…and I woke up this morning, late-ish (around 9:30am) with no hangover.
The reason why that’s a miracle is because I spent the night before drinking with my housemates, one housing manager and a potential new housemate before finally passing out at midnight (I know, what a rebel).
I went into the kitchen and put the kettle on. This seems normal but I know that throughout the day I will put the kettle on roughly 10 times in an effort to remind my body that it still needs to function and do things. Of course, I never do make myself a cup of coffee.
I am very depressed at the moment, you see.
My friend crashed in the spare room and he arrives back from the gym as I’m getting dressed. I then proceed to clean the kitchen. As I clean I’m reminded of “Invisible Women” where data tells us that women do 75% of unpaid work, being that looking after children, caregiving and cleaning. It does not improve my mood as I scrub the sides down and load the dishwasher. I live with six men (save for one woman that I never see and certainly never cleans) so it feels a bit like everything’s against me the minute I step outside my room.
My friend hears my woes about my current situation and helps clean the kitchen before he leaves. I am unemployed and I describe to him that trying to find another job is like wading through a swamp. I feel like slimey creatures are clutching at my ankles and weighing me down and my chest is full of sand. He completely understands and yet of course, doesn’t want to fall down in that pit with me so he changes the subject. This is the norm for most people. I am predominantly surrounded by males in my living life so I’m accustomed to their inability to sit with pain that they can’t fix straight away.
He leaves and I start to cry on our sofa in the hall. No noise. Just silent tears. I am staring at two dirty glasses on the table and I’m sad I missed them when I cleaned the kitchen and I want to get up and put them in the dishwasher but I can’t move.
My body doesn’t want to move. I’m aware I need to send my CV to people who can help me grab a job until I find something more stable. I’m aware that many people have offered suggestions and help for my situation. I’m aware there are options. I’m aware that I’m aware of how I’m feeling and that it is a phase. I’m aware of my awareness and still I am aware that I’m seriously pissed off that I’m in IT anyway and because of that, my body does not want to move off the sofa and do things.
Whenever I am feeling shaken, down, depressed or upset I always repeat one of my favourite quotes, “Action is the antidote to despair” – Joan Baez. I repeat this as I put a load of washing on. Actually it finished hours ago and I’ve yet to hang it up. I repeat it as I hoover my room. I repeat it as I make breakfast and eat food I don’t want to eat because eating food reminds me that having no money coming in makes eating harder to do.
I am in THAT PHASE that not many people know they’re in when they’re in it but feel fucking terrible and can’t explain why. I have temporarily lost my will to function doing things I liked to do. I haven’t picked up my guitar in two weeks. I am literally having to drag songs out from under my belly to still write a song-a-day. I don’t even sing around the house. I am a mute bird. You know what they say, “If the bird ain’t happy, the bird don’t sing” – Billie Holliday.
I’ll be honest, doing the job I did for a year was not easy. My employer was cruel, calculating and an outright, capitalist misogynist. I literally stuck at it because working for a private club run by internalised misogynistic women felt worse when in reality, both sucked immensely. There’s nothing worse than entering a workplace where you know your rights and your worth and everyone around is stripping that from you because they basically hate themselves.
I only do one job at the moment and it’s sweeping an alleyway in Putney once a week.
I pick up trash and brush cigarette butts to the end of the alleyway. Then I slosh the edges of the alleyway in super strong bleach and sweep up human shit and urine (there are five homeless people sleeping in the alleyway when I’m not cleaning it). I don’t have to clean up the space that they use as a toilet and I was advised to leave their spot for them to clean but I looked at the spot where the guys had defecated and I thought of my mother. Over a year ago she messaged me saying she was sleeping in a park with her dog. I stood in the alleyway looking at this mess thinking of her and where she went to the toilet and I said to my boss (who knows about my home life) ” I really hope my mother isn’t doing this”.
Anyway, that job got me thinking about past jobs and past experiences.
When you’re hired to clean an alleyway, that’s exactly what you do. You go there, put on a mask, sweep and you’re done. There’s no back clapping (having to kiss someone’s ass). No hidden agenda. You’re just there to do a job. I also do other handy-person type jobs which I love. I fix washing machines. I help install fire alarms. I paint huge studios. I was saying to my friend this morning, “No wonder men do all these physical jobs. You never have to think about your feelings when you’re doing them”. He added that not only that but after a day of it you can look at your work and feel a real sense of achievement because you can see the results of your physical labour. It’s quite intoxicating.
When I think about music it feels like an endless emotional fuck pie of, “What if?”. That’s why I learned to love recording in studios. I would shut myself off with the producer and make magic. The shit part is when you finish and suddenly you feel you’ve got to make everyone like it for it to be a wonderful piece of art. I don’t even gig enough to push my record out and it’s because I just don’t like gigging in London that much. Underpaid, badly marketed, too much work and not a lot of outcome. Then you’re chastised for not doing it for the love of music.
Oh, I love what I do, I just know my worth too and my worth isn’t cheap. I’m not clamouring onto a conveyer belt with the rest of the wannabes in this city so I can get 30 minutes on stage and a free beer. I do music when I want to do it. Not when it’s expected. It’s also become apparent that the UK audience especially just…don’t like vocal women. In fact, I’d go as far as to say; The UK doesn’t like women.
We’re not alone though. Clearly the USA don’t like women either and ironically both countries have an extremely strange obsession with celebrities, the elitist lifestyle and narcissistic tendencies when operating social media whilst also teaching women that they don’t have the same rights as men. We’re taught daily to measure ourselves up to what feels like the impossible and it’s impossible because it actually isn’t real. Then we’re taught that like the Emperor’s New Clothes it is merely a veil to throw up so we don’t pursue things that actually matter yet we buy into it anyway because everyone else is and to be different means to isolate yourself. Knowing how much you’re worth to yourself throws a spanner in the works of the systemic construct in society that tells you that you need others to validate you. To consider your worth first is the ink mark on the table cloth that everyone works hard to ignore.
In a job, any job, you’re having to compromise every day. “Well, you’ve got to compromise to get what you want”. If you’re a creative reading this I KNOW you’ve had that line said to you a number of times which we all know means, “You have to put up with bullying, abuse, shit pay and all sorts of unexpected pain to get what you want”.
Is it really worth it?
I recorded both my records by working odd jobs and busking. I pushed my face into the ground to get the money. What I’ve learned is that I suffered greatly in the long term by doing it this way. The busking community is neither compassionate or productive. It is dog-eat-dog no matter how many exchanges the buskers may have on social media about each others boundless talent. Everyone is out there to mark their territory and take gold each day (literally). No time is made to make real connections or real friendships when you’re treated as competition. As a side note, I have to say that music isn’t competition for me. No one can do what I do and I can’t do what others do, thus making competition futile. If it’s competition to you, go and do a real contest. X Factor still exists for such people. I compromised and dealt with stalkers, buskers not talking to me and people assaulting me for the records and rent and it bit back at me hard. Am I grateful for the experience? Fuck yeah, I am. I’ve come out wiser, stronger and smarter.
Compromise is a term that’s been popularised for people who actually don’t have to compromise a damn thing. If you’re getting what you want and neglecting others, you’re doing it out of Threat. You are doing it to bring those around you to their knees because to you, the view looks better from up there and no one can over throw you. That’s your fear driving that. If you’re compromising and receiving nothing soothing or kind, you are killing yourself unnecessarily.
Compromise is actually an action born out of compassionate thought.
The ability to see situations from both parties and initiate a dialogue that allows the freedom and safe space needed to reach an actual compromise.
I know what some people will say, “Well, sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do in order to get what you want”. True, there is that. That’s when compromise is an action out of self-preservation. We take the job with the abusive boss because we need rent money, because we’ve having a baby, because your parent is sick and you need the extra cash. However, that “compromise” negates to look after one’s self thus taking away your drive and personal identity and forcing them to change in a way that isn’t always healthy and in other times, downright destructive. Suddenly it’s not self-preservation, it becomes a Threat in disguise.
Here’s the honest truth. Most people we meet do not have their shit sorted out. They have issues (we all do). We’re all shattered pieces frantically trying to keep up with what society tells us to do and because we don’t sort it out by a certain timeline (by some mystical fucking overlord who no ones sees but everyone seems to obey), we sort our shit out on other people. When we neglect our needs we neglect the very fabric that holds us together to perform the tasks we actually enjoy – like making a bloody cup of coffee.
Do I feel like a failure because I haven’t done my Songs For June for my mailing list? That I can’t afford the guitar I’ve been trying to buy since January? That I have no savings? That I can’t afford to record new songs? Absolutely. Of course I do. Yet a big part of me knows my body and mind will only serve me and the people around me fully when I’m feeling wholesome which I currently don’t feel. How do I compromise? Well, I write a blog and tell you the truth on how I’m feeling. On how a LOT of us feel every day and the best part about sharing this is that I’m not unique. This is not a lone thought. It becomes everybody else’s. It becomes alchemy.
I think for too long we’ve taken the word “compromise” and made it into a weapon used against the weakest (those with less money, power and status) so that the few who are rich, connected and selfish, stay benefitted. They will never share by the way. Aligning yourself with such people. Back-clapping. Kissing arse. It won’t get you anywhere near their pedestal because people like that don’t get there by sharing. Their system works on Threat. There’s no room for anyone else because to them, they are it.
Knowing your worth is the key to smashing those systemic systems that drive our ability to work smarter into the ground. By working smarter, I mean we work towards a system that benefits all and not the few and that begins with ourselves.
You and I are not responsible for the people out there working their shit out on us but we are wholly responsible for us being able to see through it and avoid those toxic episodes that only serve to weaken us and strengthen them.
So, tomorrow. I go and sweep the alley way. The weather is hot so I’m certain it will stink and I’m prepared. My compromise is out of compassion. For myself and those clients sleeping rough. I’ll find a job to tide me over until I find my feet yet I know I’ll tread carefully and I’ll ask myself who it’s benefitting the most if such an opportunity arises.
It it only benefits one person, I’m out.