Like the machine I purchased to dry out vegetables (great for lettuce! amazing if you want to make zucchini chips!), I feel as if I’ve horribly neglected you, and I want to apologise. But unlike the machine that dries vegetables, I still want to see you and talk to you. That bulky annoyance needs to find a yard sale pronto so I can have more storage space in the kitchen.
Don’t worry, I haven’t got married, met someone, or even been on a date (hell no! How does that happen?) but I feel that my entire attitude to life has shifted in the last six months.
I’m busy being creative.
I’m busy with my social life.
I’m busy working.
Not just busy in the way that Tim Kreider described in the New York Times recently. I’m busy enjoying myself.
This small statement is huge.
It’s hard to describe how hard the perfect storm of the recession, the end of a relationship and turning 40 was on my spiritual being. There were so many elements to deal with; lack of money, being so far from loved ones, realising I would never have children, being lonely, losing my one major financial investment, coping with debt, with homelessness, with the prospect that what I did for a living now seemed obsolete, having my heart-broken and not knowing how I would ever trust anyone again (that one still needs a lot of work). That’s a LOT for one woman to deal with.
So I pressed a massive reset button. I let go. Because you know what, I couldn’t do anything else.
I’d burned myself out from working so hard to try to stem the tide, from trying to control the uncontrollable and from trying to stop myself from thinking too deeply. By the end of last year, I was a shadow of myself. Even my mum said when she saw me for the first time in a year, ‘I’ve never, ever seen you like this.’ I sat on the sofa at her house for two weeks eating sausages, and watching daytime telly. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t care.
Slowly, I found myself coming back from the precipice. I used sleeping pills for six weeks (and six weeks only) to get my sleeping back on track. One thing I’ve discovered iss that you can’t fix anything if you haven’t been sleeping.
And I let go.
Somehow, decisions were made. Little ones at first. Then when my strength returned, I addressed the major issues.
I decided to live by the mantra, ‘Do less, achieve more’.
Other new mantras:
I will not work for free.
If you don’t reply to my email after the third time, I don’t care anymore.
If you’re a guy who hasn’t got his shit together, I’m not interested.
If you like drama, whining and crazy, go bother someone else.
And if you haven’t been a friend, don’t try to start now.
In other words, I found my self-respect.
And somewhere along the line – and just after I’d told the universe that I was happy to walk away from everything I ever knew – work started to find me again.
An editor I knew in London – like an angel – decided that she would champion my cause. I now have a new focus. I also went back to my creative work, and realised I needed to start writing again. That my stuff was good, and it would be a crime not to pursue my screen-writing dreams having put so much into it.
What happened after I made that decision? I started meeting people who inspired me. Found myself at key social events which acted as a call to action. A producer came into my life and now two projects are in motion. My journalism is starting to fulfill me again, and I found a great place to live.
This is important. I’m a homebody but at the end of last year I had nothing but a boot/trunk-full of possessions having given everything away including the entire contents of a 60sq ft storage unit (some was sold, some junked, lots donated). I am not rich by any standards – in fact I’ve barely made it above the breadline for two years – but I gave things away because it seemed like the right thing to do. As I said, it was a reboot.
Things are now coming back to me. Last week, a friend who was moving to another country gave me so much stuff I almost cried. I reclaim lost furniture from street corners. And I’m enjoying the process of finding new things.
I had a birthday last weekend. A low-key celebration with good friends at a venue in Hollywood. I wore new trousers from H&M, drank too much prosecco and was amazed at a) no-one believe how old I was (44), and b) almost everyone said “I couldn’t have found this many people to invite to a party in LA”. I didn’t even invite everyone. It made me realise that I have a lot of friends here, so somewhere along the line I must have been doing something right.
I’ve been here for just over five years now. LA’s been very hard on me. Beyond challenging. It almost broke me. But I love this city. It amuses me. It energises me and best of all, I now feel that I can still achieve some of the dreams that belong to my 21-year-old self. Although I have to say, that 21-year-old needs a good slap. My dreams are tempered with reality now that I’m 44.
No fairytale wedding, no perfect kids, no Oscar (hmmm, still a possibility I suppose), no fake stupid life inspired by commercials and pop videos. I just want to pay the bills, write and stay healthy.
Things are by no means perfect. It’s hard to be this age with absolutely no security whatsoever. No home, no bulging bank statement and no partner to rely on.
But now that I’ve decided to get up every day with a new focus, life is easier. If not always easy.
So that’s why Spinny hasn’t been around so much. Spinny was/is a cloak, or a conduit to share my fears. My shift in focus means I haven’t had as much time for introspection and self-pity.
I’m living my life again. Me and my irritating, know-it-all 21-year-old self have joined forces. I’m using her naivety, wide-eyed optimism, hope and ambition to power my experience, skepticism, caution, knowledge and insight.
I think this might turn out be the most perfect relationship of my life.