Monday, January 18, 2016

Saying Goodbyes

Saying goodbye is always hard. From the small ones to the big ones. They are never easy. Even as a child, I struggled with goodbyes. When I was a little girl, I would throw a tantrum whenever it was time to leave my grandparents’ house. My mom would plead, my dad’s voice would start to rise, my grandma would try to convince me to be good (and my grandfather, bless him, would say I could always stay the night). But no matter what was said, the tears would fall and the stubbornness would kick in. I never wanted to say goodbye.

As an adult, I have the same problem. I am amazingly talented at being able to ignore any upcoming goodbye. Instead, I try to focus on the present, the moment of ‘now,’ instead of the growing dread in my stomach and the ache in my heart. Maybe it’s the stubborn refusal to admit a parting is coming that always makes them so hard.

I had to say goodbye again very recently. Luckily, it’s not a permanent one, but it still hurt and the tears still fell. Then we all had to say goodbye. First, David Bowie. While he may not have played a huge role in my life, whenever I hear of someone dying of cancer, it opens that old wound on my heart. Then it was Alan Rickman, deadpan delivery extraordinaire with the lovely voice. Another life lost to cancer and one that had a little more impact on my life.

And it got me thinking about goodbyes and why they are so hard. Is it because they signal an end to things? Whether temporary or permanent, they can represent a closing door.

Unless you think of them differently. No matter how difficulty a goodbye, it can’t change what has come before. As long as you don’t let it. It is so easy to focus on the ending that we forget to remember the journey. Sometimes we don’t even let ourselves enjoy the moment while it lasts, because we are too focused on how it will end.

I think I need to take away one old thing I used to know, and one thing I’m realizing now.

1) Don’t focus on the goodbye. Enjoy the journey. Live each moment to the fullest and don’t be afraid of how it will end. Instead, celebrate each second that you have. Enjoy each moment playing at grandma and grandpa’s like it will never end.

But then:

2) Don’t be afraid of the goodbyes when they happen. Don’t try to ignore the hurt they can cause, but don’t let them sour what came before. Maybe a goodbye isn’t so much a closing door, but instead just a mile post on the journey you’ve been on so far. A way to remember the amazing moments that came before. A time to reflect on what has already happened.
That’s my new goal. To treasure the moments I have, but to try and accept the goodbyes that I have to make. While trying to hold on to the faith that there will be something just as great on the horizon, something to experience and enjoy as the person all those past goodbyes have helped me become. So I will do my best. After all, it may be a little after the fact, but it’s never too late for a new year’s resolution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It’s just Research – Honestly!

Happy New Year everyone. 
All too late, I realise I should probably have made a resolution (apart from my normal “detox for the rest of January as soon as the food’s all gone”). It's hard when the date on the Brandy cream is mid Jan and no-one else likes Christmas cake or pudding. Pretty sure I'm man enough for the task, though.

Trouble is, until the last decoration is down, I can’t get out of all the bad habits I picked up over Christmas. Like having a tiny glass of Bailey’s Irish Cream with my last cup of coffee (which is just before I go to bed) – for some reason, I’m immune to caffeine. Probably because I only have half a teaspoon – it’s little more than hot milk. But as well as the chocolate or cookie (just to stave of night-time rumbly-tummy), I’m now having rich fruit cake with a slice of cheese and brandy cream with it. Like ten minutes before I hit the sack. Does it get any worse, figure-wise? Yep, that half-stone (7lbs) I packed on since September is rapidly growing. If the January detox doesn’t shift it, we then have Lent – 40 days of giving up stuff (booze, snacks and not exercising). That should sort it. 

But this pales into insignificance compared to the very worst habit of all. Binge-watching. I never even knew it was a thing til Bri got the new TV. One of those mega-huge curved things the rest of the world’s been watching for half a decade. And then he really stuffed me good. He put Netflix on it. Ai Caramba.

So on Sunday, my son and I watched two Castle episodes before lunch. Then Bri gave him a lift down to Horsham and I was looking forward to 7 hours solitary writing. The best laid plans. What did I do? A couple of thousand words for the 3rd book in the Hostage series? Nope. My daughter and I watched 6 episodes of Orange is the New Black. Back-to-back with a couple of pee-breaks and incessant replenishing of the wine glasses and snack bowls as the credits ran. Aarrgghh.

I’m trying to analyse how I’ve gone from a girl who only watched one soap and one series a week to someone who can do eight 1-hour shows in a day. Let’s back-pedal to when my kids were young. My guilty sin is Coronation Street – a British TV soap where many excellent screen/TV writers cut their teeth. I watch it because unlike most soaps, it really doesn’t take itself seriously. The humour, pathos and fantastic (in the true meaning) characters/situations make it a fabulous half-hour.

I would also watch any kind of Star Trek and Dr Who, and this progressed to Space 1999, Babyon 5 and more recently Firefly (what’s not to like about Joss Whedon’s writing?). But back then, you had to wait around until it came up in its once-weekly slot and each season ran for a few months then there was a big gap. It was a pleasure made more intense by anticipation and moderation.

Then came dozens of TV channels and huge rafts of US imports. We built up our couch potato muscles slowly with a steady diet of sit-coms and intense dramas. And then there were the re-runs and the ability to record series that showed in the wee small hours so if you only caught a show on season 3, you could go back and catch up. Still I managed to keep it down to less than 10 hours a week (not counting Saturday movie night).

All those addictive reality shows? I never watched more than 10 minutes of Big Brother. I managed to keep up with most of a series of the jungle one; never managed a whole episode of X-factor, but religiously watched every minute of Strictly Come Dancing (the UK’s Dancing With The Stars).

Then came the buying of the DVD sets. So whenever my son comes home, we will watch a couple of episodes of something – he has similar Sci-fi oriented tastes and we both like a good murder mystery.

None of this prepared me for the total lack of self-control which happens on Netflix. At least a DVD only holds four episodes and there is always a bit of fun while you try and remember exactly where you got up to last time. Netflix denies you any pretence of autonomy as it and removes the need for even a remote control. ‘It’s alright love, you just sit there and I’ll remember where you were and start the next one with just enough time to grab another beer/empty out the last one.’ Is this what plugging into the Matrix feels like?

At 2am last night, rolling over to the 4th Orange/Black in a row, we decided that it was completely legitimate research. We were doing this to get a handle on what makes a series so compelling. As soon as we figure it out, we’ll let you know.
Maybe I have got an addictive personality after all.