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Mad Me in the New Year

Okay, it’s that time of year again.

Time to revamp my whole life and finally get things in order.

Don Zen
Ding.

Last January, I launched a three-pronged approach for success that involved Dry January, Bullet Journaling, and gyming. While I did manage to maintain these resolutions (besides February thru December being pretty wet), and while I think they have helped to organise me a bit, I need even more from myself this year.

Bigger! Better! Totally unrealistic and un-achievable!

But really, something HAS to change–like really change–in 2018. I cannot die at this desk like Mrs Blankenship.

dons-sexy-new-secretary1
‘How can I help you? (Go to hell.)’

Any little change I make won’t matter if I am still in the same unfulfilled place in my (non)career. And it’s not just about me. Not having purpose, drive, and meaning makes me way less cool to be around. I bet B misses the old me.

So what can I do?

I. Don’t. Know.

I really don’t know. And, unfortunately for you guys, I really need to talk it out here. (I have a feeling this might get a bit epic, so I’ve enlisted Mad Men to help me lighten the mood.)

betty
Time for blogville therapy!

The virgo in me is really struggling to deal with the fact that, no matter how many times I sit down to make a plan of action, I can’t come up with anything concrete. I want to be able to map out, pen to paper, in words and colours, what exactly I need to do to change my life. But I can’t.

Then I begin to panic.

I think about going back to the office where weeks slip away faster and faster counting down to weekends just because it’s the thing to do. And it feels like this inescapable cycle in which I can’t think, I can’t restfully think and come up with a plan. And the less I do, the worse my agoraphobia gets–and my fears now stand before me seeming actually insurmountable.

Who is this person that I have become?

And what exactly is it that I even want anymore?

MM_WhereS4LeftOff
Dunno!

I had the opportunity this past year to see Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Pinter’s No Man’s Land on the West End. (The formidable/hilarious/super kind Jamie Hyder was in town on a press junket and she rather generously treated her former acting colleague [me] to a night at the theatre.) The performances were awesome, and it was a thrill being only three rows away from two absolute legends–but I was mostly struck that evening by what a wonderful gift it is to be an actor. A youth-giving gift. A purpose-giving gift.

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Here were two nearly 80 year-old men who were doing exceptional physical and mental work. There was a moment in Patrick Stewart’s performance where he was crawling across the floor, and I just marvelled at the agility (some of) our bodies are able to maintain if we want them to. Eight performances a week. Pages and pages of monologuing to memorise.

Jamie and the other LA actor who was with us were intrigued by the fact that these older, successful film stars would bother doing such a difficult (and relatively un-lucrative) job at this point in their careers. But I thought OF COURSE! Of course they would! This is what it is about! Being 80 years old and performing Pinter in thrilling LIVE THEATRE! Life giving.

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THAT is what I want. That purpose. That purpose to keep my mind and body clear and able. That purpose that has helped me so well in the past. To not stay out partying at prom in high school because I had an audition the next morning for one of my first professional roles (and I got the part!). Gosh, to miss many social things of my youth–football games etc–because I was preserving myself, my voice, for my upcoming performance. I made enormous sacrifices for my art that were way beyond my years, but they didn’t at all seem like sacrifices because I understood what was important to me and what brought me happiness.

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THAT, I want that back.

You know what else I want back? Not minding so much about people being shitty to me… and not minding because I have confidence in my future success. I’ve always had haters. Always. Always have, always will. I am, actually, extremely shy, but because of my appearance and the things I enjoy doing that don’t seem shy (performing), my shyness isΒ  often assumed bitchiness. I didn’t mind so much before because I was able to focus on my vocation and purpose.

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Those who know me know that I am really sensitive, that I suffer from depression and anxiety, that I live to entertain and make people laugh, and, hopefully, that I am actually a very compassionate person. These qualities help me to be a good actress, but without that expressive outlet and confidence, they can cause me pain and floundering. People being shitty to me on top of that = certain unpleasantness.

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Okay, so basically, I want to resolve to be me again?

This is a tall order–can I break it down into achievable parts? Or determine the things that are preventing me from being me?

1.Work

Obviously, at the forefront of all things problematic is my job. I spend 12 hours a day, 5 days a week away from home not doing something that is promoting my happiness or promising anything for my future. There’s no upward mobility, and the role I play day after day has nothing to do with my talents or skills. (‘Ali, I need your IT expertise again’ — I AM LEGIT BAD AT COMPUTERS, PEOPLE, I’m just not RIDICULOUS and also know how to use Google and COMMON SENSE.)

Joan and Peggy
‘Have you tried turning it off and on again, fool?’

Unfortunately, I am not in a financial position where I can quit, and we all know how successful my attempts at finding another job were last year! (And to be honest, I’m not going to be happy in any office environment where I have an unchanging schedule and no freedom to make one day different from the next and no chance of ever meeting anyone.)

Sooooooooooooooo….

I’ve been toying with the idea of asking if I can go down to 4 days a week. They still pay me hourly, so I wouldn’t have to renegotiate a contract or anything–just, not get paid for that one day. Like, maybe if I had Wednesdays off, I could mentally cope better knowing I just had to get through 2 day stints at a time.

The cons, of course, are that I’m already not making enough money at 5 days a week… and also I am terrified by the prospect of broaching the subject with my managers.

What do you think? I feel like this might lessen some of the desperation I feel and help me to ween away from the weekly vortex hell-cycle?

Or should I try to get some sort of retail-ish job/go back to the pub to integrate myself into the local community more? And put yet another weird blight on my CV?

I really don’t know what to do about this.

2. Wine

I deffo self medicate with wine.

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(Pours more wine.)

It calms me down and helps me to face some of those aforementioned fears… or at least forget about them for an evening. But that’s not great. I need to confront these problems without my delicious little crutch if I’m actually going to conquer them.

So I’m gonna do Dry/Moderate January again and try to carry it a little further into the year than I did last year. This goes hand in hand with gyming and being healthier in general.

It should be easier this year because…

3. Whinge

betty-draper-dress

A couple months ago, I decided to stop sitting around bemoaning the fact that I know no one in London or how to break back into the theatrical community. Okay, that’s a lie, I’ve definitely continued to moan… but while I was whinging, I also finally attempted to do something about the problem and, with a loan and partial gift from B, signed up for a Shakespeare course at RCSSD.

The course is 2 evenings a week for 8 weeks, starting in January.

I was thrilled about the prospect ofΒ  these classes when I first signed up, but now as commencement nears, the gremlins of fear have obviously started to rear their ugly heads. Is it going to come back to me? What if I can’t act anymore? Am I too wine-addled and broken to memorise lines?!

But hopefully it will be good.

Hopefully with some purpose built into my week, I will regain the stamina I once had and not feel so exhausted and ill all the time. Hopefully I will maybe meet some people. Hopefully I will be able to feel a little bit good about myself again.

Betty-draper
Boom.

I guess what I’m really resolving to do, then, is face my fears in 2018. Put myself back out there. Get out from behind the computer and perform my music live. Meet people and act like I’m confident until I actually am confident again.

And to do this, I’m going to give up work, wine, and whinging. Well, not entirely give up work, sadly… just find a way to lessen my non-artistic work commitment.

Is this a plan? Could I break it down into even smaller steps? It continues to feel nebulous and wishy-washy. But I guess that’s life? A nebulous wish-wash? Are you still reading? Are you still out there? Any advice? Wait! Come back!

Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest, even if you are suffering over the boring agony of my New Year’s Resolutions, fingers hovering over the ‘unfollow’ button.

WHAT ARE YOUR RESOLUTIONS???? Please share your hopes and fears with me in the comments!

I’m hoping for love, success, and humour for you and yours in 2018.

Happy New Year!

xWG

22 thoughts on “Mad Me in the New Year Leave a comment

  1. I have a feeling this is going to be a ‘Peggy Olson’ year for you. Apart from the pregnancy by Pete Campbell and impaled boyfriend, of course. And probably lots of other things. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha I don’t plan on sleeping with Pete or stabbing B in the stomach … but you never know?! I hope you’re right about the rest. I could really use some of Peggy’s spirited tenacity. Same to you in 2018 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, it wasn’t so hard to make it to the end… Although I was trying to avoid looking too closely at some of your Mad Men pictures, because somehow I managed to miss the series in its heyday, and I’m only watching it now. But I digress. YES! Get out there and make things better! I was in a similar position myself a few years back, and the good news it is that it’s totally possible to disentangle yourself from that cycle of work-wine-weekend if you want to. It does take effort, but it sounds like you’re no stranger to making sacrifices when you need to, so I reckon you’ll be ok. The Beasties and I are rooting for you! Oh, and my new year’s resolutions this year are pretty simple – make more, sell more, become BFFs with my sewing machine. Oh, and occasionally get out and take some exercise. πŸ˜† Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Augh so envious that you are experiencing Mad Men for the first time (although it’s one of those rare things that still manages to be amazing the 5th and 6th times as well)!! Yes, you’re trajectory is super inspirational and impressive to me. You’re right about the ‘effort’–and I feel like relieving myself of the full 5 days in the office might help me be better able to fully make that effort?

      Those resolutions of yours sound sound. I have no doubt your sewing machine is gunning to be your BFF right back! As for exercise, I’m sure those scampering Beasties keep you on your toes. Here’s to adding more orders to your inbox and more sides of rocket to your peanut butter sandwiches in 2018!

      Thank you and good luck to you too!!!!!

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      • Hahaha! Now that the Christmas madness is over, I’m proud to say that I’m back eating real food again… I even bought fruit the other day! FRUIT!

        I’m also doing my best to ration my Mad Men intake, because I realise it’s a finite resource… That really is easier said than done, though! And when I AM done, I’ll probably go back and start over… Since I now know that it warrants at least 4 rewatchings! Perhaps I should add “don’t spend all your time watching Mad Men” to that list of resolutions? πŸ€”

        Anyway, good luck with downsizing the amount of time you spend in your job – having one extra day in your pocket a week should make a real difference to your mindset, and I’m willing to bet it’ll save you a few quid as well! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fruit? Or fermented grapes?

        LOOK – the show came out a DECADE ago, and I was there for the premiere and then had the DVDs back when those still existed and there was no Netflix and I also had to introduce it to many people and therefore re-watch it and there aren’t THAT many eps per season and and and …. no I don’t spend too much time watching Mad Men! Nope, it’s been a totally reasonable amount of time spent on one TV show!

        Sadly, not everyone seems to be on board with the 4 day week idea, so I think I’m going to have to give up that hope and persevere in this cycle for awhile longer. Maybe I’ll find that extra day from neglected Mad Men marathons! Thank you for your encouragement πŸ™‚

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      • No, actual fruit! πŸ˜€ Although if I’m honest, my tentative steps in increased fruit consumption are probably just an attempt to balance out the gin kit Boyfriend got me for Christmas. Stew up my own perfect blend of grain alcohol and botanicals? Thanks, don’t mind if I do! πŸ˜†
        And at least the gin will help lessen the shock of having no decent craft TV to watch while I work. I’m a little distressed at how quickly I’m tearing through Mad Men, now you mention it… How did I get to season 5 already? Did I skip one?! GAAAAAH!
        I’m sorry the powers that be didn’t go for your 4 day work week plan… Don’t let it put you off, though! These things take time, and this is actually a good opportunity for you to get some strong foundations put down, and show your friends and family you mean business πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gin kit?! That sounds sooooooo cool! Well done, Boyfriend! I hope you have some delicate little Victorianish cut glass glasses in which to properly enjoy the final product? OMG I loooove season 5. Maybe we need some Mad Beasties in the world?

        Yeah, already feeling a bit down about 2018… but hopefully that’s a good sign, as I usually have really high hopes for the new year and then it turns to shit! Maybe dampened expectations and my usual pessimism are just the ticket this time! πŸ™‚

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      • Ha! I admire your optimistic pessimism… Or is it pessimistic optimism? And yeah, once the fizzle of the holidays wears off, the cold, dark January days are hardly conducive to getting new projects off the ground. But hey, you have class starting soon, right? I reckon that will give you some sort of motivation – even if it is “these people are hateful and I want to be better than all of them”! πŸ˜†

        As for Project Gin, I have two cool-looking stoppered bottles to fill, but NO GLASSES! I might have to go hunting in the charity shop – or just swig from the bottle? I’m already planning to put the bathtub to use as an infusing tank if this first batch is a success. Then I might start work on some Mad Beasties… I love the idea of recreating the settings in miniature too. Especially the offices – I don’t know why, but I’m so obsessed with the look of the Season 4+ office!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oooohhh I bet you can find some perfect ones at a charity shop! Hahah I love the sound of your little gin factory.

        And I knowwwwww… I LOVE that office too, especially the writers’ lounge (well, and Roger’s office is pretty sweet!). Throw in a Beastie Peggy with a pencil, portfolio bag, and a whiskey = perfection!

        Optimistic pessimism forever and always: halfway into Monday and I haven’t been tempted to punch anyone in the face/already feel buoyed by the fact that a shimmering Wednesday Oasis of Productive Creativity lies in the near future… this new schedule could be not terrible?!?

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      • You made it halfway through Monday without even thinking of resorting to violence? That has to be worth a gold star at least! Enjoy adapting to your new-found freedom πŸ˜€

        Oh, and Mad Beasties would absolutely have to start with Peggy… She’s probably my favourite!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oooohhh good point–I’d better add ‘no violence committed’ to my Bullet Journal rewards chart! πŸ™‚

        It’s an ever-evolving ranking, but I think that Betty is my favourite character followed very closely by Peggy and then Sally. But I love Joan too. Sigh. Maybe I should become a professional TV Watcher. Is that a job? Isn’t that what Harry Crane does?

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      • It is… But I think he had to make the job up himself. Waaaait a second – is that how success happens? You tell your boss, “I’m doing this now” and they say “ok then” and you get to watch TV as your job? WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THIS YEARS AGO?
        Hey, speaking of new job opportunities… Isn’t today Wednesday? Enjoy your first day of creative freedom! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmmm maybe that’s why everyone hates Harry? I could live with that!

        Yassssssss…. happy to report that I had a very productive first day off, despite being my usual Creative-ADD self. The gentle readers of Daze & Weekes just MIGHT have something in the video department to look forward to next week…. πŸ™‚

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      • Ooooh, a video? So I’m guessing that means you’ve either made the transition to vlogging, or you’ve created a stunning tribute to the adverts of the 1960s, featuring a series of products to make life easier for the modern housewife and hostess! πŸ˜€

        Glad Wednesday went well… Next stop, get Tuesday off too! πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • I wouldn’t call it so much a ‘transition’ as a posssssssssible new occasional feature. Ya know, gotta keep throwing stuff out there hoping something might stick! Hahaha don’t tempt me with Tuesday! πŸ™‚

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  3. I’m still trying to sort out why wine wouldn’t be number one…I do some of my best planning/sorting out life shit after a couple glasses.

    As for your future, grab it! London to me is the mecca of media with TV, films, radio, and theater (and theatre) RIGHT there in one handy locale! You just need to figure out how to squeeze your way in. If you can manage to eke some time away from work, can you use some of that time to volunteer somewhere “actor-y”? You may not get any glamorous tasks, but it could be one way to tap into the acting community. Also don’t discount the audio side of acting – besides radio plays (which seem hugely popular in the UK), audiobooks are gaining in popularity and, trust me, there’s a lot of acting going on as the narrators read these things. Consider looking into Audible (ACX) or Findaway Voices, they’re always looking for “talent.” I know it’s not the stage, but it’s one way to tap into that acting urge. Here’s an article if that interests you: https://bookriot.com/2017/09/21/become-an-audiobook-narrator/

    Just try to get overwhelmed by one huge goal (you’ll end up floundering around like I’ve done for the past several years). Break that damn thing down into bits and pieces you can manage in a reasonable time frame. Oh, and corkscrews are the perfect goal-breaking-down tools (just sayin’). Regardless, don’t give up because one day it could be YOU in one of those Hallmark Christmas specials (after you beach your hair blonde, of course).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha well, I tend to have one glass of wine and immediately relax and think, ‘Everything will be fine… I’ll just watch some Netflix and finish this bottle….’ and then the next thing I know, my alarm is going off and THINGS ARE NOT FINE!!!

      Yes, that was kind of my idea–use that extra day to do something towards my career–whether it be volunteering or focusing on work for class or researching what the hell to do. Voiceover/audio stuff is actually a great idea–thank you! You’re absolutely right that radio & radio drama is huuuuuge over here… and it’s also a genre where my American accent might be a help rather than a hindrance. I’ll look into it. From that article, the recording aspect sounds pretty similar to the work I had to do producing the album.

      Yah, I always tend to make great big goals like ‘fix life’ and then flounder. Or try to tackle too many artistic ventures and lose focus. I’ve made a separate list of some more tangible little bits I can do to hopefully help this overall goal of… being happier and more myself/escaping this job and having a career. And I think breaking away from this 5 ‘working’ days in a row cycle is really where I need to begin. I’m going to try and muster up the courage to ask my manager for a little meeting on Friday. Ekkk!

      Okay, I guess I’d better go buy some hair bleach on my lunch break. Thanks again for the stellar advice, and good luck continuing to storm through that fourth book!

      Like

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