Laughing

When I was a kid and a teenager I laughed a lot. And I mean a lot. I have a rather ruddy complexion that colours easily and have a tendency to go bright red when I laugh. Consequently every photo of me with my friends always came out awful. Me with my hair everywhere, bright red face, hiccoughing… it took me many years to realise that I didn’t always look like that.

When I got depressed I stopped laughing. I forgot about laughing. Things weren’t funny anymore. When I saw something that might be considered funny at some point by some people I would note it completely straight faced and miserably. Some distant memory would tug deep in my mind that I would have found that funny in the past. But I didn’t believe that memory, because I was probably deluded in the past anyway and I was just a kid. It didn’t count.

Laughter has been a miracle for me and reappeared well into my third year of recovery. The idea that I don’t have to force laughter anymore, I even have to repress it if it bubbles up in some inappropriate circumstances. Although maybe I don’t bother doing that much, I need to make up for lost time! Last summer I rediscovered the joy of laughing and then finding my own laughter so funny I had to laugh more. That kind of bubbling infectious sound that is already there but I’m unaware of until some miraculous joke or surreal image pops in my head.

It is the best.thing.ever.

Advertisements

Competition

Strange how the day after I admit I don’t know whether to blog anymore I find myself wanting to write. But something happened yesterday, nothing major but something.

I have said I’m not a competitive person, that people can do their thing and I’ll carry on doing mine thanksverymuch. But I do feel threatened sometimes and I do feel like I’m competing. Even in my non-competitive yoga class I think about how my strength/flexibility/general air of calm compares to those around me. These days I’m mindful of it and I say to myself “ego” or “judging” if these thoughts arise. They still come.

Months ago I applied to be represented as an artist by a gallery (the same one I’m applying to be artist in residence for). I was rejected initially, along with another painter. However, the directors of the gallery overturned this decision and decided to accept us both. Unfortunately I had already followed up my application and was told I’d been rejected. The other painter hadn’t and got accepted. Over the coming weeks after hearing about this I came to terms with the corruption and unfairness of it and I dealt with it.

Until I suddenly suspected the super-duper-ace yogi in my class was that rejected/accepted painter. She has the same name, the same hairstyle, the right accent… it all fitted.

My god I felt jealous and resentful. Jealous of her handstands, her forearm balances, her headstands, her incredible strength, her thinness, her acceptance within the yoga class, but most of all the blissful ignorance she had of the inner corruption and politics within that gallery. All that had happened to her is she had applied to be an artist and she was accepted. I (who was recovering from depression, with no other job) had to deal with the initial rejection, the criticism of my work, the hurtful comments of the director who was supposed to be supporting me, the ripping apart of my identity, the worthlessness, the doubts, the insecurity.

As you can imagine, this all put me off my yoga. I am very proud of my dual identity: my yoga and my painting. I think it makes me unique, different, special. “But this woman does both too, and she does it better!” I said to myself. This is all ego. I do what I do, let others do what they do. I am not defined by my talents or my practices, I am me regardless. I wish these lessons were easier learned.

The bizarre end note to my little story is I don’t even think this woman in my yoga class and the painter are the same after all. How does that change my little narrative?

What do people really think about you?

I wanted to call this post “are you taking the piss?” but thought it might detract from the actual thing I wanted to talk about.

I’m having an ongoing battle to get my paintings into a studio. Here is the timeline so far:

  • December 2010: Started to put paintings into their shop. Paintings sell well throughout the next year.
  • March 2011: Get told that people have been asking about me and my paintings.
  • July 2011: Get a commission from someone through the gallery.
  • July 2011: Decide the time is ripe to apply to be completely represented by the gallery.
  • August 2011: Get rejected by the ‘panel of artists’. Feel completely bemused and angry and lost.
  • August 2011: Get told by one of the directors (I shall call her Magda) that I should have been accepted, she continues to support and help me.
  • October 2011: Accept “mentoring” from an “Artist” at the gallery. This woman hasn’t painted before in her life. Meeting is insulting and patronising. Decide to give up with the gallery for now and try to gain confidence in my paintings again.
  • January 2012: Magda says she’ll help me apply again so I go to meet with her. Find out that another artist applied with me and the directors overturned her rejection from the panel of artists. Next day I receive an email meant for someone else at the gallery ABOUT ME. And it wasn’t all roses and kittens.

So. Where do you begin? I certainly don’t know. I have been so harmed by this organisation when all I wanted was to put my paintings on their walls. I have not done anything to harm them, to threaten them, and I’ve repeatedly been caught in the crossfire of an organisation that is imploding. The politics and infighting has unfortunately got a victim and at this point in my life I could do without it. Even when people are friendly to my face that does not mean they will not harm me at some point.

It really is taking the piss.

This email revealed that Magda thinks I am difficult, stubborn and unwilling to compromise. She described me as “clinically sensitive”, whatever that means and said I am “obsessed” with painting my chosen way (what painter isn’t?) There was probably more stuff but I can’t be bothered going over it again.

I assume that this has happened to everyone in the past: to find out directly what someone is saying about you to someone else. It’s happened to me too but never in such a serious circumstance. I can’t deny it doesn’t hurt but my reaction was surprising. At first I laughed, then I felt bemused, then I felt angry and hurt, but after a cry I accepted it. I explained how it made me feel and about my depression.

Her reaction was a bit more extreme. I got many emails throughout the day apologising, saying she was going to resign, saying it was the worst thing she’s ever done, she’s going reevaluate how she sounds when she talks about people, she had to go for a walk to calm down, she’s probably going to wallow in the humiliation… It went on for a while. I thought I was supposed to be the sensitive one?

It did shock me the flippant, callous way she made judgements and was freely willing to discuss these with someone else. She has barely talked to me and she certainly doesn’t know me well enough to make these kind of judgements (most were wrong) It made me think about how often we’re so thoughtless at the way we cast judgements at others. How we think or say things because we know (or hope) that that person will never hear it.

What if they did?

What kind of hurt would we cause? Is it justified? Maybe we should go a little easier on other people, stop the judgmental thoughts. After all we don’t know anything about their lives, their suffering.

Or just make sure if you do say these things in email form, that you don’t send it to the person you’re talking about.

This post is an excuse to laugh at Armando Iannucci videos

Today I faced a ridiculous moral dilemma when I was walking past a high school. As happens quite often a football had been kicked over the top of the fence and the boys wanted it back. I was happening to walk past at this time and so they yelled at me to throw it back. Being half deaf and a bit woozy from a blood test this morning (I’m a squeamish person with a possible underactive thyroid) I wasn’t too thrilled to be yelled at by some kids as I’m walking home. Also I’m shit at throwing, catching, kicking, everything sporty. When I was at school I got used to being yelled at and I was also terrorised by boys playing football so I reckoned one less football could save a poor soul like me from such terrors. I ignored them and winced as they threw various strange insults at me (wank-whore anyone?) Still I’m plagued by thoughts: was this the right thing to do? It wasn’t nice and it wasn’t pleasant but if I had thrown the ball back, assuming I’d be able to throw it over the fence, would it make them grow into nice, pleasant, kind young men? How can I expect people to be kind if I’m not nice and kind all the time to everyone? Do you think those kids are wondering the same thing right now? Am I agonising over something completely inconsequential?

Anyway the upshot of this whole thing was it made me think of that sketch above which is always good.

Proving teachers wrong and laughing at yourself

I’m out of the habit of posting I admit so this seems bizarre to be sitting down here and writing this. I’m keeping going with the blog, not letting the bastards grind me down. I’m going to make it mine, what that means I have yet to work out.

Sometimes we spend so much time wrapped up in our heads that we forget to laugh, I know I do. I’ve always been an appreciator of the funny things in life but the depression makes me temporarily forget. Little by little my sense of joy in the surreal is returning, I laugh more and I find it hard to stop. I play more, I’m silly. I’m myself 7 years ago again. It turns out I didn’t ever ‘grow up’, I just got depressed! Here’s to being silly forever!

On Monday I managed to get out for a run for the first time in two weeks. It was fantastic, the sun was shining and I knew the tide would be low enough for me to run on the beach. Now my journey to the beach involves either a) running past my old high school or b) running past some nesting herring gulls who will swoop at me in my running clothes (but not in my normal clothes, why is this?) I chose the high school but it is a hard decision. I was running past when my old PE teacher walked by on her way to torture those poor kids with Monday morning athletics or rounders or some other awful activity. I don’t like this teacher because I was an ‘unfit’ for most of my school sports career- bad knees, colds, IBS, period pain, whatever I milked it because I HATED being forced to do any kind of physical activity. I’m as surprised as anyone that I spend so much time out of breath and sweaty nowadays. Anyway she saw me and the look on her face was not at all dissimilar to what a person would look like had they seen a fish sprout legs and walk out of the sea. I saw her and I laughed out loud. That felt good! She hadn’t beat the joy I find in moving my body out of me.

My running track

In the evening I went to my first yoga class in two weeks too. For some reason I was a bit late and had to rush to the toilet in my bare feet before the class started. So I come back from the toilet and join the others lying on my back. We had an unusual start to the class, with shoulderstands and lying backbends at the beginning instead of the end. Not too sure how it would work with others who had tight hamstrings/hip flexors but I was feeling loose so I settled in quickly. At one point we were doing one legged bridges. I extended my left leg to the ceiling, admiring how long it looked, how flexible my hamstrings were, how responsive my body was. I have to say that I have some pretty damn elegant feet too. Feeling content I lifted the right foot up but the right foot looked a little weird, something was on my beautiful long toes. Toilet paper. I had a bit of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my right foot and it was waving high in the air for all to see. Oh god it was a priceless moment. I allowed myself a chuckle and had a great laughing fit with my boyfriend later on. It feels good to laugh finally!