suburban smudge, when my phone went off.

I looked down at it. It was a text from the boy from the festival. I laughed as I realised I didn't even know his name. I saved him as 'stranger boy' in my phone. And do you know what that message read?

"Hey, it was really cool meeting you today. Look, I know this might be a bit forward and random but... my Dad says he really doesn't feel too good and is not going to the festival tomorrow. So, sorry if this is a bit weird, but I have a spare ticket to see Einaudi tomorrow night, if you wanted to come?"

*



And that is how one tiny fateful decision to go to the wrong day out of spite, caused me to talk to one person in over a thousand, who just so happens to be the one person in the world with a spare ticket to the right day of the event, and who just so happens asks me to go with them. And that is also how I came to the decision to stay at University and change my course.

I knew it'd pay off and my god did it. The next day at 5pm, I met the boy outside the fences, we were given special VIP wristbands, and I got to watch Ludovico Einaudi live in Trafalgar Square as the midsummer sun set behind us. 



I tell you, Lady Fate is my very best friend.
  Scarlet-Ophelia.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

' Mr X ' - (1/2)



I've been looking forward to telling this part of the story, in fact, it's my favourite story to tell in the whole world. 

Simply, because it is bombastically ridiculous. 

If I didn't have my dear friend Harry to vouch for it actually happening, no-one would even believe me at all. This is possibly the most life-changing and definitely the most exciting of all the extraordinary events. I'm going to pause before I tell this story to say that I am going to change the name of this celebrity to Mr X, for reasonable reasons because of reasons.

A1 : S4 - Life Lessons

Continuing with the second instalment of 'The Days of Silver Uncertainty' - the university phase. For reasonable reasons because of reasons, there are some people which I do not want to name, so they shall all be given stage names. Little-Asian-tuxedo-magazine-owner I am now going to refer to as Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery. Also makes everything a little more exciting. Makes me think of a murder mystery on a 1940's train.

Anyway, Fitzwilliam G. Montgomery turned out to be an invaluable contact, and my first dabblings with the idea of 'making it happen' were inspired by him. We made a lunch date to meet in a few months time to really sit down and discuss my life and career, and how we can help me to achieve that. That comes a little later in the tale. In the meantime, I completed my first year of university and in a wonderfully anticipated and delightfully extravagant fashion; failed. I'd grown a glorious hatred for my course and everyone directly and indirectly involved with it, and came to realise that the only thing I truly did not enjoy about the university process, was the learning side of it. I think that's probably when I realised I had a little problem.

Then, the next two extraordinary events occured, the restaurant events. I'd just started work in a local Italian chain restaurant as a bartender. Everyone there was lovely and the kitchen was full of these sweet old Italian men who looked out for me like their little sister. There was one guy I hadn't met though, an Egyptian chef who was away on holiday. I shall never forget the first thing he said to me.

It was a grey, drizzly boring day and a mind-numbingly dull shift, and I was wiping down the already spotless bar when he came out from the kitchen. He walked to the front of the bar and stood before me with his arms crossed. I'd been introduced to him briefly, but we hadn't spoken yet.

"What are you doing." It was not a question. He had the voice of Louis Armstrong or Tom Waits.

"I'm... cleaning the bar" I smiled.

"What are you doing here."

"Uh... working?"

"What are you doing HERE." My smile faded quickly as I realised what he meant. I had nothing to say to him. Out of nowhere, he says, "What is your dream, Katie."

"I'm not sure, um..." I said in a small voice. "To act?"

"Then what are you doing here." I began to speak but he interrupted me. "I don't want to hear excuses, I want to hear what you are going to do next. Do you not see that it is wrong for a person like you to be in a place like this? You could do anything you want, you know that don't you? How old are you."

"...19"

"19! You have the world in your hands. Listen to me, Katie. 'This' doesn't last forever. What you have now is so precious, and you must not let that slip through your fingers. You do not want to end up like me. I am 52 years old from Cairo and I am here in Hatfield working as a chef in a chain restaurant. Do you think that was my dream?"

I said nothing.

"Just promise me one thing, Katie." He dropped his voice low and I just stared. "Don't ever let yourself become mediocre."

And then he was gone. It was straight out of a cheesy Hollywood blockbuster. I felt like I'd been emotionally and spiritually assaulted. The fact that he was almost a complete stranger too, just took me aback even more. That's when I started to wake up, because he was right. I felt like I'd been waiting to hear that my entire life. 

Trying to push university out of my mind and with the idea that I'd just re-take my failed modules when Uni started up again in September, I moved home for the summer. I'd managed to get a transfer to the restaurant of the same chain in my town, and started working full time there over summer, mostly just to take my mind off of the uni issue.

The other restaurant was just as enjoyable - there were more people my age and no randomly prophetic Egyptian Chefs. The days slipped by quite easily and I got a bit of money behind me. The only thing that was lacking was any iota of a clue as to what I was going to do about my life. That was when I saw the poster on the wall..

I'd come to the halfhearted conclusion that I was going to drop out of uni. But I had no conviction in that, it was nothing more than a possibility. But then I saw the poster, another sign from Lady Fate. It was in the staff room of the restaurant, I'd never seen it before and it had nothing to do with the business, it was just... there. And this one particular day, on the day that I really needed to see it, I noticed it. This may all sound pretentious self-help book drivel but this all genuinely happened to me. And when things like this are put in your path... I feel like they are put there for a reason, and you'd be a fool to ignore it. This poster was just words, and read:

"This is your life. Do what you love and do it often, If you don't like something change it. If you don't like your job, quit. If you don't have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love. Stop over-analysing; every emotion is beautiful. Life is simple. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart and to new things and new people; we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you to find yourself. Some opportunities only ever come once, so seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, So go out out there and start creating, live your dream and wear your passion proudly."

And that was me done. Literally done.

In a frenzy, after my shift I went home and started drawing up some plans as to what I could do instead. I was a little all over the place so I skyped Sam, the girl I went to the novel launch with who was currently in America. I stayed up til 5am talking to her, and mostly she just assured me that if I truly believed in the way fate seems to interact with me in strange ways throughout my life, then whichever choice I make will be the right one. I remember I started to cry. I felt I was at this overwhelmingly important fork in the road in my life, and the decision I now had to make would change my life irrevocably. The pressure was inflicting. Then Sam said something to me about one of our friends Shauna, which really hit home.

Shauna was a girl from our Uni who we both know through cheerleading. I was quite good friends with her but I didn't really know much about her, as they were all seniors and I was a first year. But although she was a senior, Shauna was a first year too, which I didn't really understand until this conversation.

"When I get down about the future or confused as to what I want to do and what I need to do, I think about Shauna. Shauna came here when I did and started this uni on a degree that she really didn't like. She stuck out two years of it, with her dreams firmly set on doing the study abroad programme and studying to America. She then went to America briefly one summer to meet some friends. But due to an error she outstayed her visa by accident. She was deported back to England, and banned from The USA. Just like that, her dreams were just stripped from her.
So do you know what she did? Instead of continuing on her course she hated and letting her dream slip right past her, she pulled right out of the whole thing in her second year, and started completely from scratch.She could have easily have thrown up her hands and thrown in the towel on everything, but she didn't, because that girl is strong. So whilst all her friends around her were graduating, she went right back to the beginning of first year on a new course that she enjoyed, with her heart firmly set on acing all her grades and studying abroad in Australia. All she does is work to get the best grades and work to save up money to get to Australia. She has three jobs and takes any temporary positions available, but do you ever see her spend that money on herself? Do you ever see her out partying in the forum? No. She is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met and I am lucky enough to call that girl my best friend. She has worked her way up from nothing, despite the odds being monumentally stacked against her, and she has fought and fought hard."

The very next day, I was looking through Facebook and saw something which warmed every fibre of my soul. Shauna had been accepted to study abroad in the Australian University.

Ever since then, two things have happened. 1. I now see Shauna in a light of such sheer respect that I never really thought I'd see someone so close to me . 2. Shauna will always remain one of the most influential people I know. I owe so much to her and she'll never even know.

More to come on the days of Silver Uncertainty to come, the next one features a celebrity date. Eeeep.

Scarlet-Ophelia.