This is a bit of a finger up to someone I used to work with and a bit of a statement about not judging a book by its cover.
Someone I used to work with thinks I can be too placid, a bit of a wet fart maybe? I don’t know – they’ve never actually said that bit but I am just guessing. The thing is I don’t just lose my temper over anything – I make sure it’s worthwhile. I also don’t take it out on people that had nothing to do with it. If that makes me too placid so be it, I actually think it’s more about being an adult and being in control of my emotions, but there you go.
But all this got me thinking about how people judge so much about someone’s character just by looking at them. Wrong really. Especially if you only see them at work. Especially when you are like me and not stuck to an image – I used to be so tied to looking a certain way that I quite like keeping people guessing these days.
I think it’s true to say that most people have a side of them that is more dominant at work, with their friends, on their own and with their partner. None of these sides is fake but it’s just the way you maybe fine tune yourself, and personally I think you should do this at work. Not be fake but you are there in a professional capacity so you know, be professional!
Anyway – I digress a little.
I said something yesterday about when I used to smoke…..this was met with ‘You used to smoke wow get you!’ um what? Does it make me cool that I used to smoke? What!?! I gave up 2 ½ years ago but I don’t sing and dance about it as I don’t think it’s worth singing and dancing about – I was a fool to have started smoking really – especially seeing as I have asthma. But yeah I used to smoke, a shit load, make of it what you will.
The response to that shocked me. How could someone smoking or not smoking be such a big deal? What sort of picture are people painting of me?
Butter wouldn’t melt?
See, just as I was turning 20 I was taking medication every day for the ulcers that were forming in my stomach due to how much I drank. I didn’t even think I was that bad. I was coming to London every weekend for long weekends and was drinking a lot I guess. It wasn’t until I had to do a medical check and lied and only put down some of my weekend drinking as my total consumed in a week and was met with a ‘Wow this could get you signed off work as an alcoholic!’ did it make me think. For like two seconds. I laughed it off. See, I was cool!
I started going out with this guy, we’ll call him ‘M’. We could quite often be found drinking at 4am miles from home on a school night. We attracted a lot of abuse actually. We were both loud and obnoxious, his band was just taking off and I was just moving to London. We were the King and Queen of mod (it’s a stage I think so many people moving to London go through). My old drinking buddy was at this point in rehab I think. Later to become a prostitute and some harrowing things happened there. Thankfully there is a happy ending to that story, but it’s not mine to tell. I was known as trouble I think you could say, the girl that could talk a million miles an hour and would drink anyone under the table. Anyway, I started a job. I dressed up nice for the interview and got in fine. Even managed to negotiate more money straight away. I worked hard and I played harder. All around my desk at work was a pool of glitter, slowly dripping from me as the day went on. It had been asked ‘What happened to the sweet innocent thing that walked through this office door?’ it was a joke really as I was still me and I was promoted into management so I was doing well but the stories I had to tell each day made people laugh. I once had my boss call me outside for a smoke. She pushed a roll of £20 notes in my hand and begged me to eat. I looked shocked. My 5 packs for £1 noodles that I had for lunch were food right? I only did that so I had money to go out on later. ‘M’ was a distant memory by then and I had moved in with my friends ‘G, R and L’ and man was that a party household. Along with ‘A’ and ‘D’ and ‘N’ we hit the clubs, we hit the gigs, I brought half the club back to the flat and would become known as the tea and cheese and toast girl. Well I looked after my guests don’t you know. At some point ‘M’ reappeared but was thankfully shooed away quickly enough. I was getting known as the girl that was always up for going out.
Natural energy kept me going, fuelled by drink for some time. All the bands I loved back home were starting to become people I knew.
Cat Power told me I talked too much. Tiny (Ultrasound) and his girlfriend wanted me to go round for tea. David (comet gain) would dance with me every other weekend at the Betsey, he later introduced me to Kathleen Hanna and made my day! He also introduced me to Ian (Make up) ‘M’s band had recently opened for them and David said I was M’s ex, Ian sympathised with me for ever going out with him in the first place which made me chuckle. I looked a lot like Michelle from the Make up at the time and made a few friends based on initial mistaken identity. The world became a blur of bands, phone numbers written on my arm, gigs, parties, drinking, annoying the neighbours. They were some of the best times of my life. I even had a stalker and thought it meant I’d made it. I even had to run to the police one night walking home due to some idiot who wouldn’t let go. I had a knife pulled on me by a group of about 12 lads and somehow I talked my way out of it. I remembered that incident as the day I got into a strangers car and shouted ‘Follow that bus’ – the strangers helped me out – they weren’t the bad guys.
Then there was the dabbling with things I shouldn’t have. I was fine. But I think I have to admit my poor body was broken. I barely ate. I barely slept. I just went out to party. I wasn’t just known as the tea and cheese on toast girl anymore I was also known as the girl who never slept.
I loved it.
I see that as the before Ali.
Before an abusive relationship. Before 5 years of being ill.
When I came back to London I naturally seemed to fall back into that life. My first night out and I ended up hanging out with Shane McGowan – I could understand everything he said – I don’t know if that says more about me or him. I would spend lunch breaks at work sneaking off to do music related things, I was in a video for The Long Blondes, I went to a secret gig and got interviewed……
I was back out drinking til all hours. I remember a quiet pizza night for my birthday that ended up with me waking up in another part of town with my head in a pool of gin. I had to go to work that day too……..life became a whirl of gigs and parties and clubs again. Then I started to get ill with the whole tumour thing that I have blogged about before and don’t really need to do so again here, but I started to hang out nearer to home. This then led to a new group of friends, which led to many a pub lock in, many a 3am hunt for whiskey on a school night. I hung out with a guy we’ll call ‘G’ who made me realise that I really love to push my self destruct button. I love the thrill of all that. There is only one way that can end up.
I knew it but didn’t want to stop. I get that rush of being on a rollercoaster and I feel free.
But I know that it will ultimately kill me. There is only so much a body can take.
Mine was shutting me down.
None of this is spectacular or amazing – it’s just youth.
And that’s the thing. I am no longer a youth – I am an adult and I guess this is just growing up. I wanted real friends, not just acquaintances. I knew I’d always want to push that button, I couldn’t seem to learn to stop that so I knew I had to distance myself from that.
People think I am about 10 years younger than I am. That might explain why they think I should be out of my tree every weekend still.
I saw this break people but I still kept going – it almost broke me but I still kept going.
All that time out being ill made me stop. I thought and I changed track.
Now I am studying a writing course and working at a costume house. I see my friends maybe twice a week for a nice catch up. I visit family and I eat! I have hobbies for the first time in a long time and am really enjoying learning how to make things, spending time with my partner and just learning to enjoy the simpler things in life. I notice so much more every day.
If that makes me boring so be it. I have lived about ten lifetimes already and am ready for the quieter life – the life where I give back rather than just taking.
This is a very condensed version and maybe one day I’ll write my life story, but for now – just remember not to judge a book by its cover!!!!!