Barista Crush #6: Like normal people

She sees me before I see her. “Hey!” she says and smiles.

“Hey!” I say and smile back.

I have just emerged from the lift and I look like shit. Of course I do – four hours sleep, messy hair, no make-up and I am wearing an old grey cagoule that my mother bought at a jumble sale for 99p.

She was on ‘holiday’ she says, finishing her dissertation, doing job placements. There is no coffee counter between us. She isn’t in uniform and my lanyard is hidden. Here we are, in a small frustrated crowd of folks waiting for the lift, chatting like normal people, like acquaintances, like two old friends.

She is tired. I am tired. We compare tiredness. Perhaps I should tell her I am so tired, I need a lie down and would she care to join me (here, let’s get you out of those wet clothes…)?

I don’t, of course.

Her lift arrives, others get in, but she keeps chatting. This happens at least three times. As if she’s in no hurry to leave.

Tomorrow, I’m definitely putting make-up on.
coffee love

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The Queen of Procrastination

Aaaaargh!!! Staring at a blank screen, writing something, deleting it, wondering how you ever managed to complete anything before when the drivel that is coming out of you now is so rancid, the prose so decrepid and puerile that you should be taken in front of the Judge of Writing, court martialled and then shot. You are that judge, of course. The nasty little voice saying nasty little things about what you’re getting down on paper, on screen. You are the “Creative devil” laughing at any attempts you make.

You set yourself a challenge last week to write a blog every day for the month of May. Already you have failed. This is no reason not to get back up and carry on anyway. You have learned this, over the years.

This morning you write three lines about a trip to the Rivoli Ballroom on Saturday night, decide it’s crap, look at Facebook, watch every interview of the entire cast of The Crimson Field on the BBC website and then an interview with the scriptwriter, Sarah Phelps, which leads you to procrastinate further on the BBC Writersroom blog, where you find this: Getting through Writer’s Block: Established television writers share their strategies for getting through writer’s block.

Your favourite tip from this video comes from Toby Whithouse, writer of Being Human and No Angels, who says

What you need to do is to book a room above a pub for about two months time, tell all of your friends there is going to be a reading of your script and I guarantee you, you will get that script written. Because sometimes the only way to overcome writer’s block is to literally push through it.

 

This tip speaks to you because you are driven by deadlines and fear. Specifically the fear of completely humiliating yourself in front of an audience. It’s the reason why writing workshops are so great – just the idea of reading your work out in front of others forces you to work harder on it, to make it less shit. More importantly, to finish what you start.

As the self-proclaimed Queen of Procrastination, you can sniff out every excuse, every trick, every lie people tell themselves in order to get out of what they’re actually supposed to be doing. When you run the Queer Writers Retreat for example, the first thing you do is get the writers to hand in their mobile ‘phones. You all chat and laugh and eat during the breaks, but when they sit back down in the Writing Room, a hush descends and the gentle tapping of keyboards and scratching of pens takes over. They’ve already agreed their goals for the day, they are there for one reason only. There is no distraction, no escape. It works.

There is of course, what you like to call “Productive procrastination”. Would you get any cleaning done if you weren’t putting off doing something else? The scarier the task, the cleaner the home. In fact, most of the boring chores you do seem to be a result of putting off doing something else. Sometimes you write stuff to avoid writing the thing you feel you’re supposed to be writing. And sometimes that avoidance writing turns out to be far more satisfying. This entire blog post, for example, has been an excercise in procrastination (you were supposed to be writing about Saturday night, remember?).

Be stubborn (you were born that way, you might as well utilise it). Force yourself, allow yourself, to write any old shit. As long as you’re getting something down, it is never a waste of time. You can make it good later. Remember the maxim: Don’t get it right, get it written.

Then get it right.

 

Why you should never walk and text at the same time

DANGER!

DANGER!

It’s National Walking Month! I discovered this in the delightfully named article The slow death of purposeless walking”, in which the author reports the connection between purposeless walking and creative thinking. Apparently we’re far too distracted when we walk.

 

Many now walk and text at the same time. There’s been an increase in injuries to pedestrians in the US attributed to this. One study suggested texting even changed the manner in which people walked.

 

Hmmm…I myself no longer walk and text at the same time *smug face*. Partly because I started to practice mindfulness but mainly because of something that happened last year.

It was a quiet and sunny Sunday afternoon. I was walking to the train station, texting on my phone when I became aware of a hooded man running across the road towards me. He ran with such urgency that I prepared myself to deal with whatever crisis had obviously happened. But it wasn’t my help he wanted. It was my phone.

“GIMME YOUR PHONE! GIMME YOUR PHONE!”  he shouted and grabbed it, but I squeezed it tight in my hand and as we grappled, I held on and held on and held on. He shouted some more. I think I shouted “NO!”. Eventually he gave up and ran across the road to where a car was waiting for him. As it sped off, several pedestrians ran over to check I was okay. I was shaken up, adrenalin flooding my body as I became fully aware of what had just happened and how lucky I was to still have my phone. It dawned on me that things could have been far, far worse. In fact, why the hell didn’t I just let him have the damn thing and reduce the risk of being hurt?

In these situations, our fight-or-flight instinct takes over and mine had fought like a tiger. My arms ached for a long time after because I had held on so tight. When the police finally arrived and listened to my statement they asked how, if the mugger had his hands on my phone, did I manage to keep hold of it? “I don’t know”, I said, “I just wouldn’t let go”.  What I didn’t mention, could never mention, was why…

The text I was sending at the time was innocent enough, but there was No Fucking Way I was letting anyone see the hundreds of messages that had gone back and forth between the recipient and I. After several months of vigorous international sexting, my sim card was seeped in the juices of the finest filth, smut and kink. As I wrestled my phone from the mugger, it was not physical harm I was scared of, but rather strangers seeing the dark and dirty recesses of my mind. That and the fact that I kinda wanted to hang on to those for, y’know, quiet times.

My advice: while walking, keep it in yer pants*. Look at the trees, listen to the birds, smell the flowers. Save the sexting for boring train journeys 😉

Happy National Walking Month!

*Or ‘trousers’, for the British among you.

 

 

 

Queer Film Festival Now Open for Submissions!

Queer Film Fest - 30 August - 2 Sept 2014

Queer Film Fest – 30 August – 2 Sept 2014

 

***SUBMISSION DEADLINE – 4TH JULY 2014***

As someone who describes the cinema as “my church”, I admit I got a little over-excited when I was asked to be involved with this year’s Wotever DIY Film Festival. It’s by and for queers. It’s independent. It’s do-it-yourself fantastic. And it’s going to take place in some of the most inspirational cinemas in London. Weeee!

So grab anything with a lens and get shooting. Here’s what you need to know:

This is the fourth Wotever Film Festival and the biggest one yet, with films, discussions and more over the August bank holiday in multiple venues, and we want to screen your creations!

We are looking for shorts (3-15mins) and mid-length films (15 – 30 mins). We will consider some feature-length films although please be aware we have very limited space for these. All films need to be DIY or independent films of any genre on a Queer theme. We have a particular interest in films about queer people and queer culture reclaiming space. Other than that, our only criteria is that they must be in keeping with our Wotever ethos and as such will not consider submissions that are racist, trans*/homophobic, religiously intolerant, ableist, sizeist or in any way prejudiced or exclusionary towards a particular group or identity.

We welcome films that push the boundaries of queer thinking and ideology, are thought-provoking and progressive. Saying that, we also appreciate a nice queer-meets-queer love story, slap stick comedy or music video we can dance to.

This a film festival by and for the queer community, and we especially would love to see submissions from people who may feel under-represented in the queer community, such as people from QTIPOC, trans and disabled groups as well as people with refugee status. With this in mind please share this with your friends, lovers and family and let’s get the word out to as many corners of our wonderful queer community as possible.

For submission forms, questions, suggestions or queries contact Theresa and Tara at woteverfilm@gmail.com Please do not send your film until you have received a submission form.

The Goldberg Guide to Writing (in 200 Words)

1. Read. Read a lot. Read everything you can get your grubby little hands on. For years, decades.

2. Live an interesting life. Make terrible decisions. Fall in love with drunken idiots. At crossroads, take the path strewn with fallen trees, pot-holes and gnarled branches clawing at your sleeves.

2a. Alternatively, live a life so excruciatingly dull that you are forced to live in your imagination.

3. Be grateful for your fucked-up family. Emotional blackmail, Olympian feats of denial and traumatic get-togethers are literary gold! Whether you write down everything they do as a coping mechanism or merely revenge, all the raw drama of life is here.  If you ever run out of material, you could do worse than telephone your relatives for a chat about what a disappointment you are.

4. Remember that the blank page is nothing to be scared of.  Remind yourself of this often.  Every day, in fact. One day you might even believe it.

5. Write thousands of words of pretentious bilge. Fill a forest-worth of notebooks with future embarrassment.  Fail again and again. At some point, fail better.

6. Shut the door. Sit. Pick up a pen. Repeat steps 4 and 5. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Barista Crush #5: Hair today…

She’s back. She. Is. Back.

I get in the longest queue to see her, readying myself by pressing my hair and straightening my posture, practising what to say. Do not, I tell myself, scream “I missed you!!”. Relax. Relax!

The queue gradually gets smaller.

Finally, she sees me and her face breaks into a big smile.  And the other girl, the one on the coffee machine asks what I want, but I don’t even have to say because she remembers.

“Hey”, she says.

“Hey” I smile. “Where you been?”

“Oh, night shifts”, she says and makes a face.

“Oh, that’s rough”

“You cut your hair”

“Yep”, I say and turn my head so she can see how short it is at the back. (It was really long until I had it all chopped off at the brilliant Barberette a couple of weeks ago. I bloody love it).

“But why?” she says. My heart sinks a little.

“It was time”.

“Oh. I really love long hair” she says, indicating the length of hers.

I pay and when I take my coffee and say thank you, she’s already onto the next customer, her smile gone.

coffee love

Barista Crush Part #4: Crushed

Reader, you’ve waited long enough. It’s time to update you on what’s been happening. So, here goes…

Nowt, nothing, nada, zilch, bugger all.

That’s right – my Latte Lady has disappeared and I haven’t seen her for over two weeks. Every morning I go down there with my heart beating a little faster in anticipation and then…nothing. Just an overly-hot coffee from a bored barista. I get back to the office, look at my colleague L and say three sad words – She wasn’t there . Then L gives me the sympathy look and says Oh, maybe next time and smiles encouragingly. I try and drink my coffee, but I can’t because it’s too damn hot.

coffee love

Barista Crush Part #3: “Hey”

She is not there. She was not there on Friday either. My coffee is too hot and laced with disappointment.

Last week, the following happens:

  1. She remembers my coffee order before I even say anything. She remembers me.
  2. I ask if she’s studying as well as working here. She is, for a Masters. We have an entire conversation about non-caffeine-related things.
  3. The next day, when I see her, she smiles (that smile!) and instead of saying “Hello, what can I get you?” she says “Hey”. Hey. As if we know each other now. As if I’m not just a customer.
  4. We begin to ask each other how the other is doing, what kind of day we’re having, how we feel about our jobs, the other stuff we’re doing. After each encounter I return to my office grinning.

But today she is not there. And she wasn’t there Friday either.

I shall need more coffee tomorrow, though.

coffee love

Barista Crush Part #2: Even more beautiful

Today she is tired and pissed off and this only makes her sexier*. No-one is paying attention when she asks “who’s next?” and she throws her hands up and looks at me as if to say ‘I don’t know why I bother’. I smile as if to say ‘I know exactly what you mean’.
 
She makes my perfect coffee.
 
“Thank you” I say, “hope your day gets better” and she smiles a huge and glorious smile and her face changes into something even more beautiful.
 
*sigh*
 
*for some reason – best not to analyse what this says about me