Sometimes I get too bogged down in what upsets me. I can't see through my own indignation and hurt. I get mean and say things I regret and then I get scared. Finally, I realise all of that, which could last from anywhere between 5 minutes and 6 hours, doesn't matter as much as I thought it did. The fear of losing something precious can cloud our vision, but it can also make us see how important life and the people we love are.
It's a never-ending battle of wills for me. Between myself and myself. We're terribly stubborn. But if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, when you've forgotten what you're angry about but you still feel like nothing will ever be okay again, go for a walk, kiss your loved one on the forehead and say hello to some friendly cows. It's good for the soul.
Monday, 20 April 2015
I guess there's no better time to start living purposefully and fearlessly. Let's start now.
Everyone has a different way of doing things... doing life. For me, it's about making the most of ourselves, our opportunities, trying new things without fear and knowing that we're going to fuck it up because we're human and sometimes that's actually a good thing.
I've spent a lot of time being scared. For me it was a very specific fear of germs and illness and what terrible things might happen if I were to go anywhere that wasn't my very-clean-bed. For some people it's a fear of the unknown, of change, or of failure. Whatever it is, it holds us back. It stops us being the fabulous, feisty women (and men) that we are and shrinks us down to a mere speck of our potential.
I don't think we have the ability to do anything. We all need to work within the parameters of our own skills and you have to try really bloody hard to be successful in whatever you choose to do. But once you do know what you want to do and you've decided you're willing to put the effort in, be unashamedly ballsy.
It was about 10 years ago that I decided to become a journalist. I did become a journalist - it was fun and high-pressure and then it wasn't any more. Then, because I needed an out, I became a publicist and it turned out I loved it more and it loved me more. Sometimes it's hard and stressful, but I try hard and I have a plan and that makes me feel good. I'm not the finished product by any stretch, but I'm pretty good at rinsing every opportunity that comes my way. And I'm going to carry on doing that until I've got my terrace house in Notting Hill (or at least out of my overdraft).
Of course it's not always about success, or specifically professional success. Living purposefully is about appreciation and not being afraid to experience life in its purest form. I guess what I mean by that (because I hate that kind of ambiguity) is that I will try to live as my truest, sassiest, most vulnerable self and embrace the soaring highs and miserable lows that come with that.
That means making mistakes because I'm not perfect, learning and growing from and through them, and not being afraid to say "I'm good at this".
ps. I chose that picture because I got my legs out on Tuesday at London Book Fair because I wanted to feel sassy and in-control and it worked. I felt good.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 17:28
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
I think it’s called the sun, that bright orange ball in the sky that’s making everyone so warm and happy, but because January, February and March lasted for so many long grey years no one can be quite sure.
Not only am I happy because London looks beautiful and joyful, but I’ve recently discovered something of a new lease of life. It was hiding for a while. The last few months were difficult. I came off my anxiety medication, my dad got really ill, my brain freaked out, and I had a scary few moments of feeling like everything was plummeting back to the likes of 2010, when things were really shit.
Now though, I’m medicated again, my dad is out of hospital, and I just want to do some proper living. In all its wonderful, complicated glory.
I have mixed feelings about medication, which I might write about in more detail at a later date. But for now, those little cylindrical pills are my armbands, and I’m going to ignore the heartburn they give me and enjoy barbeques and picnics and wine in pretty pub gardens.
I felt more relaxed and content last weekend than I have in a long time. I went for drinks in St Katherine’s Docks, visited the wonderful underground Everyman Cinema in Baker Street, had a really weird but half price lunch out, and lazed around on Hampstead Heath all afternoon with gin and tonics and an antipasti platter from M&S. More of that, please.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 18:08
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Christmas is over, you’ve finally sobered up after New Year’s Eve and you find yourself back at work, complaining that your skirt is too tight and manically scribbling to-do lists. I miss December and its tinselled frivolity, and I’ve accidentally become a cliché, sincerely telling everyone I meet that I’m “really ready for Spring now”. Somehow though, we must continue living through the dank grey cloud of January, because turning the gas on and breathing deeply could be seen as a little melodramatic.
Here’s a list of things that might help:
-The house red.
-Socks, big woolly ones that you can’t wear with any of your shoes because they’re too good (thick and cosy) for the indecency of going outside.
-GIRLS season 3.
-The cinema (take a coffee and a huge slice of chocolate brownie for optimum viewing pleasure).
-Your Christmas book haul.
-Pubs with open fires and/or handsome bearded men.
-Tea. All day long. Aaaaallllll day long.
-A list of resolutions that you know deep down you won’t stick to but make you feel, at the time of writing, like a together and organised grownup who might at some point do something worthwhile.
-A haircut (although this one really could go either way).
-Pizza, most nights.
-See also: burgers.
-Under no circumstances, no matter how many pairs of gleaming new Nikes you scroll through on Instagram, go to the gym.
And if that doesn’t work, fuck off to Australia or something.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 16:46
Monday, 5 January 2015
It started with a homemade snow-and-brandy slush puppy in the Swiss Alps and an enthusiastic game of Articulate.
Then I returned home, went back to work, and shit hit the fan.
January/February/March: At the beginning of 2014 I was working for the Watford Observer and had fallen out with a colleague. She was a friend, albeit a bad one, and if we hadn’t have been working together we could have ended the friendship comparatively calmly and unexcitingly. Unfortunately though, that was not the case, and it became a far bigger deal than was worthwhile.
I can say beyond reasonable doubt that what ensued was one of the most outrageous displays of injustice I have ever, or hope to ever, experience. Favouritism, hearsay and the need for a scapegoat led to my being bullied out of the company. Which is unfortunate in some ways, mainly for them, let’s be honest, but turned out to be pretty advantageous to me. I waited until I’d got a new job to leave, of course – I wasn’t going to take off before I was good and ready – but once I’d interviewed for a role as a publicist at a publishing house in London and received my shiny new contract, I handed in my notice and took the kind of sigh of relief that causes chairs in China to fall over.
I should probably mention that the reason my aforementioned colleague and I fell out had something to do with my then-boyfriend. He broke up with me in early January, after the shit and the fan had met, and then decided to become BFFs with her. Because it’s not like she’d called him stupid or he’d called her a c*** or anything.
He has, over the last 10 months, apologised profusely for this though, so I will not dwell on the point. It no longer causes me any negative feelings and I’m sure they have the most prosperous of friendships. Yes, anyway…
After handing in my notice I endured one more month of torture, without wanting to sound too dramatic, slightly numbed by the sheer quantity of wine I drank. On my last day I was called into a meeting room at 9am by the chief reporter, told that they’d “like [me] to leave now please”, asked for my laptop and phone to be returned and then banished from the office. Well why change a habit of a lifetime?
April/May: Next up was the hefty commute to Pimlico, and getting to grips with a new industry and a huge list of books to promote. My new job (now not so new) was and is friendly, exciting and an utter blessing. I love publishing and I love publicity, I met some wonderful people who I will now be friends with forever, and in the words of Evangeline Deavall: “I want to send them a letter of thanks for being so awful to you, because now you’re here.” She’s a treasure.
I had some interesting, shall we say, dating experiences. Which included but were not limited to: travelling to Amsterdam to see a guy I’d met once, and going on two dates with a bar-tender I later realised had a girlfriend.
June/July: But on a humid Tuesday morning during an “Introduction to Publishing” training day, a boy with great hair and skinny jeans, walked into my life. We stared at each other all day and then I oh-so-smoothly handed him (and all his colleagues) my card. He’s made the last 6 months pretty great.
August: I moved to London – Oval to be exact. I made my room pretty and found my way into the deep dark depths of my overdraft.
September/October/November: I guess when life is going well there’s not so much to say. People don’t particularly want to hear that you had a lovely time at the cinema, although we did, or that you really enjoyed that time you spent with your family. Autumn 2014 was great and I did lots of lovely things. See my Instagram for more details.
December: Some things of note happened in December – I saw Ellie Goulding perform live for the 10th time, it was mother’s birthday and my dear friend Mitch’s birthday, we had our work Christmas party and then it was actual Christmas.
Christmas was marvellous. It was my first one living away from home so coming back to Chorleywood for some quality time in front of the fire and Christmas tree was more than ideal. I spent a week at home, seeing friends and family, eating so much cheese my eyes watered, and playing an array of board games to varying degrees of success. Then my 500th cold of the year arrived, but that was okay too because of the stack of books I’d gratefully received. You see, stupendous.
2014 ended with Timothy on Vauxhall Bridge, too ill to do much else but blissfully happy, watching the London skyline light up as hundreds of fireworks exploded from the Eye.
I just want to finish with a few thank yous, if I may. My friends and family have been amazing this year, but there are a few that I would like to pay special attention to.
Lottie and Beckie. My WO colleagues who got me through those first few months. Your indignation and anger on my behalf made more of a difference than you’ll ever know.
Eve, Mitch and Toby. For Thursday nights at the flat and just generally keeping me laughing (and drunk).
Millie. For psychoanalysing with me in Bodegas.
Evangeline and Rebecca. You guys make tea more fun, and you helped restore my faith in humankind.
And everyone else who I'm sorry I haven't mentioned (including my rather fabulous family), I'm making myself queasy now.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 15:28
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
1. The rules of Articulate
2. Who’s eaten the most communal chocolates
3. Who, out of you and your sibling(s), is going to wash up
4. Who, out of you and your sibling(s), has done the most washing up over the entire festive period
6. Whether to watch Love Actually or Die Hard
7. Whether or not “I’ve seen Love Actually too many times” is a viable excuse for not watching it
8. The benefits system
9. Recording approximately 500 hours of films and Christmas specials that no one will ever get around to watching
10. Whether dad should be allowed to have a nap
11. How much cheese to buy*
12. Who gets the last roast potato
13. Whether to go for a post meal walk or fully immerse oneself in the food-coma-situation
14. Who gets control of the remote
15. Family members asking for receipts so they can exchange the presents you so thoughtfully picked out for them
16. People who cheat in Monopoly
18. Next Christmas
*the correct answer is "all the cheese"
Posted by clairemaxwell at 12:55
Friday, 5 December 2014
I didn't blog at all in October or November, which is disappointing. It's the first time in four years I've gone an entire month, let alone two, without tapping some words out and clicking publish. I haven't enjoyed nor been impressed by this lack of writing, but one of my main concerns is what on earth I'm going to feature in my, frankly, enthralling yearly round-up. This year has been busy and full of change, and the unfortunate by-product of having a lot of things to write about is not having the time to write about those things.
Life, you cruel mistress.
I’ve taken a dismally small number of artfully composed shots of burgers, and my stories from the last few months are blurring slightly in a crowd of unreliable memories.
So I wanted to say hello, I’m around, at least somewhere, and here is a fairly concise run-down of some good and bad things that have happened in my life over the last few months. This may or may not be of interest to you (my granddad would certainly question why I feel the need to write about my life on the internet at all), but I guess this is what we do, people who write and blog, and if its consequence isn’t a reader’s enjoyment, then maybe it’s just for our own satisfaction, and that’s okay too.
- My hair is longer than it’s been since I was seven-years-old which is not only exciting for the novelty factor, but also because the split-ends are so damn satisfying to pick in particularly long meetings.
- My two best work-friends left me in October and, although they were replaced by some wonderful people, I still haven’t quite recovered.
- After half a year of some pretty terrible dating experiences (read my future (hopefully publishable) book for more details), I somehow managed to meet someone great. Actually one of the best people I’ve ever met – so that’s nice.
- I moved to London. I think I might have told you that though. I love it so much. I want to marry it.
- Tim (boy from third point) and I have rewatched Friends from the beginning and communicate almost entirely in references. Not always Friends, sometimes School of Rock and The Breakfast Club, too. Anyway, it's been time well spent.
- I have organised numerous book launches and events and feel sickeningly inspired by my job. I also made tea for Rowan Williams.
- I have gained a new appreciation for my family and my home. They are great, and when I was very poorly last month Father came to pick me up from South London, took me home, and Mother made me honey & lemon while I watched TV in front of the fire.
- One of the things I was most looking forward to about living in London is Christmas here, and boy does it not disappoint. I almost cried when I saw Harrods.
- I got a new shelf, a new toilet seat and a new radio alarm clock in one week and could barely handle the excitement of it all.
- Similar theme: when I cleared my cupboard out the other day I realised I owned stock cubes. I'm such a grownup.
I know I’ve missed out lots of lovely and important things, but as I said, I’ve all but forgotten them. I’ll try harder to write more from now on. I always say that, but this time I really, really will.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 15:52