One of the best places in my world, and one I don’t visit anywhere near often enough, is the Wellcome Collection Reading Room. It’s a peaceful, soothing place with sections of plush carpeting, lots of interesting relics to look at, and, most importantly, cushion-lined stairs. It’s a dream.
It’s nice to have a place to visit when I’m feeling like being out but not like spending money. It’s nice to have a place to visit when I’m having a bit of trouble feeling entirely like Leslie, whoever on earth that is, and want to remind myself. Bring myself back into my own body.
My idol died the other week. Yes, Leslie, we know. It’s amazing how aware people are that you love someone when you have a massive portrait of them, circa 1973, tattooed on your arm¹. Apart from the incredible weirdness of that entire situation (David Bowie’s presence in my life remains the same now as it ever has, since I never actually knew him and never would’ve, although it was nice to imagine that at some point in my life I’d be in the same room as him, something that definitely won’t be happening now²), it’s inspired me to try to be to myself as he was to me. Does that make any sense? Put my all into everything I do, all the time. Be my own idol.
I’ve been quite stressed lately, for no good reason. Winter does terrible things to my silly old brain. No energy, no motivation, everything is sort of grey and not entirely good. I combat it by dying my hair back to rainbow, by taking innumerous hot baths, by doing my best to keep my nails painted bright colours, by getting back into my old not-great-brain habit of obsessing over makeup. I have over forty lipsticks³, you know!
Christmas in Ottawa was a wonderful break. I had a pretty strong suspicion that my brother Chris and sister-in-law Jenny would be visiting from Vancouver, and while I was thrown off the trail when they didn’t appear within my first nearly-two-days of being home, any of my immediate family can attest that I did, in fact, shout “I FUCKING KNEW IT” when they walked through the door on Christmas morning. I love just about everything about the life I lead, but it’s always wonderful to pay visits home, to be around my family, to casually hang out with my friends, to discover time and time again that distance can’t really change any of the things that are important. And to realise how far I’ve come from the Leslie who left Ottawa in March 2013.
I’ve only done two standup gigs so far this year, which feels a bit like failure, but I’ll get better. I’m doing at least two this week, and the last one I did (#37) was incredibly significant to me inasmuch as I finally got to gig alongside one of the friends I’ve known longest in this city, who’s also one of my favourite acts of all. He asked if I wanted to do a spot when I turned up to the show as an audience member. He had really nice things to say about my stuff. It was a huge deal to me. It still is.
I’ve been resting a lot lately, trying to finally kick this seemingly never-ending cold or flu or whatever that’s seemed to reappear constantly since that one week in September when I kept myself maybe the busiest I’ve ever been. I have the most terrifying sense that I’m getting old. But also: now recovering. Not from ageing, though. Not yet.
The year is now 2016, and before it’s 2017 I’ll have turned thirty years old. I’m not sure why this terrifies me so; the grand majority of the people I love and admire are older than me, and so I’ve spent years knowing people in their thirties. It never seems like a big deal when it’s them. I’m just worried, quite irrationally, that I don’t have a whole lot to show for it apart from the lines on my forehead that haunt me. (And here, an endless chorus of “you live in a different country! you do standup comedy! you’re almost unimaginably more confident than you once were!!”)
I just had a rare weekend away, spent in Bournemouth with my friend Lisa, staying in the home of Lisa’s best friend Hannah, Hannah’s husband Paul, and their nine month-old son Brandon. It was wonderful to experience the feeling of having no real responsibilities at all, to just see what we ended up doing and not feel stressed about it. We went to see the Libertines, the second time Lisa and I have gone to see them together (the second time I’ve seen them live at all really, apart from the most unbelievable middle-of-the-night gig at the beginning of September in the back of Dublin Castle in Camden, which Carl Barât admitted to me that weird night in October when we spoke for ages that he didn’t really remember), and then spent the rest of our weekend joyous that we’d decided to go to the 6,500 capacity Bournemouth International Centre, rather than the 20,000 capacity O2 here in London. The show was unbelievable, and I’m still buzzing about it days later. This band I love so, so much, that I never thought I’d get to see… anyway. I need to travel more often, anyway; everything is just there, but London has a tendency to take up all of my time and consciousness. (My friend Kate and I are travelling to Amsterdam at the beginning of March, which is incredibly exciting. I’ve wanted to visit for ages and, surprise surprise!, we’re going to see the Libertines there. I’ve always found music gigs a great reason to travel, although “travel” used to mainly mean Toronto and Montreal, and now the world is so much bigger and I’m excited as heck.)
Now I’m back in London. In the Wellcome Collection Reading Room. A magical place. Tomorrow I’m back to work. Five days off has been luxurious.
Apparently today is the anniversary of my WordPress account. How ‘bout that.
I came here to write some new material, you know. I need to dive headlong into this standup thing. Some fear is stopping me from fully realising this aspiration, and I need to figure out what it is. I need to be the best me I can possibly be.
¹ I haven’t had anyone ask whether said tattoo is of me since, anyway.
² Unless we manage to go through with our time travel plans, Nidal.
³ I really love lipsticks.