Masquerade, paper faces on parade…

I went out for Hallowe’en tonight. I really like Hallowe’en.

I never used to. We never acknowledged it in my house when I was growing up. I think because it was less known in Britain then and people only heard about the concept of celebrating scary things or evil things and so they rejected it. It’s gradually crept into public acceptance now though and I guess most kids will go trick or treating at least once in their lives.

I actually did go once.  A new girl had joined our school; her dad was a pilot and they’d been living in Hawaii. I bet rainy old Britain, although her original homeland, was a bit of a after that. Anyway, she had, of course, celebrated Hallowe’en all her life so she decided to throw a party to show us all how it was done. And it was done AWESOMELY. She had a pinata, a haunted house with different games and challenges, strange and wonderful American sweets and then we all trick or treated around the neighbourhood. To a bunch of Brit kids this was all very exotic. I don’t think I’d ever seen a pinata in reality before that night!

Of course we all dressed up as well. Me being me (and never quite managing to get the hang of whatever it was that teenage girls were meant to do); I decided to go as Anakin Skywalker. Because I really fancied him. See: half girly, half Star Wars fan supergeek.

My grandma made me a fantastic costume. She’s always been excellent at stuff like that. All I have to do is show her a couple of photos from a movie or whatever and she will whip up a fabulous, detailed outfit in a few days. Bloody incredible.

Which brings me nicely back to the present: this year I went non-specific. I went as: Vampire Masquerade Ball Lady. I would like to state here and now: I looked brilliant.

I need to cut back on my colon usage. Tis getting ridiculous. I really enjoy colons and their pal the semi-colon though.

Anyway. I had two reasons for my costume.

1. A year ago I bought a gorgeous, full-length, gold evening gown for £9, down from at least £60. I knew I didn’t need it but I JUST COULDN’T LEAVE IT THERE. And I didn’t need it because I never go to places where that attire is appropriate. More’s the pity. Despite spending a lot of time in the past year trying to convince my friends to attend a masked ball or, at the very least, a white-tie event, I still hadn’t had a chance to wear it!

2. I also owned a very beautiful genuine Venetian mask. I’d packed it away for a while as my ex-housemate and ex-best friend had given it to me shortly before our lives together imploded and I felt too awkward and annoyed to look at it. We recently got back on speaking terms though so I felt much better about it. It also went perfectly with the dress and so I knew that I had to make this year’s outfit out of the two.

I added some fangs, glizty jewellery, a lace fan and a snazzy up-do (so pleased with that: I never put my hair up) and I was away. Well. After adding some nipple-covers cos I couldn’t wear a bra with the backless dress, I was away.

When it was time to take the mask off at the end of the night I really didn’t want to. It was oddly comfortable. My face felt absolutely naked without it. It just felt wrong.

And I guess the point I’ve come to in a roundabout way is that one can become used to almost anything, often much quicker than you would ever think. Even something you would expect to be challenging and uncomfortable to deal with.

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I have a dream…

Last night I dreamt that this blog had become REALLY popular. It was ever so exciting. There were more comments than I could keep up with and I had written a tonne of posts.

Mind you, the night before that I dreamt about a radio station for ducks. I worked there as a producer for two duck presenters, one of whom was named Sweetbill.

I don’t think my dreams are prophetic. Or if they are; the world is about to get a whole lot weirder…

Anyway. Not what I came here to write. I’ve just gotten back from seeing ‘On the Road’ which I thought was surprisingly good – both because I didn’t think the book would translate well into a film and because I hadn’t really heard any good reviews so far. But I liked it. They captured the drifting feel of the book… I feel perhaps it is best as a companion to the book. It illuminates what the reader imagines and brings the music and the look of everything sharply to life.

It’s been a while since I read Jack Kerouac’s chronicle of his travels across America and, although I confess I found it very hard to read, there was something about it that appealed to me a lot. Something that spoke to me and put into words the way I often feel inside. I loved the lust for life that the characters showed; the desire to be something, to explore the world, to really really live. I don’t wish to idealise or fetishise the way they lived or their attitudes to women, to responsibilities to others and so forth. But the heart of it, the vividness and the rush and flow of thoughts and feelings: that all rings true to me.

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Seriousness, Sadness and Shopping

I have to go shopping tomorrow. Clothes shopping. Now I’m not a stereotypical girly-girl who adores clothes shopping but, when in the right mood, I sometimes rather enjoy it. Quite often in fact. Occasionally it seems like a hellish task from hell and I hate all clothes, all shops and all people in a five mile radius. But often it’s not bad.

However, the reason I have to shop tomorrow is unusual. I have to find something to wear for a funeral…

I don’t think I’ll talk about the funeral itself; I don’t think I can put voice to the feelings I have about that. Maybe after it I’ll feel like I need to write it down but right now I can’t. Instead I’m going to focus on something as utterly trivial as clothes because sometimes you just need to cling to the surface stuff so you don’t get all pulled down into sadness. Sometimes you just need that.

I’ve never been to a funeral before. I’ve known several people who have died but for various reasons funerals have not been something I’ve experienced. I’m kind of scared but there is absolutely no question about whether I’ll go: being there is the right and honourable thing to do.

I know that one is supposed to wear black. And here is where it gets difficult. It seems insanely superficial to think about clothes at a time like that. Who cares what you’ve got on: someone has died.

And yet perhaps it isn’t so crazy. In times of crisis and sadness people need something to hold onto. I always feel like cultures with more ritual surrounding death must be better off – it gives you a way to carry on. I’m sure it doesn’t lessen the pain or loss; it just gives you rules to cling to, something to define the following days. Motions to perform while your mind and heart are whirling off into that ocean of grief.

Here we have very little ritual and so what we do have matters. Hence I know that my part is to be there, to support my family and to do so in the correct, respectful attire. Smart and black.

And I have nothing like that in my wardrobe. Plenty of black. A smattering of smart. But nothing overlapping. So I must go shopping. So I begin to think about my outfit. And my brain’s normal mindset kicks in:

BRAIN: Planning a specific outfit for a specific occasion?

ME: Yeah I am actually.

BRAIN: And the theme is black and smart you say?

ME: Not sure I’d call it a theme Brain but basically yeah. Any thoughts?

BRAIN: Ooh, a challenge! Well, you could buy that dress you saw the other day, you know that nice fitted one? Now, shoes, shoes, shoes: aha! Black low heels! Tiny bit of silver on them but still formal. And hmm, ooh, your favourite: jewellery! Now pearls might be nice…

And so forth. And then I realise what I am doing: I am enjoying planning my outfit and thinking that it will be a pretty good one. I immediately feel utterly terrible. And ever so shallow.

It hits me again. My stupid clothes do not matter in the slightest. We’ve lost someone. His wife and son are devastated. What else can possibly matter?

What can I do?

At a time like this you struggle to know. Nothing you do can bring back the person you’ve lost. The one thing you wish you could do. Nothing can make it ok. And so your brain skitters off; doesn’t always deal with it well. Clings to normal mindsets, normal processes that you do every time you plan on going to any event.

I think, perhaps, that is all you can do. Hang on to normality and try to behave with honour and dignity. If your intentions are true and good then it’s ok if your brain gets confused and acts stupid for a bit. Because all of a sudden nothing is right, nothing is normal. So you just… try to hang on.

And I’ll be there on the day. I’ll dress subtly, appropriately – I’ll do all that is polite and respectful. And when I am there all that will matter is my family. All of them.

Left Unsaid

There are always those things, things you want to say or wish you could say but you just can’t. And there are plenty of reasons why keeping one’s mouth shut could be the best decision one could possibly make – perhaps the niggling thought is too blunt? Too childish? Too potentially explosive? Or maybe it’s just something that needs to be dealt with in a different way. This, of course, does not necessarily stop the niggling.

As someone who constantly over-analyzes everything, I am all too familiar with these scritchy little bits of thought that hover at the edge of the mind. I try to let them go; I breathe in, I breathe out and I think ‘Let it go, Crimineaux, let it go’. I just don’t think I’m zen enough.

And so here, in the hopes that shouting into the ether will release these pests, are my top five ‘Things I really, really shouldn’t say….’

5. ‘I actually don’t think I find that funny. I think I tricked myself’ (A show I watched and then got loads of my friends into but, on reflection, a show that has rarely actually made me laugh. It’s too late to clear it up now, nor does it really matter.)

4. ‘Stop trying to always top everyone’s stories. If I have a cold; you have the flu. If I know someone who broke their leg, you know someone whose leg spontaneously fell off one day. Well congrats on that. And it’s not just that – it’s telling me also how my story is WRONG. How I must be wrong because you knew someone… BLAH BLAH BLAH’ (Acquaintance who drives me round the bend. But our mutual dislike isn’t going away and it’s best if we just attempt civility for everyone’s sake!)

3. ‘I find your attitude to alcohol sad and extremely childish. We are not 13 year old kids who stole a bottle of cider to impress their mates.’ (This may need saying but it’ll be in a much less confrontational way. The person drinks very rarely but when they do they get desperate to impress and prove themselves interesting.)

2. ‘You are a terrible friend. We arrange for me to travel to see you and stay over; I text the day before to sort arrival time and you go: ‘Oh yeah sorry, something came up. You can’t come’. Then you don’t contact me again until your latest ‘disaster’ when you want sympathy and attention. You don’t ask about me; even when I mention that I’ve been ill. And when I say some nice words you shoot them down as predicted. Cos nothing is ever right is it? I’m done.’ (Something that really does need communicating but not that bluntly!)

1. ‘I don’t know how you can fail so hard at seeing how attractive you are. Your deep, sparkling eyes are actually beautiful. And the lazy smile that stretches across your face when I make you laugh makes my heart feel like it’s jumping inside me.’ (I am freakin’ never saying that. T’would be disastrous.)

Still going!

Ok so I very nearly let this blog die. Which is pathetic. I can’t keep up a bit of typing for more than a week even though I have A LOT of free time right now? This will not do.

I mean, I fully realise that no-one is reading this. And that’s ok. The purpose of this blog is merely to practice: to practice writing short, coherent posts, to practice keeping something going (oops) and to practice blogging in generally before I unleash my Big Idea on the world. I suppose I should also practice getting readers. I’ll work on that.

I may also want to practice spelling practice as I have no idea whether, in this context, it’s meant to have an S or a C towards the end. Not a clue. I’ve stuck with C so far and it seems to be working for me.