Saturday, 29 August 2015
I'm writing from the broken bed I've endured and enjoyed this past year, taking particular pleasure in the sound of the church bells outside while I sip my tea and contemplate packing.
The crazy man who patrols the street with his dog, bellowing at ungodly hours, is out in full force this morning. I think he knows I'll miss him, regardless of how very unsettling I find him.
I say goodbye to South London this weekend as I get ready to move to a delightfully small flat in Maida Vale with my favourite gentleman, Tim, and I am terribly excited.
I like change, I crave it I think. But I also like to sit and reflect when change is imminent.
In this case, my reflections are simple and brief: I love London; I don't like living with people/strangers, although the bunch I've lived with this year have been extremely easy compared to other housemate examples I've heard rumours of; I'm terrible at managing my finances and must improve if I want to live anywhere warmer and dryer than under an old footbridge; I'm far more introverted than I realised; I need A LOT of bookshelf space.
Aside from the fact that I don't have to live with strangers anymore and I can walk around in my underwear whenever I please, I'm going to be living a 20 MINUTE WALK from Notting Hill. My favourite square mile of THE ENTIRE WORLD. The only thing better than that would be living a 10 minute walk away... or, you know, on Portobello Road.
I also get a dishwasher, huge sash windows and an abundance of quiet coffee shops and pubs within, pretty much, arms reach.
This is what I lusted after when I watched Hugh Grant in Notting Hill and decided I simply had to live and work in London. So here begins the next chapter and the sixth home in my life. May it be filled with good food, cheap wine and plenty of larks.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 10:29
Monday, 17 August 2015
For me, the comfort and familiarity of home, my bed, my friends and family, has always overridden the desire to see more. I’ve never really had the urge to travel the world, as so many of my peers do from the moment they finish university to, well… indefinitely, and I’ve always preferred structure and a plan. However much I like to idea of “finding myself” in Bali. Having said all that, and while I still won’t be booking a round-the-world trip on a tandem bicycle any time soon, I can genuinely appreciate that there’s something really special about drinking a cup of coffee overlooking Lake Geneva.
Last month Tim and I went to Switzerland. After a flight in which I was too drugged up on Valium to remember much of, we arrived in Geneva, picked up our hire car from a man outside (i.e. a very dubious company rep. who, on our departure, told us to "just leave the keys on the seat and the car outside the airport”) and drove to Bern. It was about 10.30pm and we hadn’t eaten anything since our overpriced smoked salmon bagels at Gatwick Airport 8 hours previously. We were ravenous and I was still a bit dazed from ALL THE DRUGS. After dropping our bags at our hotel we found a café that was still serving food, ordered two glasses of wine, a huge Caesar salad and plate of chips to share and settled in for an hour or so to watch the city go by.
I fell in love with Bern very quickly. The next day we woke up early, found breakfast at another café with good people-watching opportunities, and then did some sightseeing. We visited Einstein’s house, the bears of Bern (that weren’t actually there), and strolled along the River Aare, stopping now and again for a glass of wine or to dip our feet in the freezing water.
Bidding farewell to Bern, one of the most beautiful, quietly content cities I’ve ever visited, we drove to my parents’ chalet, up in the mountains near Sion, and commenced our week of reading, eating and drinking.
I read three books, we watched the entire season 4 of Game of Thrones, and we ate steak, cheese, salads, crusty bread, fresh pasta and so many tomatoes. I feel like I actually stopped. I felt lighter, as if anxiety I didn’t even know was there had fizzled away. I felt excited, too. The world is gigantic, scary and ripe with potential: I wanted to soak it all up and take some of it home with me.
We finished our Swiss trip with a visit to Montreux and Lake Geneva. While meandering along the lakeside pathways towards Chateau de Chillon, stopping for coffee and pastries at a little patisserie, and manically waving at passing boats (who manically waved right back), we started plotting our next adventures. We want to take a road trip across America, cycle around Lake Geneva, drive down the Italian Riviera and all the while drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of cheese. We drove to the airport, I popped some more Valium and we arrived back in London; sad our trip was over but rejuvenated and full of anticipation. Besides, London’s pretty cool too.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 12:22
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
I just read this, by Michelle Thomas – the girl who went on a Tinder date, had a “Pleasant Evening” and then was told in exquisite detail why she was too fat to be sexually attractive.
Boy, it hit me right between the eyes; a big ball of hot anger and steely indignation. I really, really, really want to high five her for such a ferocious but dignified response. What I love most about Michelle’s story is that her self-loving attitude wasn’t what came first. First, came some tears and some self-doubt and then came the fire, because even the most ardent feminists/campaigners/women-with-a-little-self-esteem get sad and have to put a bit of effort into loving themselves.
I, personally, am in the midst of a turbulent battle between my sassy self-loving side and my “only baggy jumpers please” self-loathing side. I scroll through Instagram noting all the flat stomachs, tea-detoxes and calorie counting watches (I don’t even know), and think WHY GOD WHY can’t I prefer running to pizza?
The answer to that, children, is that pizza is awesome and running sucks.
And also, it’s because I’m having a LOVELY life; eating that bowl of chips with my glass (bottle) of white wine and spending my evenings binge-watching Game of Thrones instead of going to the gym. I get it… okay, I should maybe do more exercise and only eat burgers on special occasions. But only because that’s what’s best for ME. Me, me, me. It’s up to me. I will reap the benefits or hide my misdemeanours - because they’re mine.
I think this is one situation when it really is okay to be horribly narcissistic, and I love it when I read blogs and articles written by other women who are struggling and sassy and learning ALL FOR THEMSELVES. I’m trying to find a balance between having a lovely time and building the best version of myself that I can be. I’m trying to find peace with looking different to other women. I’m trying to love myself whatever my body looks like. I'm just really flawed and trying.
And there is no one that is going to tell me, or any other one of you GODDESSES, that we are not good enough or not “sexually attractive” enough, because firstly, it says more about them than it does about us, and secondly, they don’t matter... one little bit.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 10:35
Thursday, 2 July 2015
I was going to write a post about the fact that I’m currently the fattest I’ve ever been. But then I started writing, bored myself senseless and realised it’s not worth the time and effort I’ve been spending agonising over it.
So I’m not going to devote this piece of writing to whether or not it will make me happier, healthier and more desirable in work, life and love if I just lose those 15lbs – I’m going to talk about something far more important. Ambition.
I went to the Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference this week and it made me feel and think a whole load of things. I’m so pleased I’m in publishing, and I’m even more pleased I’m in publicity in publishing. It is dynamic, exciting, ever-evolving and I would encourage anyone considering it as a possible career venture to make the jump. Having said that, its excitement, evolving nature and dynamism can sometimes make one feel a little overwhelmed and underachieving.
Basically, everyone is doing so many incredible things it can be difficult to keep up.
I would regard myself as a fairly ambitious person. Actually, very ambitious – as well a heady mixture of a control-freak-cum-perfectionist – but with ambition comes success and/or failure. I learned a lot about that from some of the conference speakers this week.
It can be difficult when everyone around you seems to be succeeding, and you’re left behind wallowing in a sea of small triumphs and seemingly huge failures. But what I’m learning is that while our own failures seem infinite, everyone else’s are invisible, shrouded in a cloak of our own self-doubt. And not only that, but failure is absolutely necessary. How else will we learn, grow and succeed? If you don’t try, you don’t fail. And not trying is really not an option.
I’m in a strange head-space at the moment – I feel dissatisfied, frustrated and inspired all at the same time. There’s a lot I want to change in many areas of my life and work but I’m feeling okay about that. This is when things get exciting. There's a lot I want to do in the next 5 years, a lot of ambitions pulsing through my veins, most of which I will not write down here for fear that they will not come true (I’m rubbish at taking my own advice), and I’m quietly confident that I’m going to go and do some pretty cool things.
(And whether or not I lose 15lbs is going to make absolutely no difference to whether or not I’m a good publicist).
Just have faith in yourself, or no one else will.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 16:35
Sunday, 21 June 2015
The very best of the city's restaurants gathered in Regents Park for Taste of London this weekend, and last night we sampled as many of them as possible.
I love free samples, and I especially love it when those free samples are of Lindt chocolate, ravioli, wine and mojitos. We spent our evening wandering around the stalls in the drizzling rain, getting drunk on both free and extortionately-priced drinks and desperately trying to decide which delicious smell to follow. We tasted burgers, bruschetta, chicken liver pate, polenta, mushroom ragu and hummus bowls, and then we bought a big bag of pastries for our Sunday morning breakfast.
It was great. All my favourite things. Regents Park has never been so appealing. And it's always been above-average.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 16:15
Thursday, 18 June 2015
It’s funny how the very next post I want to write after confessing how optimistic and lucky I feel is one about how scared I am.
Sometimes I worry. Actually, all the time I worry. But sometimes that worry is so specific and acute that all I want to do is run.
I’m not talking about my usual anxieties about contamination and cleanliness, I’m talking about a more deeply rooted fear of being alone and an innate inability to accept love. Occasionally, and I do mean occasionally, I get really scared of losing everything. My parents are going to die, my friends are going to get bored of me, my boyfriend is going to run off with someone else – because why wouldn’t they? Why would I get to be happy? Why would they want to stick around?
So my urge is to pre-empt the inevitable. I want to run and hide.
And that’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m writing about it because that’s how I cope, but I do apologise for being so narcissistic.
I’m extreme. Things are either wonderful and the sun shines every day or life is terrifying. And that’s okay, it makes life pretty colourful. Somehow though, I need to find a way to trust. To trust what people say, to trust that things aren’t going to crumble and to trust that I am okay.
I read a quote today that I liked. I don’t know who said it but it’s pretty cool. It made me feel a bit better.
“Never apologize for how you feel. No one can control how they feel. The sun doesn’t apologize for being the sun. The rain doesn’t say sorry for falling. Feelings just are.”
Posted by clairemaxwell at 15:34
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
I’m still not quite at the age my head and my heart think I am, but year on year I’m getting there. As the rules of time dictate.
I turned 23 this month and feel more optimistic than I have ever done before. That’s not because things are perfect – I think ‘perfect’ might actually be a lie – and it’s not because I can cope with anything – I need a lot of wine to cope with most things – but I think it’s because I am lucky, and I know I’m very lucky. I am thankful for that every single bloody day in this beautiful but painful world.
When I was growing up - a slightly chubby teenager with eyebrows I didn’t yet know how to tame - I couldn’t wait to be an adult. Everyone told me not to wish my childhood away, that I “didn’t know how good [I’d] got it” and that life was never going to be as easy as it was right at that moment. That was a scary thought. Life didn’t feel easy. It felt like a monotonous and draining battle between desperately trying to be like everyone else and wanting to be intrinsically unique and find my own way. Bring on responsibility, financial worries and cooking my own dinner, I thought, at least then I can just be me. And they were wrong, at least in my case, being an adult is so much better.
As I said, I’m still not as old as I feel; I suspect I’ll peak at 30, when all my friends have got babies so it’ll be a viable and attractive option for us to stay in with a bottle of wine and a blazing fire going.
But even so, I’m 23, I’m in a career that inspires me, I’ve honed my friendships into a group of only the very best people, I’ve suddenly/finally realised how completely great my family are, and I’m in a relationship that is so easy and fun I don’t know where on earth the last year has gone.
I’m grateful, you see.
And I think it’s extra easy to be grateful when you consider the bad bits, too, which are ever present and ever nagging and hopefully only sometimes overwhelming. My OCD and anxiety makes doing normal things difficult, my dad still has a poorly heart and is on medication that makes his face puffy, and work can be very frustrating and demotivating at times. We’ve all got the bad bits. Let’s not dwell.
My birthday weekend was a joyous occasion. All my favourite people gathered at my parents’ house on the Friday evening for a BBQ, beers and table tennis, we had a family birthday day on the Saturday with a big breakfast, dinner out and a fancy cinema trip, and then on my ACTUAL birthday Tim took me out for a gorgeous lunch on a rooftop in East London (wild black bream for the lady) and then we went to see Billy Elliot in the West End. We started drinking at 9am and didn’t stop all day. It was spectacular.
I’m excited to be 23. I have no idea what this year holds. I suspect there will be a lot of reading and eating and drinking, but the rest is up for grabs.
Posted by clairemaxwell at 17:29