I go into every year optimistic about the same thing: this will be the year when I stick to using my daily planner. And every year I do slightly better before I inevitably forget about it.
This might be a new record: beginning of January through the week of April 25th to May 1st.
It’s a shame, though; I’m a fan of the tangible, and the same way I keep endless Moleskine journals, as I’ve mentioned before, as dual means for personal therapy and entirely unfiltered records of my own life, I like the idea of being able to look back and know exactly when things happened. Pinpoint the significant to a calendar date.
This year I went into it with a silly little project in mind, too: one sentence to sum up each and every day.
January 3rd: Goodbyes remain hard; I am soft, as I was getting on the plane back to London after spending Christmas in Ottawa.
January 30th: A narrowly avoided serial killing, which was when I was in a bar in Winton-which-is-not-Bournemouth with my dear friend Lisa and her wonderful best friend Hannah (whom I met for the first time on that trip, staying in her house, where I also met her excellent husband Paul and their terrific son Brandon), and a genuinely terrifying man took an extreme dislike to the three of us because we sat in what was possibly his normal spot. We didn’t know! He could’ve used his words instead of glowering at us from across the bar and ranting at strangers about us!
February 13th: I am getting really good at making coffees (gather ’round, everyone), a particular high in my workplace self-esteem.
March 2nd: You can be whoever you want to be, which was something that I read in the David Bowie Is… exhibition in Groningen, and which touched me so much that I stopped to write it in my notebook. “‘I had to phone someone so I picked on you,’ Bowie sings. He is making it up, constructing an identity, plucking ideas from everywhere. You can join him. You have been chosen. You can be whoever you want to be.” I had already been crying at the Space Oddity bit of the exhibition, everyone with their headphones on listening to the audio tour but singing along with the song quietly all the same, and then I got into that room and those words were on the wall and it was all a bit much for me. And then there was the Starman bit, ultraviolence in Liberty fabrics. The whole exhibition was overwhelming.
March 15th: Three years in, & today I made Jude Law have a dance party with me, which was a thing that genuinely happened only hours after the last time I wrote in this blog. (I cannot, for what it’s worth, really explain how it happened that I was at the point where I was comfortable enough to demand such silliness out of a Celebrity™, and I think it can only be explained with one word: alcohol. Actually, five words: lots and lots of alcohol. Three more: also sleep deprivation.)
March 24th: Laughing myself out of a fit of (29-year old) teen angst, which was the time on a chaotic day at work when my coworker asked me “do you want to eat?” and I snapped back, “no, I want to die.” Oooookay, Leslie! (I did eat. I did not die.)
I might have to pick it back up. I love shit like that.
So the last time we spoke, friends (all of us, all in one giant conversation that I dominated by talking about myself, typical), I had just performed at my all-time favourite comedy night. No, I still haven’t wrapped my brain around the fact this happened. But I know it did, because Ron doesn’t charge me money to get in anymore. It’s such a small thing but such an important thing. “You’re part of the family now,” he told me when he told me he wasn’t charging me money anymore, and that was my sentence to sum up March 21st.
On April 10th I asked another act to film me when I did a spot at the unbelievably warm and welcoming Angel Comedy (who’ve just passed their funding goal to get their own space, with 48 days to go), and while I’m sure anyone reading this will have already seen the video on Facebook (the feedback I received was astounding), here it is anyway:
The following week I unexpectedly ended up doing Old Rope again (that’s something that can happen now, after all; they were short of acts and I was there anyway, so…)
And then I did a comedy competition, Funny Women, which takes place on a boat!!!!!!!! and was an indescribably lovely experience. I met some great acts, too, one of whom comes into my work often, so that’s amazing. I was wearing my greatest boots of all time ever (only their second outing!) because it felt like the right time. It has to be an occasion to wear My Greatest Boots Of All Time Ever, because I’m not always willing to tower over every other human ever to exist on this planet.
Y’know, like this:
(I swear I have lips, I just happened to be wearing gold lipstick at the time and it doesn’t photograph well.)
And then I kind of stopped gigging for a month. Not intentionally, mind; my planning was just poor, and with working full-time and generally going out a few nights a week it’s very easy to lose track of time. I could’ve done walk-up gigs, but I found myself bored to death with my standard five-minute set, and while I was trying to write new material it can be a slow process.
Writing has been interesting. At the suggestion of someone I admire greatly I recently started to review the LiveJournal I kept from the ages of fifteen to twenty-five for inspiration, and this is a project I’m still undertaking. I’ve so far gone back about four hundred pages of my old thoughts and stories and, while I haven’t found comedy gold quite yet, but I feel more connected to the past incarnations of myself I sometimes can forget existed. I am willing to be more forgiving to myself for weaknesses such as anxiety because they’ve always been there. I can see now that I’ve always had the same fears and insecurities, even though my approach to them has changed. And, really and truly, while I live in a perpetual state of imposter syndrome, I can acknowledge that I have a lot to be proud of.
I’m turning thirty this year, and I spend most of my time feeling like I have nothing to show for it, but I really, really do.
I need to learn to talk about myself more onstage. I’m tremendously proud of what I’ve written, but I’m feeling more and more like there’s a huge emotional detach.
I have to stop being afraid of emotions.
There’s a lot to figure out, and specifically with regards to standup comedy. I’ve been told by many people that it takes a couple hundred gigs to really feel like you know what you’re doing. I’ve done fifty-two. I think I’m going to be okay.
I got back into gigging last week, and I think some of the underdeveloped ideas I’ve been writing could turn into something good. I’m scared a lot of the time that my go-to five minute set is the only good material I’ll ever write. Brains are pests, aren’t they? On Wednesday I did a walk-up spot at a gig close to home, and I really should go there every week. It was a very good experience. It was vastly improved by my friend Abigoliah also turning up and doing a spot. I found it very heartening when she told me that, even though she’s done well over a thousand gigs, she’s never stopped counting. I know such excellent people.
In my Unintentional Month Off From Gigging, I did some stuff.
I saw one of my favourite musician people ever (ever ever ever) (Carl Barât) for the first time since I unexpectedly crossed paths with him back in October on one of the weirder nights of my life, and when I spoke to him,
Me: I don’t know if you remember me.
Him: I do, actually!
Then there were the Drag Queen Times!!!!!!
Being a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I excitedly went to see The Vaudevillians at Soho Theatre, and it was the most I’d laughed at anything in ages. It was brilliant. Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales are both geniuses. I met them afterwards, and both were amazingly sweet and lovely. Jinkx complimented my hair (which, as I’m sure you can imagine, was very flattering) and my Bowie tattoo, gave me a couple of hugs, and I was starstruck as shit.
Two days later I went to see the Drag Love Of My Entire Life™ Sharon Needles at Heaven, and not only was that overwhelming, but right before the show started I noticed the people around me were making a fuss. I looked to see what they were reacting to, and saw Jinkx Monsoon watching from up in the balcony. People waved at her, she waved back. I waved at her, she looked at me and, her face lighting up with recognition, she waved back enthusiastically. It was really, really nice.
After the show and standing in a very long queue at two-something or three in the morning, I met Sharon Needles. Bianca Del Rio and Jinkx were there as well. Jinkx hugged me hello. Sharon Needles was in the midst of complimenting my entire outfit when she noticed my Bowie tattoo and excitedly smacked it. She also stated when we were having photos taken that she wanted rainbow hair. It was a very, very good, if brief, interaction.
Then, a few weeks later, just before the end of its run, I went to see The Vaudevillians again. Still excellent. I spoke to Jinkx and Major Scales again, Jinkx appreciated my fashion sense, and I felt good and happy and full of self-esteem. I mean, I do dream of getting past the point of needing validation from other people, but… y’know. It is nice.
I love my favourite drag queens.
Speaking of rambling about drag queens (this is a terrible segue), I ramble a lot about drag queens to my flatmates (see?). I don’t think I’ve told you an awful lot about the people I live with now, which is ridiculous because they’re a huge part of my life.
So here goes…
In the room across the hall from mine live Harry and Jodie, who are from Australia.
In the other room are Ben and Andie, who are from New Zealand.
We’re all of the same basic age group, and we all get along wonderfully. All four were unbelievably, amazingly terrific enough to come see me at Old Rope on that terrifying first ascent onto the stage. All four have been really amazingly understanding on the two occasions when I’ve foolishly decided to let people hang out at our flat in the middle of a Monday night so long as they’re quiet, and have inevitably realised that it’s impossible to keep a group of people that quiet, something will go wrong (but it’s been so fun to try!). All four are fun to talk to, to hang out with, to drink most of a bottle of vodka and sing 90s pop songs at the top of our lungs in the middle of the night with. We’ve all pitched in to get a humongous new TV, because our old one broke, and we’ve made the decision to get rid of our cable box and switch to Freeview, and dedicate the spare money to faster internet. It’s an amazing household, and I’m very grateful.
Jodie makes unbelievably wonderful lamington cakes now and then.
Andie bakes all manner of wonderful things.
I made anzac biscuits for their housewarming party even though I have no right to do so as a Canadian, and people said very nice things.
Harry and I talked about video games the other day when I said I was thinking I might get a used Xbox 360. Ben and I have talked about comics extensively. I don’t know a ton about either of these things, but I have a strong base knowledge with thanks to my brother Chris.
It’s just so nice to feel like I belong.
Maybe that can be my sentence for today, in my planner. Maybe it’ll be something else. Who knows?