Sunday, 18 March 2012

Twenty ways to know you're alive

I was talking to a beautiful lady this weekend about women’s magazines and how shit they make you feel. People often criticise Cosmo and co for using models who give women un-realistic expectations about how they should look. Less people criticise journalists for plugging idealistic ideas stolen straight from Sex and the City movies which give people un-realistic expectations about their life. It makes you feel pretty shit when you read ‘Top 50 things to do before you die’ and you realise you haven’t done one of them because your life isn’t like Carrie Bradshaw’s and your friends are more like Tim from the Office than Stanford Blatch (Carrie’s own personal pop-up gay man) . You wonder whether the journalist is just creating this easy-sell crap to make women feel that by reading it, they are a little bit closer to being an ultra-independent, modern, fulfilled woman – or if they just pull it out their arse to meet a deadline. Either way, the articles are alienating and make life feel like one big party that you weren’t invited to.

So, rather than suggest that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO have had sex and found your g-spot while you ride a horse at sunset whilst on holiday to South-America because you needed to take a break from your stressful but liberating job as an executive for an ethically-run beauty company based in Brick Lane, I started thinking about 20 things that, when you strip it down and take away all the posing, I think show that you have been alive. These are just mine, though, taken from my own cynical brain and they focus on what you’ve already done rather than stuff you have to do – so we can give ourselves a massive pat on the back for being on the Earth long enough to say that, by someone’s standards, we’ve 'lived’ And if you haven’t done them, it doesn’t matter because they’re just my stupid ideas anyway.

  1. To see a baby being born. If you haven’t, hopefully someone around you will have a baby so you won’t have to just wander into a maternity ward and risk getting arrested.
  2. To completely disappoint your parents. To have them look at you like you with disgust and disbelief that they created something so terrible. I think that this is part of the circle of life.
  3. To forgive your parents. To realise that maybe you’ll never agree on immigration laws but to love them anyway. You could never change for them either.
  4. To teach a child to do something that you used to do. This could be anything, like splat painting, paper doll making, building a bivouac or making a snow man. To get really competitive if their one is better than yours and, if worst comes to worst, colonise their snow man and claim it as your own.
  5. To have been lost in a place where no-one speaks a word of English. To have panicked and had to resort to the inevitable; speaking to someone, in English, using a foreign accent. For that foreign person to look at you like you are spawn of satan…just like your parents did.
  6. To have realised that, no matter what happens, you always make it home in the end.
  7. To realise that you will never be a pop star/rock star. This realisation tends to dawn on you when you’re in your teens. You’re singing along to something (and in you’re head, you’re Kurt Cobain/Christina Aguilera). Then suddenly you realise you’re actually really shit and will never be famous. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.
  8. To plant something and watch it grow. I’ve only done it once but it felt fucking awesome.
  9. To spend an entire day with a close friend building on one single joke. This could be anything from a metaphor that got out of hand to singing everything as if you are Meatloaf. Everyone else around you will want to crucify you but it’s this or find your g-spot, so..
  10. To realise, deep down, that you do really like Phil Collins too.
  11. To fall in a lake. Or a river. And not with a sexy man, somewhere hot, where you can have steamy frolicking water time. In a river, in Surrey, in February, where you get covered in frogspawn and ruin everyone’s day.
  12. To get love advice from your grandma.
  13. To love someone and to realise that you’ll never be good enough for them.
  14. To write to/email/text an old friend who you miss in the middle of the night and tell them this. To realise that, falling out with friends over the roots of Marxism or whether Mary Shelley really did write Frankenstein is not good.
  15. To storm out of a job. To rip up your writing pad, to throw your chair across the room, to smash your telephone up in a rage or just run screaming from the building. Or, more likely, leave a letter on your boss’ desk and walk out with Gloria Gaynor playing in your head. Everyone will judge you and treat you like a mad person but you’ll laugh about it later. Probably.
  16. To go to the most beautiful place in the world and realise that you can’t create those perfect moments of clarity in life – you might be on an obscure Caribbean island but if you’re hungover or just started your period, who cares!
  17. To be romantically involved with someone who you have no respect for – and hate yourself for every second of it.
  18. To be romantically involved with someone who has no respect for you – and realise that, no matter how much you like them, you care about yourself more.
  19. To make something yourself – whether it’s knitting a hat, making a shoe rack or writing a poem. To look at something and think, I made that. It might be a bit shit and I might end up giving it to someone I don’t like that much. But I still made it.
  20. To lose someone you love. To think that life is so short and transient that you will make every day count. Then realising that this is an impossible task and going back to living exactly how you did before.

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